“Start-up” to create an internal archive


Open invitation
Preservation and digitalisation activities of the National Library of Norway

This is an open invitation to all Tamil organisations in Norway. DsporA Tamil Archive is in dialogue with the National Library of Norway. Based on our request, they are happy to arrange a tailored guided tour and conversation about private archives. But because of Covid-19, the guided tour and conversation has been changed to an online conversation.

This can be a “start-up” platform to get a general introduction and information about what archive is, which significance does your organisational archives have for your organisation and the society, and how your organisation can document its functions and activities.

Thank you for your registration! Further details coming soon.

Updated: 18.10.2020

Tamils have taken the initiative to archive in Canada

Photo: wikipedia

«Tamils in Canada», an organisation in Canada contacted DsporA Tamil Archive on 27th August 2020. They have taken the first initiative to find out the opportunities and procedures to archive their organisational archive in Canada.

DsporA Tamil Archive assisted the particular Tamil organisation by sending an email to the Library and Archive Canada. The email contained a request for information and procedures for archiving organisational archive (private archive), digitalising documents, and archiving website and social media in Canada. We received an automated reply with a reference number. Due to the worldwide pandemic situation, the Library and Archives Canada have begun the gradual reopening of its public service points and consultation rooms, and more of its services. They also assured that they will respond to our question as soon as possible, but that it can take up to 4 months to respond to more complex queries.

DsporA Tamil Archive had a communication with the particular Tamil organisation and they are now going to make direct contact with the Library and Archives Canada and refer to the email. In addition, it will be appropriate to ask the legal formalities about ownership of archiving private archives in Canada. According to Norwegian archival law, a private archive (all kinds of archive except archives created by governmental bodies) can be preserved at an archive depot under two different ownership formality.

  1. Handing over (Avlevering)
  2. Depositing (Deponering)

In the “handing over” formality, the ownership of the archive is given away to the archival institution. The institution will have full authority to consider access based on protecting any confidential or personal details (confidentiality and privacy policy/ taushetsplikt og personvern) in the archival materials. On the other hand, “depositing” means that the archive creator (the organisation or a person) holds the ownership while the archive is preserved at an archival institution.
(Read more about “Two ways to preserve archive at an archive depot/ archive institution

The main consideration in archiving at an archive depot in your residential country should be based on the history of migrated Tamils. Their long history of oppression in all kinds of way includes the prohibition of the right to inform and to get information. The burning of the Jaffna library in 1981 is an example of cultural genocide to erase the capability to present the historical evidence of Tamil existence. There have been many other incidents in the homeland as well as in the diaspora, where cultural and historical information and evidence is trapped, hidden, destroyed and prohibited consciously and unconsciously.

Complete preservation means to take good care of cultural and historical archive from any kinds of natural, man-made or technological destructions. Preservation also includes public access. That is the only way to enable history to continue to live even after one´s life is ended.

“Archives are pieces of evidence of the existence.”

DsporA Tamil Archive

Reproduction of this article is allowed when used without any alterations to the contents and the source, DsporA Tamil Archive, is mentioned.

Personal archive: Tamils visit Bergen City Archive


Family members of Philominamma George visited Bergen City Archive on Thursday 27th August 2020. Caroline Thevanathan, Jerinmary George Kiserud and Thommai Madutheenu George were the second group of Tamils visiting the Bergen City Archive. The first Tamil, Julius Antonipillai, visited the same archive on Friday 26th June 2020. He is the director of the local Tamil radio, “Radio Tamil Bergen” (“தேன் தமிழ் ஓசை”). This is the first time for both Julius and the family of Philominamma to visit an archive. Same with Bergen City Archive that experienced their first visits by Tamils in Bergen regarding archiving their history.

Philominamma George migrated to Norway in 1987. She was a trained teacher in Eelam (Sri Lanka) and became mother tongue language teacher in Tamil at Norwegian government schools in Bergen municipality in 1988. At the same time, she was also volunteering as a mother tongue language teacher in Tamil at Bergen Tamil Children’s School (தமிழ் சிறுவர் பாடசாலை). This was the first Tamil school that started in Norway in 1987. Then at Bergen branch of Annai Poopathi Tamil Cultural Center (அன்னை பூபதி தமிழ்க் கலைக்கூடம், பேர்கன் வளாகம்) that stared in 2002.
Philominamma and her husband moved back to Eelam in 2004 under the cease-fire period to work as an English teacher at the Kantharuban Arivucholai1 in Vanni. In December 2004, she died in the tsunami and was buried in her homeland, Eelam. She was respected with the title patriot (“நாட்டுப்பற்றாளர்”) by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in recognition of her social work in diaspora and the homeland.

