by Unni Knutsen, (Head of Bibliographic Services Department)

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Unni Knutsen (Head of Bibliographic Services Department)


One Library, Two Divisions

The National Library of Norway is divided into two Divisions 1,000 kilometres apart, at Oslo and Rana. These two divisions have the common interest of sharing the library’s music scores and sound material with its user groups. The main responsibility of the Rana Division is to collect, store and preserve sound material, including broadcasts, and to present examples of our cultural heritage to the general public. (1)

The main responsibility of the Oslo Division is to give researchers, as well as the “man in the street”, access to the material in the library’s collections. The National Music Collection (see is the largest and most comprehensive music library in Norway,and offers reference facilities and loan services to both individual and institutional users. (2)

Since music by nature is international, there is a need to supplement the national collections with relevant, foreign works on music.  Also, works related to Norwegian music or music published abroad by Norwegian composers or performers (norvegica extranea) are given priority.

Legal Deposit

The bulk of the material held by the National Library of Norway is collected under the provision of Norway’s legal deposit act (see The legal deposit of printed material including sheet music is the responsibility of the Rana Division, whereas legal deposit of sound recordings (mainly CDs) is the responsibility of the Oslo Division. To obtain the music material it is necessary to monitor a variety of sources, such as music magazines and web pages. It is a demanding task to trace the numerous music publishers, inform them of their obligations to send material to the National Library and to ensure that contact is established and maintained even when information officers move on to other fields of work or there are changes in the ownership of the various institutions and record companies. The National Library does not have the resources to monitor the market as closely as we would wish. During the last few years, however, more effort has been put into identifying publishers of contemporary genres. This effort has proved effective: we now receive more contemporary music than before.

The Norwegian ISMN Agency (see is also a valuable resource for identifying music publishers and their productions. The agency was established in 1996 and is situated at the National Library of Norway, Oslo Division. The ISMN system in Norway was introduced in close co-operation with the music publishers and the system is therefore widely used and appreciated by the producers. In addition to assigning international standard music numbers to Norwegian music publishers, the agency produces a directory of all publishers who participate in the ISMN service (see  This directory is included in the Music Publishers'  International ISMN Directory, published by the International ISMN Agency in Berlin.

Cataloguing Activities and Relevant Databases

It is the responsibility of both divisions to catalogue the material in their respective collections. Both divisions participate in the shared library system BIBSYS ( The Oslo Division acts as a centre of excellence for cataloguing, indexing, library classification and bibliographic formats, and is responsible for maintaining national codes, formats and guidelines in this field. The division is hence responsible for the Norwegian national bibliography, and offers a wide range of bibliographic services and products, some of which are mentioned below. The cataloguing principles are according to Norwegian rules, which since 1984 have been based on the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR 2). Non-Latin scripts are transcribed partly according to the Library of Congress system and partly according to ISO standards. All the databases mentioned below are available on the Internet and accessible via Z39.50.

There is great need to include older material, which for the time being is only available via card catalogues at the library, in our electronic catalogue and various databases.  Retrospective conversion of monographs and serials is being carried out. Later stages of the conversion programme will comprise music material, thus increasing the availability and use of our musical heritage.

Nordisko (

The Norwegian National Discography – Nordisko – contains references to some 10,000 sound discs (phonograph records, CDs and audio cassettes) published in Norway. The bulk of the material has been published from 1990 to date. Most of the sound recordings are published in Norway, but the database also covers sound recordings published abroad featuring Norwegian music and Norwegian artists or composers. Nordisko offers a variety of entry points such as words from title, notes fields or series, country of origin, names of persons, publishers, institutions, groups or orchestras, ISRC, ISBN and matrix number. All the records can be found in the library’s collection. The level of detail in description is relatively great, as can be seen from the example below:

Hits for kids [lydopptak]. 3 / [satt sammen av: Kjell Petter Askersrud]. - [Oslo] : Universal , 2000 - 1 plate (1 t, 13 min) : digital ; 12 cm
Finnes også som MC: 541765-4
Innhold: Larger than life / Max Martin, Kristian Lundin, Brian Littrell (Backstreet Boys). Cartoon heroes / Søren Rasted, Claus Norreen (Aqua). Fiesta de la noche : fiesta radio edit / Rosani Reis ... et al. (Yamboo). Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (a man after midnight) / Benny Andersson, Björn Ulväus (A-Teens). Kiss (when the sun don't shine) / Danski & D.J. Delmundo (Vengaboys). Blue (Da ba dee) / Maurizio Lobina, Corey Randone, Massimo Gabutti (Eiffel 65). Dear Jessie / Madonna, Patrick Leonard (Rollergirl). Heut' ist mein Tag / Hilbert, Pape, Paralyzer (Blümchen). Slam dunk da funk / Denniz Pop ... et al. (Five). (You drive me) crazy / Jörgen Elofsson ... et al. (Britney Spears). Nothing good about goodbye / Phoenix Stone ... et al. (P. Stone). Mickey / Nicky Chinn, Mike Chapman (Lolly). My heart goes boom / Tore Madsen, Morten Henriksen (Charmed). Best friend / Toy-Box, Golden Child (Toy-Box). Mambo. No. 5 / Pérez Prado, Lou Bega (L. Bega). Mahna mahna / Piero Umiliani (Mr. Mo). Hard knock life : ghetto anthem / S. Carter ... et al. (Jay-Z). (Mucho mambo) sway / Gimbel, Ruiz (Shaft). All I really want / G. Boretti ... et al. (Kim Lucas). Unforgivable sinner / Lene Marlin Pedersen (L.M. Pedersen)
Universal: 541765-2

