LibWorld – Norway

The third guest author in our LibWorld series is Thomas Brevik, head librarian at the Royal Norwegian Naval Academy Library in Bergen, Norway. He is actively blogging in Norwegian at Blogg og bibliotek, and in English at Librarian 1.5.

Norwegian library blogs

1. History
Norwegian librarians started blogging in 2001. At first it was individual librarians who started blogging for personal reasons, but soon the professional blogs appeared. The first generally read professional blog was “Blogg og bibliotek” (Blog and library). This blog was co-written by three librarians from around the country. Until 2004 the number of blogs increased slowly, but in 2004 blogging became a more accepted form of professional communication, and although personal blogs still dominated the first official library blogs appeared. The best example of this was the Fauske public library blog, where the stated aim of the blog was to be the place you could find all blogs from or about Fauske. But it was not until 2006 that blogging really started in Norwegian libraries. That year 36 new blogs where started and several of them where institutional blogs. Most Norwegian library related blogs are indivudual blogs written by librarians.

The next largest group are project blogs or special subject blogs, i.e. library science students blog, school librarians blog etc. So far only a few blogs are actually library blogs aimed at the general public. Literary oriented blogs are also a large group with childrens literature dominating this category. In one area blogs have become successful is as a replacement of the traditional regional library newssheet that where publised as an internal information channel for public libraries within a regional authority (fylke). New blogs appear constantly, but still individual and personal blogs dominate the scene, and there are still no blogs from the largest public or academic libraries. A timeline and list of Norwegian library related blogs can be found at:

2.Introduction of some exemplary blogs.
The best and most well known Norwegian library blog in 2007 is no doubt Plinius, written by Tord Høivik, a lecturer at the Oslo College library science department. His blog is analitical and political with a large readership and it is probably the most commented of all Norwegian library blogs. Tord also blogs infrequently in English at Pliny the librarian.

Blogg og Bibliotek – blog and library – is where I blog. Exerpts of this blog are published in the Norwegian Library Journal (Bok og bibliotek). Blogg og bibliotek has been a collaborative blog with a shifting set of authors and have commented on both library policy, library practice and library related news.

Of the official library blogs I will again mention Fauske bibliotek which has probably the oldest still running library blog in Norway. Other library blogs that are interesting are the Buskerud regional library authority blog – Blogg fra bredden where regional library news and general library related items are blogged.

One thing that has limited Norwegian library blogging to a certain degree is that the tools available for free blogging has been in english, Blogger, WordPress, or demanded a certain degree of technical knowledge that few librarians posess. There is a great reluctance to start official blogging in open commercial blog services and few libraries so far have dedicated resources to set up and run blog software on their own server, if they have one.

3. A valuation of the degree of utilisation
Judging by the number of comments, few Norwegian library blogs have a large readership. The sheer number of blogs make library blogs an item for people with special interests, which in practice means other librarians. As an exercise in writing and publishing and as a practial introduction to web 2.0, blogging is an excellent tool and I think this is at the moment the greatest value of blogging in libraries in Norway. At some point there will probably be a need to establish a professional practice and set of requirement as to what a library blog should be, but so far it is not a part of the professional toolbox for most librarians.

4. The future of library and library blogs in Norway?
I think the greatest challenge is the need for education and professional updating of a majority of librarians as to what blogs are and how they relate to libraries as a tool for communication and as a source of information. Another thing is that I would love to see a library related blogging tool, preferably in Norwegian, that gave libraries and librarians an easier start to blogging and which could also be the place for official library blogs. Hopefully the next growth in blogging in Norwegian libraries will be from the larger libraries where the professional communities must have a lot to communicate both to the public and to the profession. The blog I would really, really, like to see in the future is a personal blog from the director of the National Library. (sigh)

5. … and the other things
One thing that is quite exiting at the moment here in Norway is the establishment of the Library Lab (Biblioteklaboratioret) where we hope to create a network of librarians with high technical skills to create Library 2.0 application for Norwegian library needs. The Library Lab can also become a clearinghouse for useful web 2.0 tools for librarians and maybe a place to learn how to use and create services for library users. Hopefully the Library Lab will also be initiating a blogging tool for librarians based on WordPress. The Library Lab will be operational during 2007.