Julius Antonipillai visited Bergen City archive to find out about archiving his “organisation archive”. But the family of Philominamma visited the same institution regarding archiving the “personal archive” of Philominamma. These are two different kinds of archive in the field of “private archive”. The mother tongue language teacher wrote the book, “Tamil 1” (1995), that was the first Tamil textbook published in Norway with the support from National Teaching Aids Center. The Bergen City Archive encouraged the family to collect Philominamma´s work. That can include unpublished work of Tamil poems, speeches, and any handwritten pre-work done for the books “Tamil 1” and “Tamil 2” (1997), photos, CD, albums and others.

Caroline Thevanathan (daughter of Philominamma Geroge) told DsporA Tamil Archive how surprised and amazed her family was when they were inside the Bergen City Archive. They were informed and showed around the materials that the archive preserves and how the materials are protected from any kinds of destruction. As well as how the public access function. The preservation area is inside a mountain that is secured to maintain the same temperature that can otherwise also damage a paper over time.

The family had also talked about the oppressing history of Tamils, who have experienced prohibition of the right to information that has lead to selective information at their homeland. The archive institution explained the function of archives in Norway, which is to archive all kinds of materials including differing or opposing political views, opinions, experiences and history. The functionality of Norwegian archives is to contribute to transparency and control of the democracy in this country.

Open invitation

Caroline Thevanathan also conveyed the open invitation received by the Bergen City Archive. They are more welcome to receive Tamil organisations and Tamil individuals to archive Tamil art, culture and history.
Julius Antonipillai and the family of Philominamma are happy to share their experiences and thoughts about their visit to Bergen City Archive with other Tamils. As a first step don´t hesitate to take a contact. Then give a chance to visit a national, inter-municipal or municipal archive in your place.

Thank you for the first generation of migrated Tamils to give a chance to find out about preserving Tamil art, culture and history for the generations to come. DsporA Tamil Archive do also encourages the second or even third generations of Tamils to put archiving on their individual or organisational agenda to preserve the history of Tamil society.

1 “Kantharuban Arivucholai” was a children’s home for boys who had lost their parents in the war in Eelam. Likewise, “Sencholai Siruvar Illam” was a children’s home for girls.

Due to the lack of or fragmented archives or limited access to archives in Tamil society, it has been challenging to get access to available sources that can support oral history interviews.
In this situation, writing about diaspora Tamil history will be a dynamic process which may change its shape and be updated over time. Thus, we welcome the public to provide feedback with any verifiable sources in the case of need for correction in the factual information in this website.

Reproduction of this article is allowed when used without any alterations to the contents and the source, DsporA Tamil Archive, is mentioned.

Updated: 18.10.2020

Oral history


The archaeological artefacts from Keezhadi excavation show evidence of a well-developed Tamil script and civilisation already in 6th century BCE. The existing printed Tamil literature is from the three periods of the Sangam era, which is calculated to be between 3rd century BC to 3rd century AD.

It is important to notify that development of script and writing practices do not automatically lead to creating, capturing records and archiving. Lack of capture of records leads to no archive. And no archive leads to no documented history. But it is also important to underline that lack of documented history does not mean that history did not exist.

On the other hand, the sea trade of Tamils with the Roman Empire in the Sangam Era indicate that documents must have been created for their sea trade administration. That means, there must have been a record-keeping and archiving system. The only preserved and available archival documents about the Tamil trade with the Roman Empire are foreign archival materials. For instance, the English translation of the Greco-Roman periplus, “The Periplus of the Erythrean sea” (1912)1, by Wilfred H. Schoff. The original manual is a manuscript document that lists the ports and coastal landmarks. It includes approximate intervening distances, that the captain of a vessel could expect to find along with a shore. It contains the business practice in the sea trade, the laws to be followed at the ports (customs), details about the traders that came from Roman, Arabia, and various places in, nowadays, India to the ancient Tamil country2 in South India. As well as the business events and details about major trade items.

Another evidence for administration is the ancient seals. These seals are from the Sangam era found at the sixth phase of the Keelazhi excavation. According to Dinamalar National Daily, these are seals of the ancient tortoise image. These may have been used to identify people leaving and entering countries, and may be assigned by the authorities to monitor this. It is said that the seals have been used to effectively manage and identify outsiders.

