The Norwegian Library
When I visited my divorced father as a kid, I often went to the library. I read all the Hardy Boys books and Tintin before advancing on to other endeavors. The life within these cartoon book covers was much more vibrant than my own. Later on, as my own life took shape, I used the library less and less, and it became no more than an institution I took for granted. One of my best friends, however, an immigrant raised without Norwegian books in his own home, credits his life’s direction and education on the endless stream of information that the library in his small town provided. What is the state of the Norwegian library today?
Over the last 30 years, the number of public libraries in Norway has decreased by half. In tight municipal budgets, libraries are often abandoned in favor of urgent needs such as nursing homes and nurseries. As Internet and digital technology becomes more widespread in daily life, the libraries struggle to prove their relevance. As a provider of free knowledge and culture for all, the library is a cornerstone of an enlightened public. With this project I want to look deeper at Norway’s changing relationship to these humble places. Driving thousands of miles around the country to visit hundreds of libraries, I have aimed to document the current state of this democratic institution that is in the midst of disappearing.