University of Bergen Library

Facts about the Library

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General information

The University Library is a public research library at the University of Bergen which is organized directly under the university board and the university director. The main task of the library is to provide information and documentation services for research, teaching and dissemination at the University of Bergen. It also serves other institutions and users, including collaboration with local, national, and international partners. The library is open to the general public.


The holdings of the University Library have been developed to serve research and teaching at the university. The library houses special collections such as photos, manuscripts, newspapers and maps. It participates in BIBSYS, which runs a shared database for universities and colleges in Norway. A variety of databases and digital journals, to which the library subscribes, are also searchable online via the university network.


The University Library's holdings consist of about 1.8 million volumes of books and periodicals, 284,000 photos, 3,600 manuscripts, 41,000 maps and atlases, 400,000 electronic documents, and approx. 6,200 music recordings. The University Library has 26,500 current journal subscriptions, of which 23,000 are digital. The University Library has in 2014 a principal budget of approx. 140 million NOK, including a media budget of 45 million NOK.


The University Library consists of eight specialized libraries, each located adjacent to the faculty it serves, and the Department of General Functions, which is located in Haakon Sheteligs plass 7.


The University Library is managed by the library director who also represents the library externally. The library director ensures that the decisions of the university director and university board are implemented. The library director is responsible for the allocation of resources in accordance with the resolutions adopted by the board.


The University Library was established in 1948. The Bergen Museum Library's collection, dating from 1825, formed the basis for the University Library's holdings. Initially, the museum library's collection was housed in a building, adjacent to the Bergen Cathedral School. This building was converted into a kindergarten (Bergen Barneasyl) in the mid-1800's. From 1831 to 1867 the museum was located close to a small lake (Lille Lungegårdsvann) by the city center. In 1867 the museum moved into the Bergen Museum's new facilities on Nygårdshøyden. From 1851 the museum library's book collection was made ​​available to the general public. Before then only members of the museum administration and members of the Museum Association were permitted to borrow books from the library's collection. The same year the library was granted a permanent salaried librarian position.


After the Bergen Public Library was established in 1874, the museum library's focus turned toward collecting works in natural science and archeology.


In 1898 the library moved into new and larger premises in the museum's new wing. However, in the early 1900s and especially by the 1920s, lack of space became noticeable, despite several minor extensions. Meanwhile, in the early 1900s,a mowement was initiated toward transforming the Bergen Museum into a university. In 1923 the library took over a large collection of duplicates from the University of Oslo Library. The museum library's collections increased notably during period, from 63,000 volumes in 1915 to 200,000 volumes in 1935.


After the war the growing lack of space was characterized as "catastrophic". Efforts were undertaken to erect a separate building on Nygårdshøyden to house a future university. These coincided with plans to expand holdings and create "a full-fledged university library". In April 1946 the Parliament voted to establish the University of Bergen. However, it took another 15 years before the new library building was completed in 1961. A generous donation from J.L. Mowinckels shipping company paid for construction. The new building had an area of approximately 6,000 m2.


From the late 1960s the University of Bergen underwent considerable expansion. The number of students increased and several new faculties were established. In order to better meet the needs of these faculties, plans were made to establish separate departments at each faculty. As the first step in this process, the University Library started a library service at Haukeland University Hospital in 1956. In 1977 a library for the natural sciences was established, located in the new building for the Faculty of Natural Sciences. However, the development of full-fledged libraries housed at each faculty was not started until 1986, by resolution of the University Board. During 1986-1990 all the faculties received specialized libraries in their own premises closer to users. Previous University Library collections were integrated into these new libraries.


The University Library began using data processing in the mid-1970s. From 1981 the library adopted the national library system BIBSYS. Initially only the procurement module was implemented. When the University Library switched to using BIBSYS for cataloging 1st April 1983, since then, and especially from the 1990s, digital services at the library have developed substantially. Today all of the most important routines are automated. Users have access to a wide range of literature and information databases as well as journals in digital full text format. These can be accessed both from the workplace, public PCs at library's departments and from the students' and employees' private PCs. In early 2000s the library conducted a large conversion project aimed at transferring the library's entire old card catalog into the BIBSYS base. The catalog included approx. 1,1 million cards.


The University Library is engaged in several projects, both internal university projects and international collaborative projects.

You can read about our projects here:


Projects in collaboration with other faculties at the University of Bergen


Ludvig Holbergs skrifter


University Library projects

Skeivt arkiv


International projects


Development of New Information Services for Moldovan Higher Economic Education