This kind of news makes me want to go and live in Norway. This Scandinavian country is known for many awesome things – from fjords to salmon to the midnight sun – and now, there is another thing to add to the list: by the mid-2020s, all the books in the National Library of Norway will be digitized. Every single book in their repository.
You’re probably thinking, “So what? These days, you can find practically any book in digital form.” Sure, that is correct. You can even find more books you can read – for free – over at Project Gutenberg. And, of course, there is always The Pirate Bay – it’s not called the world’s most resilient BitTorrent site for nothing!
The amazing thing about the Norwegian government’s initiative to digitize books is that the goal is to make ALL books available to Norwegian readers. Yes, even those which are still under copyright. The only caveat is this: your IP address must show you are in Norway. (I can hear you thinking…)
There’s another question that may be in your mind right now. This initiative only covers books in the National Library of Norway, yes?
Yes, but here’s the thing: it is a law in Norway that “ALL published content, in all media [must] be deposited with the National Library of Norway”.
How cool is that?
While the initiative is not going to be complete for a little more than half a decade yet, the mere idea of a government going this far to make information available to its citizens is nothing short of astounding.
If you think about it, other first world nations are way, way behind in terms of making sure that written pieces of work are available to its citizens for free. Indeed, what we hear about are the efforts of private entities such as Google (see Google Books), which, while praiseworthy, is not nearly enough.
Hey, United States government (and everyone else for that matter), how about taking a look at what the Norwegian government is doing and following their example?
[Image via dvice]