Great Norwegian Encyclopedia

Store norske leksikon (Great Norwegian Encyclopedia[1]), abbreviated SNL, is a Norwegian language online encyclopedia.

Great Norwegian Encyclopedia (Store norske leksikon)

Disciplinenon-fiction, encyclopedia
PublisherGreat Norwegian Encyclopedia Association (Foreningen Store norske leksikon)
Published1978 (1978)–present

The online encyclopedia are among the most-read Norwegian published sites, with more than 2 million unique visitors per month.[2]

Paper editions 1978–2007

The SNL was created in 1978, when the two publishing houses Aschehoug and Gyldendal merged their encyclopedias and created the company Kunnskapsforlaget.[3]

Up until 1978 the two publishing houses of Aschehoug and Gyldendal, Norway's two largest, had published Aschehougs konversasjonsleksikon and Gyldendals konversasjonsleksikon, respectively. The respective first editions were published in 19071913 (Aschehoug) and 19331934 (Gyldendal).[4]

The slump in sales for paperbased encyclopedias around the turn of the 21st century hit Kunnskapsforlaget hard, but a fourth edition of the paper encyclopedia was secured by a grant of 10 million Norwegian kroner from the foundation Fritt Ord in 2003. The fourth edition consisted of 16 volumes, a total of 12,000 pages and 280,000 entries.[5]

List of paper editions

  • First edition, 1978-1981, 12 volumes. Chief editors Olaf Kortner, Preben Munthe, Egil Tveterås[6]
  • Second edition, 1986-1989, 15 volumes. Chief editors Olaf Kortner, Preben Munthe, Egil Tveterås.
  • Third edition, 1995-1998, 16 volumes. Chief editor Petter Henriksen.
  • Fourth edition, 2005-2007, 16 volumes. Chief editor Petter Henriksen.

Online encyclopedia

The online edition of SNL was launched in 2000, and had both private and institutional subscribers. The paywall was removed on 25 February 2009, and the online encyclopedia became free to use.[7]

On 12 March 2010, Kunnskapsforlaget announced that they would close the online encyclopedia because of lacklustre sales and failing revenue. It was also announced that the articles would not be given to the Wikimedia Foundation, with chief-editor Petter Henriksen stating that: "It is important that the people behind the articles remain visible".[8]

In 2011, the foundations Fritt Ord and Sparebankstiftelsen DNB acquired the encyclopedia, hired Anne Marit Godal as the new chief editor and established a new organisation, assisted by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters and Norwegian Non-Fiction Writers and Translators Association.[9] In 2014 the Great Norwegian Encyclopedia Association was established; the members of the association were all the Norwegian universities and other non profit organisations.[10] In 2016 Erik Bolstad became the new chief editor.[11]

As of 2019, the SNL has around 200,000 articles online, updated by approximately 800 affiliated academics. The SNL accepts contributions from users, but all changes to the articles are verified by a topic expert before publication.[12]


  1. About the Great Norwegian Encyclopedia (English)
  2. SNL annual report 2018 (Norwegian)
  3. Bakke, Sven Ove; Hobbelstad, Inger Merete; Kvalshaug, Vidar; Nilsen, Morten Ståle (2012). Norske klassikere. Bøker, filmer, musikk, radio og TV fra 1945 til i dag (in Norwegian). Oslo: Spartacus. p. 182. ISBN 978-82-430-0560-0.
  4. History of the Great Norwegian Encyclopedia (Norwegian)
  5. Kunnskapsforlages historie (Norwegian)
  6. National Library of Norway: Store norske leksikon, 1978 (Norwegian)
  7. Press release from Kunnskapsforlaget, 16.09.2008
  8. Computerworld Norway, 12.03.2010
  9. History of the Great Norwegian Encyclopedia (Norwegian)
  10. About the Great Norwegian Encyclopedia Association (Norwegian)
  11. I 15 år har Erik Bolstad utviklet nye tjenester i NRK. Nå skal han lede et leksikon (Norwegian)
  12. About the Great Norwegian Encyclopedia (Norwegian)
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