Dinamalar National Daily, 26th August 2020.

When Tamil has such an ancient history for its script, written practice, civilisation and administration why did record-keeping and archiving practices evolve to oral history?

Recorded documents protect the continuity of history. There are various continuing factors for the lack of recorded documents among Tamils. For instance, migration, invasion, colonisation, seize of governance, war and militarisation. Consequently, it has brought a necessity to document and preserve3 the surviving oral history into text, audio or video formats. Documenting oral history in text, audio or video format is a form of reconstruction or representation of history. It is not a pre-planned or directed or edited entertainment or commercial media production. However, it might have some amendments based on privacy policy and confidentiality of people that are involved in the recorded oral history.

The author of this article has been interviewing the first generation of migrated Tamils in Norway for another historical book project. It was not started as a project of DsporA Tamil Archive. The prepared interview guide for the historical book project is modified and given here.

In the conjunction of the local history book project, the author of this article was also in contact with Memoar and Minner.no. The collected information is given here as experience and knowledge sharing about oral history.

  • What is oral history?
  • Oral History: Interview guide
  • Oral History: Interview process
  • Oral History: Advantages and Disadvantages
  • Oral history vs. audio-, visual- or text-based media production
  • Oral History: Formats
  • Oral History: Examples
  • Oral History: Privacy and freedom of speech
  • Oral History: Ownership
  • Oral History: Origin
  • Oral History: Preservation and use
  • Aavanaham.org
  • Minner.no
  • Memoar – norsk organisasjon for munnleg historie (Memoar – Norwegian organisation for oral history)
  • Open invitation from Memoar

What is oral history?

Oral history is a process of documenting oral tradition. «Oral tradition, also called orality, the first and still most widespread mode of human communication. Far more than “just talking,” oral tradition refers to a dynamic and highly diverse oral-aural medium for evolving, storing, and transmitting knowledge, art, and idea» from one generation to another generation.

“Oral History collects memories and personal commentaries of historical significance through recorded interviews. An oral history interview generally consists of a well-prepared interviewer questioning an interviewee and recording their exchange in audio or video format. Recordings of the interview are transcribed, summarized, or indexed and then placed in a library or archives. These interviews may be used for research or excerpted in a publication, radio or video documentary, museum exhibition, dramatization or other form of public presentation. Recordings, transcripts, catalogs, photographs and related documentary materials can also be posted on the Internet. Oral history does not include random taping, such as President Richard Nixon’s surreptitious recording of his White House conversations, nor does it refer to recorded speeches, wiretapping, personal diaries on tape, or other sound recordings that lack the dialogue between interviewer and interviewee.”

Donald Ritchie

Sea trades of Tamils indicate that there must have been an existence of an administrative record-keeping and archiving system among Tamils during the Sangam periods. Parallelly, their oral tradition, such as folklore and others. But now, even administrative record-keeping and archiving are also evolving over to oral tradition. This is especialy a widespread situation in the diaspora.

Oral History: Interview guide

The author of this article created interview guides for a book project about how Tamil migration to Norway has developed Tamil education in Norway. This is a self-initiated project by the author to document the local history of Tamils in Norway. It was not started as a project of DsporA Tamil Archive.

The interview guides are modified to meet the topic, “migrated life of Tamils in Norway”. This guide is created for the Norwegian context. However, the questions in this guide can apply for Tamils in other diaspora countries. But it might be necessary to modify the questions to fit the context of other respective diaspora countries.

Oral History: Interview process

Step 1:

The guide can be used as an inspiration or as a guide to carry out an interview. Select suitable questions from this guide that are relevant for your interview object, interview environment and context, within the framework of “Migrated life of Tamils in Norway”. During an interview, the story told by the interview object might generate other questions within the interviewer. If the questions are relevant to the purpose and context of your interview, let those questions to be asked.

Another method is to let the interview object start to tell his/ her story freely within the given framework. Then, if necessary, ask questions from your prepared interview guide to keep on track and to bring in any forgotten aspects.


  • It should be open questions. The questions should not lead the interview objects to give a YES or NO answer. OR the questions should not lead to the interview object to tell a favourable answer.
  • Do not go into discussions. You as an interviewer might or might not agree with the story or information that an interview object is telling you.
  • You are only a listener and not a defender!

