Looking back and ahead

As the year comes to an end, it’s time to take a look back; and prepare for what’s to come.

With the war in Ukraine, 2022 has been a year that we will not leave behind us easily as it has an impact on all of us. Everyone is affected, some less, others more.

We asked CENL members what was the central theme of the year for their national library apart from this terrible experience. We wanted to learn what was positive, what negative? And looking ahead: What they see as the most important topic for their library in 2023 – besides the next CENL Annual general meeting in Paris…

Here are some of their answers:

Frank Scholze
Director General of German National Library

Claude D. Conter
Director General of the National Library of Luxembourg

The National Library of Luxembourg (BnL) dedicated the year 2022 to the implementation of the new library management system Alma for all members of Luxembourg’s library network bibnet.lu, which is overseen by the BnL. The BnL has also endeavored to increase its visibility both internally and externally through other improved, high performing tools, such as a revised website for its users and a new staff intranet solution. In 2023, the BnL will continue to improve its services for readers through the extension of its opening hours and the possibility to join the library online. The upcoming year will also be marked by the 225th anniversary of the National Library of Luxembourg, calling for a wide array of exciting activities.


Kimmo Tuominen
National Librarian, professor National Library of Finland

The year was challenging because of pandemic and the unfortunate war in Ukraine. We needed to upgrade contingency plans and continue contingency planning for preparing ourselves to different crisis scenarios (even to potential temporary power outages). We also noticed that international interest on Slavica, our Slavonic research library, rose. We continued to develop digital services and infrastructure for the libraries, archives, and museums. Our Finna services were popular, and many new organizations (especially museums) joined Finna. During the year, one of the most pressing questions was where the Library will be situated organizationally in the future: shall we continue as a separate institute of the University of Helsinki, or will we be part of a larger state agency? The question is not yet solved. The Library was involved in agile coaching project: over 80 of our workers were coached to use agile philosophies and development methods. In June, Mr. Kimmo Tuominen took over as the national librarian. Next year, we will develop, among other things, accessibility and searchability of our manuscript and ephemera collections. We would like to send season’s greetings to all the CENL colleagues!

Dr. Johanna Rachinger
Director General of the Austrian National Library

One of the highlights in 2022 was the opening of our new Centre for Information and Media Competence. This meant a significant step taken by the Austrian National Library towards becoming a ‘teaching library’. Five seminar rooms equipped with state-of-the-art technology were presented to the public for the first time within the framework of a three-day opening programme in October 2022. In the future, the Austrian National Library will be offering a wide spectrum of courses and workshops for the competent use of media and information in order to support users in their efficient handling of new media. The initiative envisages special collaborations with schools and universities.

Another of this year’s highlights was the opening of the exhibition on Ingeborg Bachmann to mark the 50th anniversary of her death in 2023. Bachmann ranks among Austria’s most important and fascinating female writers in recent history and has left a manifold literary oeuvre: poems from her early period, stories, novels and fragments of novels, as well as audio dramas and her journalistic work, the latter of which also identifies her as a critical witness to history. Since 1978 the Austrian National Library has been the keeper of her complete literary estate. The exhibition also traces her charismatic personality, which, to this day, has lost nothing of its allure.

In 2023 the Austrian National Library is going to start the implementation of its strategic goals for 2023–2027. The focus is, among other things, on a consistent user-centred orientation, an intensification of measures with regard to sustainability, the update of our collection strategy particularly as to online media, the continuation of object digitization, and a transparent copyright identification for all digitised media.

Tomas Foltyn
Director General of National Library of the Czech Republic

Damian Elsig
Director Swiss National Library

“Es war sicher positiv, dass die pandemiebedingten Einschränkungen im ersten Quartal des Jahres aufgehoben wurden: Der Publikumsbetrieb konnte wieder aufgenommen werden, die meisten Veranstaltungen und Ausstellungen konnten wieder durchgeführt werden, die Teilnahme an nationalen Arbeitssitzungen und internationalen Kongressen (u.a. CENL AGM im Juni in Ankara) war endlich wieder möglich. Vorfreudig hofften wir alle, den Krisenmodus bald verlassen zu können.

Dann kam der Angriffskrieg Russland gegen die Ukraine, der uns emotional belastete und hilflos machte. Ausserdem zeigten die Diskussionen über eine eventuell, durch den Krieg drohende Energieknappheit die Fragilität der digitalen, vernetzen Welt auf. Sind wir beispielsweise im Bereich der digitalen Langzeitarchivierung etwas zu kurzsichtig von einer permanenten, stabilen Stromversorgung ausgegangen?

