Academic journal article Fontes Artis Musicae

Report from Oslo Public Library on the 22 July 2011 Oslo Bombing

Academic journal article Fontes Artis Musicae

Report from Oslo Public Library on the 22 July 2011 Oslo Bombing

Article excerpt

On July 22nd, I awoke in the United States, turned on my computer, and went to make myself a cup of coffee before perusing Norwegian newspapers online. My husband called from Norway while I was still in the kitchen: had I seen the news yet? A bomb had just gone off in the centre of Oslo, just 150 metres from my workplace--the Oslo Public Library. The blast was so strong that he had heard it at home, some kilometres away.

I went to my computer screen and quickly understood that this must have had an impact on the library. I spent the next half hour frantically trying to reach my colleagues. Not surprisingly, there were no working phone lines. Great was my relief when a text message ticked in from one colleague who assured me that though the building had been damaged and the blast had been a shock for everyone in the building, no one had been seriously injured. Later I learned that one of my colleagues in the Music Department was blown across the room by the blast, and another had a narrow escape from a small room with floor-to-ceiling windows that were shattered.

The scenes those of us on the outside saw from the government building in the city centre--where the blast killed eight and wounded many more--were quickly augmented by an even greater tragedy, when the same terrorist shot and killed dozens of youth at a summer camp on the island of Utoya in Tyrifjorden, Buskerud. The death toll there reached 69, with an additional 66 wounded.

As the country began to come to terms with what had happened, a period of intense activity began at the library. The first challenge was to contact the approximately 150 employees who work in the main library building, and who now were without a workplace. The damage sustained by the building coupled with an uncertainty about possible structural damage made it impossible to use the first few weeks; employees were therefore parcelled out to various branch libraries throughout the city. …

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