The addition of 5,000 Africa-related scholarly e-books to the national library portal fits well with Iceland’s vivid international exchange. There are 1,500 international students hosted in the country and 2,700 Icelandic students abroad, making Iceland’s outbound student mobility ratio (14 percent) the highest in the Nordics. Source: Unesco.

Iceland gets access to e-publications on Africa

Almost 5,000 freely downloadable e-publications from the Nordic Africa Institute's library have been made available for researchers, journalists, policymakers and the general public on Iceland.

Leitir means searches in Icelandic. And more searches is just what Åsa Lund Moberg, head of the Nordic Africa Institute’s library, is hoping for now that the new agreement for cooperation has been reached regarding Iceland's national library portal Leitir. Disseminating the library’s collections to all Nordic countries has been a long-term goal during her twelve years as head of the library. According to her, national library portals are of key importance to reach this goal.
“Our collections are available through many different online-catalogues on the internet, including of course our own search engine Africalitplus which is open to all. Anyone can explore our material and download the e-publications through these databases. But this availability has no real effect as long as people are not acquainted with the catalogues. We have to adopt to the reality that users turn to the search engines they are familiar with”, says Åsa Lund Moberg.
She points at Denmark as an example of how important it is to be present in the most well-established search engines or portals.
“Until 2007, when our material became available through the Danish portal, we had about 25 interlibrary loans to Denmark. The following year we had a thousand and since then we have stayed at that level.”
Iceland was one of the five Nordic states that founded the Nordic Africa Institute in 1962 and has since remained a financing and directorial stakeholder to the institute. The country has three embassies in Africa – in Malawi, Mozambique and Uganda.
Åsa Lund Moberg is now hoping for a similar effect in Iceland when it comes to downloads of e-publications. A boom in interlibrary loans (ILLs) is however not to be expected because Icelandic libraries charge user fees for supplying ILLs from abroad.
“Since national rules are so different in the Nordic countries we need to have diversified dissemination strategies. In Sweden, Denmark and Norway, ILLs from other Nordic countries are free of charge, but in Iceland and Finland, they are not. So for us it is more important to disseminate e-books than printed books to the Icelandic and Finnish users,” says Åsa Lund Moberg, adding that e-publications constitute 15 to 20 percent of the library collection’s yearly growth.
Finland is next in line
The Finnish equivalent to Iceland’s Leitir is Finna. Through this search engine the archives, libraries and museums of Finland have made their material available. Ever since the launch of Finna in 2013, the Nordic Africa Institute has been trying to enter with its library collection, but for technical as well as bureaucratic reasons this has proved to be a complex quest. A few weeks ago the matter was up for discussion again.
“Finna is constantly expanding. More and more libraries integrate their catalogues in the search engine. It now has 120 member organisations, so far only Finnish. We have been in touch with Finna to see how we could fit into their expansion plans. A number of questions need to be sorted out. Maybe we will have a road map by this fall,” says Åsa Lund Moberg, head of the Nordic Africa Institute’s library.

Ways to access our library resources

Sweden: The institute’s library has integrated at the national Swedish library portal Libris, since it was first made available online on the internet in the 1990’s. Swedish libraries have free-of-charge interlibrary loans from Nordic countries.

Denmark: The institute’s entire collection is since 2007 searchable through the Danish national library portal and Danish residents can make loan reservations straight from there. Danish libraries have free-of-charge interlibrary loans from Nordic countries.

Iceland: The institute’s library collection of e-publications is since March this year searchable and freely downloadable through Iceland’s national library portal Leitir. Icelandic libraries charge user fees for interlibrary loans of printed books from Nordic countries.

Finland: The institute’s library collection is not available through the Finnish national library portal Finna, but the prospect of integrating at least the e-publications into Finna looks hopeful. Finnish residents can already today find and download all our e-publications for free through Africalitplus. Finnish libraries charge user fees for interlibrary loans of printed books from Nordic countries.

Norway: Since the its collection is not searchable through the Norwegian national library portal Oria, the institute’s library does not reach out so well to Norway. Norwegian residents can however turn to AfricaLit Plus for access to the entire collections. Norwegian libraries have free-of-charge interlibrary loans from Nordic countries.

The rest of the world. The collection of almost 5,000 freely downloadable e-publications is available all over the world through the institute’s own online search engine AfricaLit Plus.


Pétur Skúlason Waldorff, anthropologist and development consultant, University of Iceland.

“A rising interest in Africa research in Iceland”

Comment from former NAI-researcher Pétur Skúlason Waldorff:

"The accessibility of the Nordic Africa Institute’s electronic publications in Iceland through Leitir is of immense importance for African studies in Iceland. This is especially important in light of the increased influx of international students, among them African students, in recent years, as well as rising interest in Africa research and international development studies at the University of Iceland."

"Furthermore, as Leitir is open to all Icelandic IP addresses, this addition to its database expands not only academia’s access to important articles, books and documents on a variety of African issues and research, but also to policy makers, civil society and the general Icelandic public."

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