Von 2023 erhoffen wir uns ein friedlicheres Umfeld: Möge die Welt weniger VUCA – volatil, unsicher, komplex und mehrdeutig – sein und die sorgenfreiere Zukunft besser planbar werden! Die konzeptionelle Entwicklung der zukünftigen NB, die im Kontext von Umbauprojekten erfolgen, wird in diesem Jahr ein Schwerpunkt sein: Welche Angebote soll die NB in welchen Räumen zur Verfügung stellen?”


“It was certainly positive that the pandemic-related restrictions were lifted in the first quarter of the year: Public operations could resume, most events and exhibitions could be held again, participation in national working meetings and international congresses (including CENL AGM in June in Ankara) was finally possible again. Anticipating, we all hoped to be able to leave the crisis mode soon.

Then came Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, which emotionally burdened us and made us helpless. In addition, the discussions about a possible energy shortage threatened by the war showed the fragility of the digital, networked world. Have we, for example, been a little too short-sighted in assuming a permanent, stable power supply in the area of digital long-term archiving?

From 2023, we hope for a more peaceful environment: may the world be less VUCA – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous – and the carefree future become easier to plan! The conceptual development of the future NL, which will take place in the context of rebuilding projects, will be a focus this year: What offerings should the NL provide and in what spaces?”

Janne Andresoo
Director General of Eesti Rahvusraamatukogu | National Library of Estonia

Laurence Engel
President of BnF

2022 witnessed the reopening of our Richelieu site, following 10 years of renovation works. Located at the heart of Paris, Richelieu has been home to BnF collections for 300 years, amounting to more than 22 Million items (manuscripts, maps, coins…) – another 20 Million being stored on the other side of the Seine river. Proposing a completely renewed cultural experience was a core element of this renovation, and the public at large is now able to access for free the exceptional Ovale reading room. A museum displaying treasuries from our collections, with 3 rotations per year, a garden and a café, contribute to rooting our National Library in Paris’ cultural and leisure landscape.

One of the many challenges ahead for 2023 is the implementation of legal deposit for born-digital content. Since 2021, it is compulsory for publishers to provide their digital products to the BnF, and the decree detailing the implementation of this law will follow next year. The BnF is preparing for this transition in terms of infrastructure and digital documents cataloguing projects. We are active on the international scene on this topic as a member of the IFLA working group and intend to lead a global survey at European scale.


Prof. dr. Renaldas Gudauskas
Director-General Lietuvos nacionalinė Martyno Mažvydo biblioteka / Martynas Mazvydas National Library of Lithuania

The unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine has made 2022 a year that has demanded focus and courage. In the face of aggression, the libraries of Europe have held steadfastly to the principles of democracy and humanity. We at the Martynas Mažvydas National Library have been trying to make this topic heard throughout the year.
We organized charitable events and initiatives of solidarity with Ukraine.

The year was also exceptional for the projects of national importance implemented by the National Library of Lithuania. We created a sustainable infrastructure for cultural content and digital services that will grant even more opportunities for our users.

Next year, we wish you wisdom and patience in deliberating important decisions and invite you to come to Vilnius to celebrate the 700th anniversary of Lithuania‘s capital.

Dragica Lompar
Director of National Library of Montenegro „Đurđe Crnojević“

The suffering of the Ukrainian people caused by Russian aggression marked the year of 2022. Apart from the expressed solidarity of the national libraries and support to the colleagues in Ukrainian libraries, National library of Montenegro “Đurđe Crnojević“ organized evening dedicated to the most important personalities of Ukrainian history, in cooperation with the Embassy of Ukraine to Montenegro.

In order to protect the funds, we initiated activities on the restoration of the original woodwork on the library buildings that have not been repaired since their construction. It is an extremely large undertaking considering that these are buildings that are cultural monuments, it will last two years and it’s financially estimated at 300,000 euros.

The Library made a decision to start work on the creation of a normative database of personal names, which was preceded by extensive training of librarians in Montenegro for all those who create records in the library-information system.

During the entire year, we’ve organized numerous trainings for work in various segments of library business, and electronic processing of posters has been initiated within Arts collection. We organized a large number of cultural events and exhibitions. We especially point out the exhibition of old tourist guides of Montenegro, which attracted the attention of competent tourist organizations, and a contract drafting for their digitization in cooperation with the National Tourism Organization is in progress.

The library has paid special attention to its visibility on social networks and dedicates its daily announcements to big world, European, and of course Montenegrin names from all fields of knowledge. In this way, we promote the information we have in our holdings, and at the same time we educate and motivate our followers to visit the Library and to search and use our funds themselves.

With the best wishes for the upcoming Christmas and New Year holidays to all colleagues in the world, with a call for peace and an end to the war in Ukraine, with an appeal for solidarity and humanity, many greetings from the librarians from the National Library of Montenegro and myself.

