Scandinavian printed collections

From Beskrivelse over Finmarkens Lapper by Knud Leem
From Beskrivelse over Finmarkens Lapper by Knud Leem (Kiøbenhavn, 1767)

The Scandinavian collections cover the whole range of Nordic languages and represent one of the largest collections of books published in the Scandinavian countries.

About the collection

Our early collections have particular strengths in Old Icelandic literature, texts of the Bible, historiography, topography and law, as well as in the natural sciences, including most of the work of Linnaeus and his pupils. The early collections have been enhanced by the extensive holdings of modern academic and other secondary literature which make it not simply a closed library of older literature but a living research collection. The Short Title Catalogue of pre-1801 items includes around 11,250 titles

Linguistics, literature, folklore and history are especially well covered within the field of Scandinavian Studies.  Our collecting policy is to acquire research-level monographs and serials within the humanities and social sciences including bibliographies, reference works, statistics and reports and a representative collection of significant modern literary works.

Material is acquired in the whole range of Nordic languages (Danish, Faeroese, Finnish, Greenlandic, Icelandic, Norwegian, Saami and Swedish) as well as a significant number of Scandinavian books published in English, and to a lesser extent in other West-European languages. As well as acquiring recently published material, we also collect earlier material in order to fill gaps.

What is available online?

All our Scandinavian printed holdings can be found in the British Library’s online catalogue, Explore the British Library.

Increasing numbers of pre-1875 books in our catalogue can also be accessed online via the Google Books project.

What is available in our Reading Rooms?

Most post-1850 Scandinavian printed books and periodicals can be ordered to any of our Reading Rooms, usually within 70 minutes, although an increasing amount of material is held at our Boston Spa site in Yorkshire and may take up to two days to arrive.

Pre-1850 material can be consulted in the Rare Books and Music Reading Room, while newspapers, maps and manuscripts are available in their own respective Reading Rooms. All the reading rooms have some reference works on open shelves, including bibliographies, catalogues, dictionaries and general reference works.

A large number of electronic resources are available through the Reading Room PCs.