The National Library of Norway said Monday it would digitise literature from Nigeria following a seemingly unprecedented agreement which organisers hope will lead to an “African digital library”.
In the northern Norwegian town of Mo i Rana, at the rim of the Arctic Circle, the National Library of Norway plans to digitise part of its Nigerian counterpart’s collection. The library’s public division is located in the capital Oslo. “Our goal is for this project to serve as a model for other countries, and that we can help create a fully-fledged African digital library,” the Norwegian library’s director Aslak Sira Myhre said in a statement. The agreement, which is to be signed on June 10 in Abuja, will initially cover works written in the Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba languages, the library said. The costs will be shared, with the library in Nigeria responsible for collecting the works and the Norwegian one for carrying out the digitisation, with the transport covered by the Norwegian embassy in Nigeria.
“The project has not been launched because the National Library wants to provide foreign development aid but because it enables us to enlarge our foreign language library, so this becomes a win-win project for us and Nigeria,” a spokeswoman for the Norwegian library, Nina Braein, told AFP. The National Library of Norway made headlines in 2014 when it announced it was putting virtually all Norwegian literature published before 2001 online and available free of charge, thanks to a pioneering agreement with rightsholders on the thorny issue of royalties. The digitisation of Norwegian works is expected to be completed this year.