Digitisation UBedu

Happy birthday,!

One year ago today, was launched. is the NTNU University Library’s search system for digitised special collections materials and contains photographs, maps, manuscripts, letters and drawings, amongst other document types. How has the use been so far?

New content
During the system’s first 365 days, many historical photographs and documents have the seen the light of fibre optics. Thorvald Boeck’s collection of letters and autographs, the letters of the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters between 1760-1862, botanist Mikael H. Foslie correspondence with researchers around the world and zoologist Carl Dons’ photographs from research along the Norwegian coast, with which we are cooperating with the NTNU University Museum.

Because of the 100 year anniversary of the Trondheim student plays, UKErevyen, we’ve also made photographs taken in relation to the plays since 1917 available.

To provide an overview over larger collections like the examples above, a log of publication is now available at

Also, to see documents that have been recently made available, you can make a blank search. To do that, just leave the search field empty, and click search. The most recently published documents appear first.

The numbers
Since the official launch on October 3 2016, 46 879 people have visited They have performer 333 887 searches, downloaded 9744 images and stayed for 6 minutes and 31 seconds on average.

During the last few months, 100-200 people have visited every day.

The most often performed search term is “uniform”, possibly in part because we have a suggested search for it in the Anbefalt (Recommended) section on our front page. Also, our goal is that every image containing a person in a civilian or military uniform is tagged with the word “uniform”. This way we can reach all those who are interested or possibly have more information.

28 539 visitors used a computer, 11 540 visited us using their cell phones and 6697 people used their tablets.

Where do they come from?
There is a quite even distribution of which source our visitors come from. 19 259 enter the address directly, 14 661 have come from links on other websites, while 12 958 have found images and documents via search engines like Google. We expect the numbers to change a bit during the next year because search engine indexing came further in indexing our website this summer.

Links on Facebook have led the way 7011 times. 3111 visitors have come from our own university’s website.

We believe that we have much room for improvement in all categories. Apart from making more of our collection digitally available, we will work to enrich already published documents with more information, integrate more links in our university’s website, collaborate with encyclopaedias like Store Norske Leksikon and contribute to Wikipedia.

We also wish to provide better facilities for visitors to contribute with precise information and are working with our supplier. Especially interesting for us is to provide tools for geolocation and transcription of text.

What do you think?
If you have thoughts or opinions about, please leave a message in the comments section below or send us an email.

Manuscripts Pictures Private archives UBedu passes 20 000

A screen shot of the front page of
Front page of

Last year, was launched, a search and viewing service for our digitised special collections material. allows you to zoom in on photographs and documents and download files for further use.

This coming weekend the total number of visits will pass 20 000. Our visitors have performed 169 053 searches and spent an average time of 8 minutes and 13 seconds per visit.

A graph showing the number of visits to
Visits in 2017 so far

33% of our visitors have used mobile devices such as phones or tables. We’re continuing to further improve our website together with our supplier, Tind, to give our visitors a better experience both on mobile and desktop. During the first months of 2017, the viewing technology we’re using will be updated to adapt better on mobile.

Weekly more photographs and documents are published, and we receive new information and other feedback daily from our users via the comment section below each document. Unknown places are recognised, people are identified and mysteries are solved. One can comment as a guest without an account, or e.g. use ones Facebook account to send us comments.

We’d like to thank our users for visiting, we’re looking forward to continuing our cooperation.

A screen shot of how a document is displayed on
The place in this photograph was recently identified by a visitor of Click the image to see it up close.
Pictures UBedu

The Unidentified

Archival boxes with photographs on shelves in an archive
Photo archives in the Dora library. Photo: Nils Kristian Eikeland/NTNU UB (CC BY-SA 4.0)

There are approximately 1 million historical photographs in the library’s archives. Some of these have lived in an unchanged system since they were created some 100 years ago.

Perhaps they were given a reference number the day they were created, registered in a protocol with the portrayed’s names, date and location. Sometimes someone else has payed for the photographs, which means that an identification isn’t necessarily correct even if the name is written in the protocol. This can be distracting, but is nevertheless a clue as to who might be in the photograph.

Close-up of a handwritten protocol
Photographer Hilfling-Rasmussens customer protocol from 1912. Photo: Nils Kristian Eikeland/NTNU UB (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Other images come without information about whom or what. Perhaps they still have something in common that can lead us on the right path.

The archive of Børre Svendsen Lien and Marit Johannesdatter Kåsen, consisting of portraits from around the year 1900, where made available at the Ålen library in the 1980’s. This way, people in the local community could come by, have look, and give pieces of information about who could be in the photographs. Some had pictures on their walls of their relatives at home and could give information that way.

Schema with image details next to a photograph from around 1900
Identification work in Ålen in the 1980s. Photo: Nils Kristian Eikeland/NTNU UB (CC BY-SA 4.0)

If one doesn’t have any concrete details about photographs at all, there’s still hope.

Local knowledge is invaluable when it comes to identify where a photograph was taken. A retired colleague of mine grew up in Trondheim and work amongst other things with pictures of the city for decades. This way, one builds a strong ability to recognise various places in and around the city, even if areas have gone through large changes over the years.

Most people might not have worked with pictures professionally, but simply recognise places they’ve lived, visited or worked. Feedback from historical societies as well as individuals with good knowledge to certain areas help us a lot in our work.

Newspaper stand with boys standing outside holding newspapers
Newspaper stand at the east end of Bakke Bridge in Trondheim 1913. Photo: Hilfling-Rasmussen/NTNU UB, cropped photograph (CC BY-SA 4.0)

There are quite a few unidentified group portraits. Here, age, sexes, clothes, surroundings or familiar faces can be at help. Recognising one or more people in a photograph makes it easier to unravel the mystery.

The photograph below had no details, but the entrance in the background was recognised, and then some of the men in the group where identified. The photograph was taken outside former NTH outside Gamle Elektro (The Old Electro) at Gløshaugen in Trondheim. Because of some of the people in the group, we can narrow the date to between 1910-1917. NTH opened in 1910, and the 4th man from the left on 1st row, Jens Bache-Wiig, left in 1917. With a few pieces of information, the photograph becomes accessible to people interested in related subjects.

Men in suits posing outside a concrete building
Group portrait at former NTH, outside Gamle Elektro (Old Electro) at Gløshaugen. Photo: Hilfling-Rasmussen/NTNU UB (CC BY-SA 4.0)

A final example of how to find information about photographs that have no accompanying details is to look at the technical aspects.

The oldest photographs we have, e.g. daguerreotypes, often give som clues that allows us to narrow down the date and perhaps also identify the photographer. The European collaboration Daguerreobase allows us to register all technical details we can find, this way making it possible for researchers to find common features, perhaps with another photograph that has an identified creator.

These common features can be everything from props, distinctive packaging, the quality of the photograph itself or an imprint in the metal plate the image lies on.

We are very thankful for feedback and contributions. On October 3, we’re launching a new search engine for photographs and special collections material that allows anyone to comment and improve our details. Thanks for your help!


Three framed daguerreotype portraits with different framing
Three daguerreotypes from different daguerreotypists/photographers. 1. Photo: Unknown/NTNU UB. 2: Photo: Carl Neupert/NTNU UB. 3. Photo: Unknown, possibly Hans Krum/NTNU UB. (All: CC BY-SA 4.0)