In 2023 the KB reached 1 in 3 of the Dutch population through its digital services. This was revealed in a study conducted by research consultancy Dialogic and shared in the annual report that the national library published on April 3rd The National Library of the Netherlands (KB) is responsible for the Digital Library for Dutch Literature (,, the online Library, the Youth Library and apps that stimulate reading among young people, such as LEES. The DBNL and Delpher in particular generated a lot of visits. The sites were visited 7.2 million and over 3 million times, respectively, in 2023.  

As many as 75 percent of humanities scholars used one of the KB’s services in 2023. Delpher and the DBNL in particular were as popular as ever. The DBNL is a site on which digitised literary texts are made available, while Delpher shares digitised newspapers, books, magazines, journals and radio bulletins. These platforms are also popular among amateur researchers. For example, Delpher, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2023, reaches 5 percent of all the people in the Netherlands. DBNL reaches 9 percent of the population. 

“Anyone can do research at the KB. Researchers, of course, who can provide new scientific breakthroughs. And also anyone who wants to develop personally or professionally, or who wants to form an opinion. That is why we are delighted that these platforms managed to reach so many people in 2023, reinforcing the connection between research and society.”  

Lily Knibbeler, Director General of the KB

More members for online Library

The online Library, another popular service offered by the KB, welcomed a large number of new members last year. The number of members grew from 524,000 in 2022 to over 608,000 in 2023, an increase of 16 percent. Between them, they borrowed almost 5.5 million e-books and 2.3 million audiobooks. The year before, these figures were 5.3 million and over 2 million, respectively. Of the 115,000 new members, 46 percent were 18 years of age or younger. This is attributable partly to the ‘Holiday Reading’ (Vakantielezen) campaign, specifically aimed at encouraging children to read.  

Growth in collections

Besides digital services, the KB’s physical services and collections were also widely used in The Hague. In 2023, the KB welcomed 45,918 visitors who consulted the ever-growing collection in the reading room or attended public events. KB staff continued to work hard behind the scenes on the growth of both the physical and digital collections.  

The physical collection grew by 387 metres to a total of 121 kilometres of bookshelves. The digital collection grew to 7,898,318 items in 2023. Knibbeler: “Part of this collection growth included over a thousand newly archived websites and 5.5 million digitised pages. This mass digitisation is done to permanently preserve our paper heritage and make it available to as many people as possible.” 


According to Knibbeler, there are also caveats to all these positive results: “We are very proud of what we have achieved in 2023, but we also see major challenges. For example, before our collection can be moved to the new book repository, a lot has to be done to keep our current premises safe for the collections we continue to store there for the time being.  

In addition, we face huge challenges with regard to the digital society: the growth of the digital collection is far greater than the financial resources we have available for it. There is a lot of work to be done in the years to come, for all involved, in order to acquire, manage and preserve the increasing “memory of the Netherlands” for the future."