Ana Santos Aramburo
Director of the National Library of Spain

Over the year 2023, the National Library of Spain will face three major challenges.

Firstly, a new law on legal deposit, an innovative and modern law adapted to the current environment of the publishing world. Thanks to this new law, publishers will have to deposit the archive they use for printing, in addition to some other changes it also includes.

Secondly, a boost to the digital strategy, fundamentally in the reuse of data and digital content, but we are also going to work on guaranteeing digital preservation in the medium and long term.

And finally, a project to renovate the historic headquarters of the National Library building in the centre of Madrid, in order to open up new spaces for educational and cultural uses and allow greater accessibility to the public, which is what society is demanding of us today.

We therefore face the year 2023 full of hope, with great enthusiasm and, of course, trusting in a better future. Thank you very much.



A lo largo del año 2023, la Biblioteca Nacional de España se va a enfrentar a tres grandes retos.

En primer lugar, una nueva ley de depósito legal, una ley innovadora y moderna adaptada al entorno actual del mundo de la edición. Gracias a esta nueva ley, los editores van a tener que depositar el archivo que utilizan para la impresión, además de algunas otras novedades que también incluye.

En segundo lugar, un impulso a la estrategia digital, fundamentalmente en la reutilización de datos y contenidos digitales, pero también vamos a trabajar en garantizar la preservación digital a medio y largo plazo.

Y finalmente, un proyecto de renovación de la sede histórica del edificio la Biblioteca Nacional en el centro de Madrid, para poder abrir nuevos espacios para usos pedagógicos y culturales y permitir una mayor accesibilidad a la ciudadanía, que es lo que hoy nos está pidiendo la sociedad.

Afrontamos por lo tanto un año 2023 llenos de ilusión, con muchas ganas y desde luego confiando en un futuro mejor. Muchas gracias.

Dávid Rózsa
Director General of National Széchényi Library

The National Széchényi Library (OSZK) celebrated the 220th anniversary of its foundation at the end of November 2022. This event marks the year of the library, which has undergone a rich and decisive transformation, both physically and in terms of content. On the one hand, it has invested in infrastructure, with energy-saving solutions at several points; on the other, it has expanded and renewed the services of its own library departments and those of its affiliated departments.

After several smaller exhibitions, the first permanent exhibition of the institution was opened on the occasion of the jubilee, offering a kind of essence of the library’s vast collection to those who are interested.

After the outbreak of the war conflict, with the help of the staff of the Library Institute and the National Library of Foreign Languages, which are maintained by the library, we felt it was important to share with the Hungarian society the information which shows the role of the Ukrainian and Carpatho-Patriot Hungarian librarians during the war. Also, in line with this, the Library’s Digital Humanities Centre and Web Archive staff have been monitoring Hungarian-language websites in Transcarpathia since the beginning and publishing reports on the results.

Mid-March 2022, a fundraising campaign was launched among the staff, readers and local residents. Furthermore, the national library, together with the Móra Publishing House, the Nova Hvylja Association, the Petőfi Cultural Agency and the Alföldi Printing House, released 1,500 copies of the Ukrainian translation of the Hungarian folk tale collection Ribizli a világ végén [Ribizli at the End of the World], which have been distributed to refugee children with the help of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Human Capacities, government offices and various humanitarian organisations.

This year, the OSZK DBK created the first public Hungarian-language model of machine handwriting recognition, which is available to everyone within the Transkribus application. The model is based on the handwriting of a scribe’s correspondence from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, and currently recognises letters and punctuation marks written in the same period with an accuracy of more than 90%. In the future, new models will be created with other types of materials from different periods, and by building these into each other, a more and more general Hungarian language model will be created for the users.

Furthermore, a new innovation for 2022 is LibMate, which is an integrated library system developed and owned by the Hungarian National Library, able to cover all library workflows, from the assignment of international identification numbers to reader requests, complying with international standards.

The library has responded effectively to the difficulties caused by the energy emergency, rationalising the use of reading rooms and opening hours, while maintaining the highest standards of service and organisation. In addition to these changes, the OSZK also organises presentations and open days. It places great emphasis on the classical readership, researchers, academics, families and the youngest generation.

In the future, we will continue to renovate the building, strengthen our role as a community space, introduce new services and organise another major exhibition, among other things. In 2023, we aim to further expand and broaden our professional international library relations with new collaborations.

I wish all our dear CENL members a merry and peaceful Christmas! Thank you very much for your cooperation and support throughout the year!

Elena Pintilei
Director general of Biblioteca Naţională a Republicii Moldova