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About the UNIS Library


The first contacts between UNIS and the Norwegian Polar Institute in Longyearbyen about library services where established.

1994 - August 1995
The library started as a cooperation between the Norwegian Polar Institute and UNIS in Næringsbygget. There were a few users and not that many books and journals in the beginning. UNIS kept a librarian in a half time position. The librarian worked in Bergen, with the use of BIBSYS. The Norwegian Polar Institute in Longearbyen funded a library assistant in a 1/4 position.

August 1995 - October 2005
The UNIS building opened the 14th of August 1995, and a few days later the first librarian began working in the new library. She replaced the former librarian and library assistant.

Photo: Tor Brekke
From the old UNIS library,which opened in 1995. (Photo: Tor Brekke).

The UNIS Library was small (93 m²), so already in 1998 some of the documents had to be stored outside the library. The library got more databases over the years to come, and the users got full value from these databases and full text from January 2004, when Longyearbyen and UNIS got connected to fibre optics via subsea cables from the mainland. 

In the spring of 2005 many journals where moved into a storage in the outskirts of the town.


November 2005 - July 2012
The library moved into the new Svalbard Science Centre in November 2005, the library now covering 333 m². In the late autumn of 2006, the library was almost back to business as usual. During 2007, the RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) labelling of books and some serials took place. Also, the library employed a second librarian in a 80 % position (including research documentation). From October 2009, this librarian had a one year leave before handing in his resignation. The position was put on hold due to UNIS funding issues. Some library services were reduced.

July 2012 -
Gro Heidi Råmunddal was employed as an IT-librarian/special librarian. The library now had two full time librarians. A new sitting area and a new front desk made the library look very different from mid July.

Some library characteristics:

  • Library system: The UNIS Library is a member of BIBSYS. BIBSYS supplies library and information systems to most institutions of higher education and many research institutions in Norway. 

  • Coverage: The UNIS Library covers many subject areas within arctic biology, geology, geophysics and technology, and also at different scientific levels - therefore the demand for literature is high compared to the total number of users. The library subscribes to many databases and ejournals, and these collections are available 24/7.

  • Impact: Most courses at UNIS put students to work with reports and/or presentations -  therefore the library services and resources are very important for the results and the grades. Inter library loan services still play an important role, although a growing collection has made this service less dominant.
  • Location: The UNIS Library has been the northernmost of the world since the autumn of 1998.

  • Memberships: The UNIS Library has been a member of the Polar Libraries Colloquy since 1996, and in June 2000, the UNIS librarian was elected as member of the Steering Committee of the Polar Libraries Colloquy (June 2000 - June 2002, then reelected two more periods till 2006). The library has also been a member of Norsk Bibliotekforening for quite some time.

Photo: Michael Matschiner
The new UNIS library opened in 2005. (Photo: Michael Matschiner)

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The University Centre in Svalbard | Pb. 156 | 9171 Longyearbyen, Norway | Tel: +47 79 02 33 00 - Fax: +47 79 02 33 01| Org. 985 204 454 |