Step 2:

After the recording. Give the audio or video file to the interview object to allow the person to check if the information in a record is fine to be preserved.
If any amendments, they need to be edited.

Step 3:

Signing a consent form with specifications about how the material can be used and preserved.

Step 4:

Make arrangements for storing and preserving the documents.

Minner.no method

When DsporA Tamil Archive contacted Minner.no, we got knew that they do also have a similar process. But they focus on oral history as research materials and therefore they have a detailed consent form for research purposes. However, the consent form is intermediary to make the file available at the website, either with an open or close access plan. This is a temporary consent form that has a valid until the interview object can take over the responsibility to administrate the file. It means that the person can withdraw the file at any time or leave the file on minner.no for eternity.

Memoar method

The “Memoar method” for oral history is available as a manual located on their website. They do not have a guide or template for interviews as an interview project can cover various themes and one guide cannot cover all themes or topics. But they have courses regularly. These courses are especially aimed at groups/ organisations that are interested in documenting certain topics or areas. Typically, it is local history teams, museums or schools that are about to celebrate their anniversaries or similar that participate in such courses. Memoar can also run courses online and can hold courses in English. But among the participants or topics, there must be some connections with Norway.

Oral History: Advantages and disadvantages
  • This is a great way to save undocumented history that might be endangered or is about to extinct.
  • It can give voice to people who cannot write as well themselves, and people whose stories are not documented in other ways.
  • People telling their own stories also give their perspectives on the topic.
  • Audio or visual history told by an involved person gives the closest representation to a particular time or period even after 50 and 100 years.
  • History in audio or visual gives another dimension that text might not give.
  • Documenting a history of several decades in audio or video is time saving rather than writing 50 years of history.
  • A useful way of documenting the past to give an overview of a topic, person, thing, period or phenomena.
  • An excellent tool for people who cannot read to know the history
  • The interview object might lose his/ her memory.
  • The accuracy of the details might be weakened.
  • The interview object might tell what they wished to gain rather than what they gained in reality.
  • Some will only talk about positive achievements and avoid talking about setbacks and challenges.
  • Oral history might create a selective history.

A user of an oral history document might search for other archival documents to verify details about a certain time, incident, action, transaction that are told in oral history. This will be a natural process in a research or production based on oral history. These disadvantages are important to note when one does source criticism (information evaluation). However, they should not discourage from doing oral history as the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

Oral history vs. audio-, visual- or text-based media production

Documenting oral history lets the interview object talk freely without a pre-planned time limit. So oral history documentation can take more than one session. Normally a session can be between 1,5 – 2 hours or less. Another important element is that oral history documentation should not have any other purpose than documenting a history. This element makes oral history different from a journalistic or commercial interview that aims to get a piece of specific information within a time limit. They are normally edited for media production.

On the other hand, oral history is informal and casual audio or video recording of, for instance, a grandmother telling her life story to her grandchildren. Therefore oral history documentation can vary in duration from minutes to hours.

Oral History: Formats
Audio and video

The oral history can be documented either in audio or video formats. It is also essential to think about file size and available storage capacity. And more importantly, file formats that are capable of long-term preservation.


When it comes to text format, oral history recorded in audio or visual formats can be transcribed into text. But this transcription will be for the purpose of the finding aids at a library or archive.

The person herself/ himself can also write down their personal memories and experiences into a text document, but this is not categorised as oral history.
Handwritten personal memories can also be archived in different ways:

  • Handwritten papers can be archived as physical documents in a physical repository.
  • Handwritten papers can be scanned for digitalisation. The digital file can be archived in a digital repository.
  • Handwritten text can be computer typed documents. These files can be archived in a digital repository.

Scanned and then digitalised files, and computer typed files need to be exported as a PDF/A file format. This format is a variety of PDF that is an International standardised format for long-term archiving. But it is important to keep any physical documents as well as the digital file for authentication and verification.

Oral History: Examples

ROTA: Race On The Agenda – Through the Generations (Eelam Tamil Oral History, based in London)
Arbeiderminnene (The working memories)
British Library Oral History
Oral History in the Digital Age
Oral History Center
Over 600 oral histories of combat veterans
Vietnam War Era Veterans Oral Histories
Rosie the Riveter / World War II Home Front Oral History Project

Oral History: Privacy and freedom of speech

There are some guidelines that everyone should adhere to when it comes to privacy and freedom of expression in Norway.


