About the UNIS Library 

The first contracts between UNIS and the Norwegian Polar Institute in Longyearbyen about library services were 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. 

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 fiber optics via subsea cables from the mainland. 

In the spring of 2005, many journals were 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. Also, the library employed a second librarian in an 80% position. 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 – 
A new librarian was employed, so the library now had two full time librarians. A new sitting area and a new front desk made the library more comfortable from mid-July. 


The library transitioned from the BIBSYS Integrated Library System to Alma (developed by Ex Libris), along with the other academic libraries in Norway. A temporary position was established to assist in launching the new library system from 2015-2016.  


UNIS had two full-time employees and received one additional two-year position to establish UNIS’ online institutional archive. 

UNIS library characteristics 

Library system: The UNIS Library is part of The BIBSYS Consortia along with most institutions of higher education and many research institutions in Norway. A tender with Ex Libris provides all BIBSYS libraries with a modern ILS (Integrated Library System). 

Coverage: The UNIS Library covers many subject areas within arctic biology, geology, geophysics and technology, and at different academic levels – therefore the demand for literature is high compared to the total number of users. In addition to its physical collection the library subscribes to many databases and e-journals. 

Users: Faculty and students at UNIS are the primary users of the library. A few other institutions in the Svalbard Science Centre have walk-in-use of the UNIS Library and other library services. 

Location: The UNIS Library is found in The Svalbard Science Centre in Longyearbyen. After the Pyramiden settlement and its public library closed in 1998, the UNIS Library became the northernmost library in the world. 

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.