The norwegian library central is ready to lend ebooks, the only problem is that there is no books to lend. The Norwegian publishers have no ebooks to deliver, even though all books are delivered as digital books when they go out for printing.
According to an article in aftenposten, the Norwegian publishers did try to publish ebooks in the 90’s and it failed miserably. I lived in the nineties and I can’t remember any such thing, though I’m very curious if anybody else remembers something about it. Most likely they were a bit too early out, chickened out without accepting the economical implications the long term investment it would be.
The library central is using a system named DiViLib (Digital virtual library) to lend ebooks,audio books, films and music over the web. This system is already in use at Stockholms Stadsbibliotek (state library) and last year 23 400 ebooks were lend out. Not a big number, but still acceptable when every ebook has a lending time of 2 – 4 weeks.
Now things are about to change. The national library and the publishers union has signed an agreement to store norwegian books digitally. During the first three years it will be voluntary for the publishers to deliver digital editions of books, and the digital books will only be available for search on the library premises to begin with. This initiative is primarily for researchers, and not for everyday people.
It’s a start at least.