According to Norwegian privacy policy a text, audio and video about a person is considered as private information. So, consent forms are important! The person being interviewed (audio/ video/ text) must approve that the person can be interviewed. And that the oral history record can be preserved at a repository. Memoar has two different principles:

  1. An interview can be preserved as research material. It means that the document is only available for research.
  2. An interview can be made openly available for the public.

The interview object needs to approve by signing a consent form. This consent form approves how the material can be preserved and made available. But the person needs to give an oral consent in the first part of the video/ audio recording that documents that the person has approved to be recorded. According to Noolaham, they do also have the same practice of getting oral consent at the beginning of a recording.

Here is the consent form of Memoar:

Freedom of speech

When it comes to freedom of speech, the people interviewed can freely talk about what they are interested in, but within the given framework. However, according to Memoar, they cannot demand that the interview be published. At this point, Memoar relates to press ethics where they act as editors for the content. If something may be harmful to third parties, Memoar does not publish the content. For instance, those who are mentioned in the interview who have not themselves approved that they are mentioned, or there are other reasons for it. This part can be cut from the published version so that it is preserved on the original recording and may be available for research. But it is inaccessible to the public even if the rest of the interview is open.

Oral History: Ownership

According to Memoar, their principle is that the person who is been interviewed who owns the recording. The interviewer is not the primary owner, but a secondary owner. Same with the photographer or an organisation. The person being interviewed can at any time request that the interview being deleted, or that parts of it be deleted at a later date. The interview object(s) can withdraw their contribution at any time. However, Memoar has made the “right to withdraw a contribution” stop with the interview object. So, for instance, any grandchildren or descendants can not request to delete their grandmother’s recording. Memoar as an organisation owns the recording after the informant passes away and with it the administrative responsibility for the interview. All these kinds of specifications are signed by the interview object in their consent form.

Another aspect to consider is whether the collection is to document the history or only for use as research material.

If the documenting is for research purposes, some more factors need to be taken into consideration. And it needs to be done more detailed privacy work. For more information on documenting for research purposes:

https://www.etikkom.no/hvem-er-vi-og-hva-gjor-vi/Hvem- is-we / The-national-research-ethics-committee-for-social-sciences-and-humanities /

Oral History: Origin

An oral history document is making a record of reconstruction or re-presentation of history. However, it will be an archival document of the producing person or organisation in the future. For that record to become an archival document, the origin, purpose and context of the record need to be preserved. According to Memoar, based on privacy policy, the ownership of an oral history document will be within the interview object. But based on archive perspective, the origin of an oral history document will be the producing organisation or person. This is not about ownership but origin. For instance, DsporA Tamil Archive is documenting a person telling his/ her life history or a person telling the history of a Tamil organisation in Norway. The origin of this oral history will be DsporA Tamil Archive.

Oral History: Preservation and use

Memoar is one of several users that currently using minner.no to preserve the audio and video contributions. However, preservations of audio and video formats are the big questions that are an ongoing discussion. According to Memoar, at the moment, no one receives such private archival materials for storage in eternity. The National Library is in the process of this work, but still has a way to go before they are ready to receive private archives that will probably be a part of their collection.
For more information: www.abmdig.no

Meanwhile, Memoar is building a temporary private archive.
For more information: www.memoar.no/infrastruktur

Besides, they deliver the audio and video documentation through their project, “Muntlig historie for alle” (“Oral history for everyone”), to minner.no. And from there it will go to the “Norsk Folkeminnesamling” (Norwegian Folk Memory Collection). This is not a permanent solution.

 So far, Memoar themself is documenting and collecting such materials. They also collect from local history teams (historielagene) and other project groups. They store the collection in their dropbox while waiting for eternity storage to take care of them. Memoar does also publish on their website.

Noolaham publishes the oral history documents under Creative Commons licence at aavanaham.org.


Noolaham Foundation is a Tamil digital community archive. It was founded in 2005 as a “Noolaham project” by two Tamil volunteers in Eelam (Sri Lanka). Soon it developed into Noolaham Foundation with the joint contribution of collaborative and volunteer-driven people. It is funded by donations. Aavanaham.org is a part of Noolaham Foundation that was started in 2017. Aavanaham means “archive” and noolaham means “library” in Tamil. It collects, categories and index, stores, preserves and makes documents, in all kinds of medium, available for the public.

