The investigation, which relied on assistance of experts from the police’s special taskforce on child pornography, came after the library was reported last year for violating Sweden’s laws prohibiting the possession and distribution of child pornography.
The library, knows as Kungliga Biblioteket (‘The Royal Library’), has now asked for guidance from the government on how to proceed.
“We want to know if our librarians are breaking some law when they lend out material featuring child pornography,” library spokesperson Rickard Carlsson told Sveriges Television (SVT).
“One can also ask themselves if researchers should be allowed to view material like this in a reading room and who, in that case, can be considered a researcher.”
The existence of the National Library’s collection of child pornography emerged after a visit by the writer Valentin Bart in November 2008.
Bart, who spent a year working in a pornographic book shop in central Stockholm in the 1970s, told The Local that he wanted to see if the law which requires the library to archive a copy of everything printed in Sweden, also applied to child pornography.
He found that not only did the library hold large quantities of pornography, featuring children as young as 10-years-old, but gaining access was also quite simple.
“All I did was sign up to check out books and send a letter explaining my reasons for wanting to view the material. Anyone could have done the same thing,” Bart told The Local.
The collection at the library was built up in the years between 1971, when the possession, distribution and display of child pornography was legalized in Sweden, and 1980, when the law was repealed.
All of the library’s pornographic material has been placed off limits since last year while investigators sifted through the hundreds of magazines in order to determine which issues contained child pornography.
While the 21 magazines determined to contain child pornography will continue to be off limits pending a decision from the governmebnt, the library said in a statement that its collection of “regular” pornography should once again available for viewing sometime this autumn.