National Library of Sweden - Milestones

1483: The first book is printed in Sweden, Dialogus creaturarum moralizatus, an allegorical religious tract in Latin. The Royal Library owns two copies.

1500s: The book collections of the Royal House of Vasa constitute the foundation of the Royal  Library’s collections. The library is housed in the Royal Palace, Tre Kronor (Three Crowns). The first catalog of books in the royal collection is dated 1568.

1611: Johannes Bureus is appointed the first Royal Librarian.

1649: The Devil’s Bible (Codex Gigas) comes to the Royal Library as spoils of the Thirty Years’ War.

1661: A legal deposit law requires printers to send at least one copy of every publication to the Royal Library before it is distributed.

7 May 1697: Tre Kronor burns. Three fourths of the Royal Library’s collections are lost to the flames.

1768: The Royal Library is finally able to move into the new Royal Palace in Stockholm.

1871: The cornerstone for a new library building in Humlegården is laid. The legendary Gustaf Edvard Klemming (Head of the National Library 1865-1890) is the driving force behind the project.

1874-1882: August Strindberg serves as an assistant librarian.

9 November 1877: The Royal Library becomes an independent government agency and the National Library of Sweden.

2 January 1878: The National Library building in Humlegården is opened to the public. Architect: F. Gustaf A. Dahl.

1928: The east and west wings, designed by Axel Anderberg, are inaugurated.

1952/1953: The National Library is given charge of the country’s ongoing national bibliography.

1952-1976: The National Library also serves as a research library in the humanities and social sciences for the Stockholm University College (Stockholm University as of 1960).

1956-1976: The library is gradually reconstructed and extended. The first underground book depository is built. Architect: Carl Hampus Bergman.

1972: The national union catalog system Libris goes operational and is used for cooperative cataloging.

1979: The National Library begins microfilming all Swedish newspapers.

1988: Bibsam is established, then called the National Library Office for National Planning and Coordination. Mission: the coordination and development of information provision in the university system.

1992-1997: The most extensive reconstruction and extension of the National Library to date is carried out. Two underground stack buildings of 9 000 square meters each are contructed. Architects: BSK Arkitekter AB and Jan Henriksson Arkitektkontor.

1997: The World Wide Web harvesting project Kulturarw3 begins.

1997: Following a Government decision, Libris is made freely available online to the public.

1998: The first central licence agreements for the use of e-journals are negotiated by Bibsam on behalf of the Swedish universities.

1999: Regina, the National Library’s automated library system, goes operational.

15 January 2004: The Swedish Government Report SOU 2003:129, KB - ett nav i kunskapssamhället (The National Library – A Focal Point of the Knowledge Society) is presented.

1 January 2009: The National Archive of Recorded Sound and Moving Images is integrated with the organisation of the National Library. 

Last updated: 2009-01-22
Contact person: Peter Axelsson, e-mail:

National Library