Noolaham Foundation has an oral history division under aavanaham.org. They document the oral history of people living in Eelam (Sri Lanka) under the project name “வாய்மொழி வரலாற்று ஆய்வு நிலையம்” (Oral Historical Research Station). As well as collecting oral history contributions by other Tamils around the world. This is one of the digital repositories to document, collect, store, preserve and make Tamil oral history available for public access. As far it is known, Noolaham is the first repository to preserve Oral history in Eelam.


Minner.no create a digital environment to collect, preserve and disseminate various forms of interviews and written appeals. Those documents show the knowledge and experiences of different people. According to Minner.no, the tool is under development, and they work with a long-term perspective to facilitate the best possible arrangements for:

  • Private individuals can pass on their own experiences – and take part in others´ experiences
  • Cultural institutions can invite the public to join in documenting various phenomena and events in society
  • Audiences, researchers and journalists can take part in how different people understand their own lives and living conditions
Memoar – norsk organisasjon for munnleg historie (Memoar – Norwegian organisation for oral history)

Memoar is a non-profit organisation that builds a resource centre for oral history in Norway. They work together with institutions and voluntary organisations to document, collect, preserve and disseminate oral source material about contemporary time. Their purpose is “å fremja ein kultur for å ta vare på og dela munnlege forteljiongar om levd liv” (“to promote a culture of preserving and sharing oral narratives about lived life”).

Memoar is currently documenting daily life in 2020, focused on the corona.
For more information: http://www.memoar.no/korona. At the current situation, they do also interview through zoom or other platforms and record the conversation.

An open invitation from Memoar.no

When DsporA Tamil Archive contacted Memoar, they showed an interest and gave an open invitation to hold practical courses for interested Tamil individuals, organisations or other societies for collecting oral history about the past and present. At the moment Memoar has funding through the project “Oral history for everyone”, and the course thus costs nothing for the participants. But the participants need to arrange a place to hold the course.

Endnote and reference:

1 Department of Tamil in Annamalai University and Thiruvannamalai Government Arts College Postgraduate Department of Tamil Studies (திருவண்ணாமலை அரசு கலைக் கல்லூரி முதுகலை தமிழ் ஆய்வுத் துறை) together organised a one-week International seminar under the title “வரலாற்றியல் நோக்கில் தமிழர் பண்பாட்டு அடையாளங்கள்” (Tamil Cultural Identities in Historical Perspective). The 6th day of the conference was conducted on 08th August 2020 under the topic “ரோமானியப் பேரரசு கால ஆவணங்கள் கூறும் சங்ககால வணிகச் செய்திகள்” (Roman Empire period documents telling about the trades from the Sangam era). The topic was presented by K. Subashini. She is a multinational cultural researcher and president of the Tamil Heritage Foundation, Germany.

tamilchindhanaimarabu tvm. (2020). Home [YouTube channel]. Retrieved August 08, 2020, from https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HyuQq81LYGU.

2 The ancient Tamil country (பண்டைய தமிழகம்) is the territory ruled by the three dynasties namely the Chera, Chola and Pandyas during the Sangam era until around 15th century. It covers the territories of present-day Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

3 A record in text, audio, video or other medium is a method of documenting something. And it is a phase of an arching process. An archiving process is complete when a record is compiled, stored and preserved in a repository for use by contemporary and future generations.

Thank you:

Noolaham Foundation, Eelam

Minner.no, Norway

Memoar – Norwegian organisation for oral history, Norway

Due to the lack of or fragmented archives or limited access to archives in Tamil society, it has been challenging to get access to available sources that can support oral history interviews.
In this situation, writing about diaspora Tamil history will be a dynamic process which may change its shape and be updated over time. Thus, we welcome the public to provide feedback with any verifiable sources in the case of need for correction in the factual information in this website.

Reproduction of this article is allowed when used without any alterations to the contents and the source, DsporA Tamil Archive, is mentioned.

Updated 22.10.2020

The National Library of Norway: Legal Deposit (Pliktavlevering)


Tamil is one of the oldest languages in the world. But there is a poor representation of this ancient language at Norwegian public libraries.

National Library of Norway (NB) has the assignment of legal deposit of all Norwegian publications and productions regardless of medium. This institution has the responsibility for preserving all types of publications and production published in Norway under the «pliktavlevering» (legal deposit) Act. The term «pliktavlevering» (legal deposit) may sound strict. But in practice giving a publication to the Norwegian National Library for long term preservation depends on the person who produces and publishes a publication.

