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Norway/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.2 Heritage issues and policies

There have been some major reforms in the field of cultural heritage over the last few years, as several merger processes and coordination initiatives have taken place. In 2003, the Norwegian Archive, Library and Museum Authority was established following a merger of the Norwegian Directorate for Public Libraries, the Norwegian Museum Authority and the National Office for Research Documentation, Academic and Special Libraries. Public authorities maintain that archives, libraries and museums (ALM) have played an important role in democracy and in promoting social inclusion since they select, preserve and facilitate the use of various sources of knowledge and information. The merger has partly been legitimised by the fact that the majority of such sources extends across all of the ALM institutions and includes art, sound, photography, film, archival material and literature. Furthermore, it is emphasized that the common interests of the three constituent sectors have been strengthened by the use of information and communication technology (ICT), and that ICT provides simplified access to various types of sources, including across traditional sector boundaries.

Nevertheless, the Ministry of Culture decided to phase out The Norwegian Archive, Library and Museum Authority in 2010 and split up the tasks. Since 1 January 2011, the National Archival Services of Norway has been responsible for the archival tasks, the National Library of Norway has been responsible for the library tasks, and the Arts Council Norway has been responsible for the museum tasks.

A museum reform (2001-2008) that aims to reduce the number of museum units at the regional level and to strengthen the existing units professionally and administratively has also led to a public debate. The process, which is often termed "consolidation", has focused on mergers between museums in the same regions and on the establishment of national networks. While this process has been substantiated by the importance of professionally and administratively strong museum units, critics have warned that this could result in isomorphism and the loss of local autonomy in the museum sector. Another question of current interest concerning the museum sector is whether a system of free admission to museums should replace the current ticket system.

Regarding archive issues, the latest white paper on culture (2003) stressed that the development strategy in the archive sector should focus on retention and providing access to a broader range of archives. It underscored that this was necessary in order to facilitate a complete documentation of social development, that this required a better balance between governmental, municipal and private archives and that the public and private sectors must be viewed in relation to each other to a greater extent.

Following the latest white paper on culture, one of the main goals for the development of the library sector was to facilitate a "seamless" library service, which in practice means that optimum user access through nationally coordinated information resources must be an important principle for centralised development activities across institutional and other administrative borders.

For more information, see
European Heritage Network: Country profile Norway

Chapter published: 03-07-2015

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