Nornoter (

The Norwegian National Bibliography of Printed Music—Nornoter—contains references to some 24,000 music scores published in Norway from 1981 to date. Although a retrospective conversion programme for music is still in its early planning stages, some sheet music dating back to 1850-60 has been included. While most of the scores are published in Norway, some scores by Norwegian composers or artists published abroad are included. The database contains search fields such as name of person or composer, word search, search by Dewey number, ISMN, issue or plate number. All the scores referred to can be found in the library’s collection. In addition, Nornoter offers location codes for some sixty Norwegian libraries with music collections.


[Da pacem, Domine]
Da pacem, Domine [musikktrykk] : for fløyte (obo), 2 trompeter, 2 tromboner, resitasjon, orgel og menighet / Sigvald Tveit. - Stavanger : Cantando , cop. 2002 - 1 partitur (14 s.) ; 30 cm. - Ed. C-0951 (Cantando instrumental). - (782.525)
Edisjonsnummer: C-0951. -
Norsk tekst

Further search in Nornoter:

Tveit, Sigvald

DDC: 782.525 - 782.525?

[NORMARC format]   [Location codes]

Sangindex (

The song index, with its more than 50,000 references to songs published in music scores and songbooks, is an increasingly popular service with both professional librarians and end users. Most of the material analysed dates from the early 1980s to present date, but older material is also added to a certain extent. Search facilities include words from title, first line of first verse and chorus, name of composer, author, collector, and translator. Further search linking to host documents in Nornoter is possible.


Title: Liebespredigt : Love-voices

First line: Was singet und sagt ihr mir : Sweet birdie, of What are you : Hva synger småfugler
Person/music: Kjerulf, Halfdan

Person/text: Rückert, Fr.; Marzials, T.

Collection: Full bibliographic description from the NORNOTER database

Kjerulf, Halfdan, 1815-1868

[Sanger. Utvalg. Engelsk & tysk]
Halfdan Kjerulf's album of songs [musikktrykk] / translation by T. Marzials. - London : Lucas , [19-?] - 1 partitur (82 s.) ; 27 cm. - Ed. S.L.W.& Co.1811 (783.25542)
Platenummer: S.L.W.& Co.1811. - Ukomplett

Samnoter (

The Norwegian Union Catalogue of Printed Music—Samnoter—was established in 1990 and contains approximately 170,000 music scores found in some sixty Norwegian libraries with music collections. The database contains sheet music published in Norway or abroad located in member institutions such as the National Library of Norway, university and college libraries, the music conservatories and some larger public libraries. The bulk of the material is published after 1960 though there is no restriction as to date of publication. The search fields are identical to those described under Nornoter, but one should bear in mind that in a union catalogue the data is not 100% consistent and duplication may occur.


In this paper I have sought to give a brief overview of the bibliographic situation pertaining to music material. I have concentrated on a few, but important databases for librarians as well as for researchers and end users. Music material is of course included in many of our catalogues, bibliographies and databases. On the other hand we have not yet been able to present all our catalogues on the Internet. Quite a few of our collections, are in a bibliographic context, hidden treasures, accessible to the public only via an intermediary. The two divisions have  today some overlapping functions, and bibliographic data is duplicated to some extent. We hope that the organizational changes that will take place in the near future, supplemented by the forthcoming bibliographic plan, will further streamline the bibliographic work and offer even better services to our users.


* Unni Knutsen has been a librarian since 1980, and has worked in both public and academic libraries. She has devoted most of her career to bibliographic issues. Thus she has been Head of the Bibliographic Services Department of the University of Oslo Library (now National Library of Norway, Oslo Division) since 1998.  Her work there includes having administrative responsibility for the Norwegian National Bibliography, the Norwegian Union Catalogue, retrospective and current cataloguing, development and publication of bibliographic services, standards, and tools for the library community in Norway. She is currently serving her second period on the Bibliographic Section of IFLA.

(1) See the article by Trond Valberg elsewhere in this issue.

(2) See the article by Jorid Nordal Baumann and Inger Johanne Christiansen elsewhere in this issue.



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