This does not mean books only! But, everything from books to maps, movies, posters, broadcasting, newspapers and much more.
All the publications and productions are important representative role models and inspiration for young and future creators. Preservation and availability and accessibility at public platforms develop a recognition. One can relate to the visual and virtual holdings and develop belongingness and pride about own language, culture and history.

More importantly, according to the Norwegian legal deposit act (pliktavlevering), all Norwegian publications and productions, regardless of medium, has a legal deposit (pliktavlevering) at the Norwegian National library (Nasjonalbiblioteket).

It is also mentioned briefly about “The Multilingual Library”, that handle multilingual publications in printed and other media.

  • Legal Deposit (Pliktavlevering): Norwegian publications
  • Books and other printed publications
    • ISBN
    • Accessibility and availability
    • Digitised publications
    • Access to the National Library’s digital collections from abroad
  • The Multilingual Library – Det flerspråklige biblioteket
  • Digital materials: Ebooks
  • Digital materials: Websites
  • Digital materials: Social Media
  • Recorded music and visual media
  • Open invitation from the National library of Norway

Legal Deposit (Pliktavlevering): Norwegian publications

The mandate of the National Library of Norway (NB) is “collection, preservation and making available of published content within all types of medium. Traditionally, “published content” has been printed materials such as books and magazines. But today «published content» includes also audio, film and digital material. The keyword is “published content” and that distinguishes the mandate of the NB and the archives in Norway.
For more information about Legal Deposit (Pliktavlevering): www.pliktavlevering.no

Books and other printed publications

The law states that NB must have up to 7 copies of a book subject to delivery. But there are some exceptions. The publication will be registered at NB and preserved in their security magazine in the city Mo i Rana in Norway. In addition, copies will be given to the public service in Oslo and the Depot Library.
NB Registration Database:
(Select “Nasjonalbiblioteket” on this site)


Many Tamil books and other text-based publications are without ISBN number. We found out about the functionality of ISBN followed by a concern about publications without ISBN number.

It is optional to have an ISBN and it is not the element that determines whether a book is included in the collection of the NB and made available by them. ISBN is a useful tool for being able to identify and search for a book, for example in the booksellers’ systems. But it is not mandatory to have an ISBN on published books. It is up to the publisher to include it or not.

A Norwegian publisher (both ordinary publishers and self-publishers) can order ISBN number from the National Library of Norway for free of charge. The NB will assign ISBN number for publications published in Norway.

ISBN-13 with EAN 13 barcode on German language book. (wikipedia.org)

However, there are two things that matter:

  1. The book must be made publicly available, i.e. it must be spread over a closed circle. It cannot be a purely private release just for the family (NB sometimes make exceptions here if there are special reasons for it)
  2. The book must be published in Norway.
Accessibility and availability

The material will be registered in the National Library’s databases as soon as possible after receipt. When NB includes the books in their collection, they will be available for the public. The first copy goes to hedging for the future. Copy no. 2 will be available in the reading room in the NB in Oslo. Copy no. 3 will be available for interlibrary loans throughout the country. In addition, copies are sent to the university libraries in Tromsø, Trondheim, Bergen and Oslo and the Sami Parliament’s libraries. But not all types of publications are included in their collection. For instance, children’s books.

NB does not purchase books for Norwegian public libraries, such as Deichman Libraries (Oslo) and “Folkebibliotek” (nationwide). Contact the Multilingual Library (“Det flerspråklige biblioteket”) and recommend your book to them, to make Tamil publications available at Oslo and nationwide public libraries.

Digitised publications

All publications that are included in the NB collection will eventually be digitalised. Publications in other languages than Norwegian will also be digitalised.
The digitalised materials can be searched on this website:

But due to copyright, some of the digitalised files will be available only in the reading rooms at the NB in Solli Plass in Oslo. Other files can be accessed on your computer from your home. There is also limited access to universities and colleges and public libraries. More information about digital accesses: https://www.nb.no/hjelp-og-informasjon/rettigheter/

Access to the National Library’s digital collections from abroad

It is possible to apply for access to the National Library’s digital collections from abroad, but then you must have a special research or documentation need. More information about access from abroad: https://www.nb.no/hjelp-og-informasjon/bruk-av-bokhylla-i-utlandet/

The Multilingual Library – Det flerspråklige biblioteket

“The Multilingual Library is a service provided by the National Library of Norway. Our role is to support other libraries in their provision of library services to a multilingual and multicultural population.” They handle multilingual publications in literature and other media.
For more information:
Norwegian: https://dfb.nb.no/
English: https://dfb.nb.no/multilingual-library

Digital materials: Ebooks

E-books need to be uploaded here:

However, NB does not currently have a system in place that guarantees that they can preserve files in the formats, ibook / kindle / mobi. NB, therefore, advises, if possible, to create a version in PDF or EPUB, so that they can ensure that they can preserve the content. In that case, the submission needs to be enclosed with a letter stating that the original format is ibook or kindle or other.

