Oslo’s new Deichman Library is open

More than dusty books

Photo: Paul Kleiven / NTB scanpix


The library of the future was just opened by Crown Prince Håkon on June 18. The new main branch of the Deichman Library, Oslo’s public library system, has been under development since 2013, with great anticipation. Designed by Lund Hagem Architects and Atelier Oslo, the six-floor, 145,000-square-foot building is more than just a library. It also houses media centers, gaming areas, a movie theater, and a restaurant. In their design, the architects emphasized its function as a public space, opening it to outdoor light and the bustling district of Bjørvika near Oslo’s well-known Opera House.

Forbes has already included the library in a hot list of travel attractions. This might seem strange, says Forbes’ David Nikel, but “Oslo’s new flagship library is about far more than rows of dusty books.”

“We aim to redefine what a public library can be,” said Knut Skansen, director of Deichman, at the opening. Nikel suggests that some of the library may not be of much use to tourists, but “the basement cinema and theater, ground floor restaurant, first floor cafe, and top floor views of Oslofjord should provide plenty of interest,” along with its proximity to Oslo Central Station next door.

The new building was supposed to open at the end of March, but the national lockdown due to the coronavirus put a stop to that. Now that it is open, the goal is to host 2 million visitors a year. For now, 1,000 are allowed at the same time in the building, as opposed to the usual limit of 3,000. 

On social media there has been so much praise for the new library that even the employees have felt it. As one of them said, according to Aftenposten, “it was like walking into a shower of praise.” 

During the opening weekend more than 22,000 people, including many families, visited the library. More than 5,000 books were loaned out. Children can read, make things, play, and discover. The library has everything from 3-D printers and sewing machines to soldering irons and laser cutting equipment. In the music department, you can record a podcast, practice the guitar, or try your hand as a DJ. Children can listen to fairy tales and have a lot of fun.

The Deichman public library system is named for Carl Deichman (1700-1780). Deichman was born in Denmark but grew up in Oslo, where his father was the bishop. He later settled in Telemark. Having developed a practical knowledge of mining operations, he founded Fossum Ironworks with his brother and brother-in-law. When he died, his personal collection of over 6,000 books and an additional endowment formed the initial basis for the first Oslo Public Library in 1785. Today, you can find his books at the top floor of the new Deichman Library.

Mark your calendars for our Sept. 4 Education Issue when we’ll take you on an insider’s tour of the Deichman.

This article originally appeared in the July 31, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Rasmus Falck

Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his masters degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo.