Endless rows of books, from old classics to unknown travel guides. All can be found at the KB National Library, which preserves these books just like newspapers and magazines. This is how they archive them for the generations of the future. Our website and the book ESTRANGED are also now archived there. So we visited to see what makes the KB so unique.
What the KB | National Library does
Over 120 kilometres of dissertations, books, newspapers, maps and journals, among others, all archived and stored. And then there is the entire digitised and born digital collection. The aim of the KB is to collect and preserve all this written heritage in order to be able to look back at the past. The KB was founded in 1798 with the aim of making publications in and about the Netherlands available to the entire population. The KB connects people with words to contribute to a smarter, more capable and creative Netherlands.
Almost all other National Libraries in Europe require publishers or the authors of books to submit one or more copies. In the Netherlands, you can choose whether you want to contribute a book to the KB. This applies to all types of books, with or without an ISBN number. However, when you apply for an ISBN number for your book, you will automatically receive an e-mail from the KB asking if you would like to submit a copy of your work.
Besides physical books and other media, such as newspapers and magazines, that can be submitted, the KB is also busy digitising its collection and collecting digitally. In 2000, the KB started digitising the archive. Since then, it has also preferred to store the digital versions of books and other documents. This has the advantage of making archiving easier, but it also saves a lot of physical space. Furthermore, it makes publications easier to search for researchers and users.
An employee of KB National Library is cleaning the books.
Presenting our book at the KB | National Library
We got in touch with the KB last year because the library asked if our website could be included in its web archive. In October, we were in contact again after we thus received the automated e-mail from the KB. After all, we had requested an ISBN for our book ESTRANGED. Our curiosity was piqued and so we asked if we could offer our book in person.
At the beginning of February, the time had come. The book ESTRANGED left Almere for its place in the KB collection. The books delivered to the KB are sorted at the depot. There, the KB makes a description of the book and considers how it will be archived. It is indicated how many pages the book consists of, how big it is, what it is about and how big the print run is. In our case, ESTRANGED consists of an edition of 500 and therefore it is included in the "special collections". This means that the book will not go on loan, but will only be available for perusal at the KB.
How long does a book remain at the KB | National Library
Every year, the KB receives many publications and documents to be archived there. Unfortunately, the current location at Prins Willem Alexanderhof (next to The Hague Central Station) no longer meets the quality requirements for safe storage conditions. Therefore, a new, almost fully automated depot with a robotic installation will be built in Midden-Delfland in the coming years. There, publications will then be stored in a low-oxygen environment, allowing for more sustainable storage.
The KB expects the big move to take place from 2026 onwards. In the run-up to that, all books are currently being cleaned. To get this operation done, staff members in white dust coats with long vacuum hoses are now working in the depot. Per half-day, they clean about 14 metres of books
Offering your work to the KB | National Library
Offering your work to the KB also has an advantage for your copyright. This is especially useful for digital documents, because by submitting your work it is immediately clear that you are the author. Should someone later copy or steal your work, you can easily prove that you are the author who first wrote the text. This avoids further hassle later to prove your copyright.