Digital materials: Websites

The NB collects publicly available Norwegian material on the Internet.
Norwegian digital material on the internet includes:

  • Digital documents from the Norwegian domain (.no)
  • Digital documents from other domains that are specially adapted for Norwegian conditions or have a Norwegian publisher

If you have a website that you think the NB should preserve, you can nominate it by sending an email to nettarkivet@nb.no with the link to the website.
For more information:

Digital material is stored in the National Library’s digital security magazine, and it is available to the public in NB´s reading room at Solli Plass in Oslo. In the long run, the material will also be available from university and college libraries and other public libraries. This will be limited use for research and documentation purposes, governed by digital use licenses.

Digital materials: Social Media

Social media is not included in the online archive’s harvesting of websites.
One of the characteristics of social media is “Internet services that do not differentiate between producers and consumers of content”. It is difficult to place editorial responsibilities and to separate what are private statements and how these should be handled. This applies to privacy policy (Personvern). Several social media explicitly state that it is not allowed to harvest them with automatic methods. It is therefore a legal issue for foreign services such as Facebook.

Recorded music and visual media

Recorded music and live images are archived in the National Library’s security magazine in the city Mo i Rana in Norway. The second copy is an audience copy at the National Library in Oslo. This is not lent out but can be listened to in separate listening rooms. Delivered audio recordings are also made available for documentation work, studies and research.

Open invitation from the National library of Norway

When DsporA Tamil Archive contacted the National Library of Norway, the consultant at the section of legal deposit (pliktavlevering) responded that they do not have many titles in Tamil. They showed a great interest in receiving publications and productions. When it comes to books, as mentioned earlier, books published in Norway and that are widely available, regardless of whether they have an ISBN or not NB would like to receive them for collection, preservation and accessibility.

According to the legal deposit act (pliktavlevering), all publications, regardless of medium, published in Norway must be handed into the National Library of Norway. This information is given to all publishers (publishing companies and self-publishers) by the NB when they assign ISBNs. So it is not certain that everyone who publishes books without ISBNs has received this information about the law. Thereby many publications will be missing at the collection of the National Library of Norway.

The NB conveyed their great interest to take care of these publications! And asked DsporA Tamil Archive to help them to spread the information about legal deposit (pliktavlevering).

DsporA Tamil Archive encourages all Norwegian-Tamil authors, creators and producers to send their publications and productions to NB for preservation and accessibility.

Thank you:
The National Library of Norway

Reproduction of this article is allowed when used without any alterations to the contents and the source, DsporA Tamil Archive, is mentioned.

Updated: 22.10.2020

Tamil organisation visits Bergen city archive

This post is based on the original post from 27th June 2020 on Facebook page, “Archive of Tamils in Norway”.

Bergen City Archive


Hello everyone,

I am glad to share with you that a Tamil organisation in Bergen (Norway) has taken the initiative to give a chance to visit the Bergen city archive on Friday 26th June 2020.
There, the organisation representative was received by an archivist. The organisation was given a tour around Bergen city archive and an informational discussion about archival work.
I hope that the organisation will consider preserving some of their archival materials at the Bergen city archive in the near future.
I will give the details of the archive once the organisation has decided to preserve the archival materials at Bergen city archive.

I know that many Tamils are focused on digital access. So that worldwide Tamils can access archival materials online. We are in dialog to find a solution to preserve digital materials. Either digitalised materials or digitally created materials.

Thank you to the first-generation Tamils in Norway to take the time and give a chance to visit an archival institution in Norway.
You are the once that hold the historical and cultural heritage of the diaspora Tamils that are treasured for the future generations of Tamils. Please don´t forget that these archival materials are also a part of Norwegian documentation heritage.

Once again thank you to the first-generation Tamils in Norway 🙏🏽

Bergen City Archive

Kind regard,
K. Baheerathy

Reproduction of this article is allowed when used without any alterations to the contents and the source, DsporA Tamil Archive, is mentioned.