Information in English

The Library boat

Traditionally, the sea has been the main avenue of transport along the coast of Norway. The coast is made up of a multitude of islands and islets, with many remote places along the fjords.  Although communications are improving, with roads, tunnels and bridges being built, there are still quite a few communities most easily reached by boat. This is the case today, and it certainly was even more so when the idea of a sea borne library was conceived and pioneered by librarians in Hordaland.

With means provided by the national library authorities, the service started in September 1959. The 62 feet cutter Abdullah,- named after a cigarette brand, a reminiscence of its past in the tobacco trade – was hired and equipped for the purpose. It was an instant success, very well received everywhere. In one and a half month it visited 150 hamlets lending 7000 books.

Abdullah was too small to offer a cultural programme, so it was replaced by the Fjord Guide in 1962. Now an audience could see a film, enjoy a simple show or meet an author.

In 1963 the boat Epos was built specifically to serve as a floating mobile library and has since then been sailing as a library on the West coast of Norway.

Epos is 85 feet long and carries about 6.000 books. Apart from the library lounge, the boat is equipped with cabins and a dining/sitting-room for the crew. During the winter, the cargo is books. In summer, the boat is refurnished to serve the tourist trade.

In 1963, the service became a joint venture between three counties along the west coast, Hordaland, Sogn og Fjordane and Møre og Romsdal. Epos sails from September to April, the period being split into two tours. Each tour, lasting for 64 days, covers the three counties and the visits count about 150 small communities.