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Study Icelandic / Libraries

Learning Icelandic helps you integrate into society and increases access to employment opportunities.

Most new residents in Iceland are entitled to support for funding Icelandic lessons, for example through labour union benefits, unemployment benefits or social benefits.

If you are not employed, please contact the social service or the Directorate of Labour to find out how you can sign up for Icelandic lessons.


Icelandic is the national language in Iceland and Icelanders pride themselves in preserving their language. It is closely related to the other Nordic languages.

The Nordic languages are made of two categories: North Germanic and Finno-Ugric. The North Germanic category of languages includes Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and Icelandic. The Finno-Ugric category includes only Finnish. Icelandic is the only one that closely resembles old Norse which was spoken by the Vikings.

Learning Icelandic

Learning Icelandic helps you integrate into society and increases access to employment opportunities. Most new residents in Iceland are entitled to support for funding Icelandic lessons. If you are employed, you may be able to get the cost for Icelandic courses reimbursed through your labour union benefits. You need to contact your labour union (ask your employer which labour union you belong to) and enquire about the process and requirements.

The Directorate of Labour provides free Icelandic language courses for foreign nationals who are receiving social services benefits or unemployment benefits as well as those with refugee status. If you are receiving benefits and you are interested in learning Icelandic language, please contact your social worker or the Directorate of Labour for information about the process and requirements.

Lifelong learning centres (adult education)

Adult education is offered by lifelong learning centres, unions, companies, associations, and others. Lifelong learning centres are operated in various locations in Iceland, offering wide variety of lifelong learning opportunities for adults. Their role is to strengthen the variety and quality of education and encourage general participation. All centres offer guidance for career development, training courses, Icelandic courses and assessment of previous education and working skills.

Kvasir is an association of lifelong learning centres. Click the map on the page to find out where the centres are and how to contact them.

Libraries & archives

Libraries are an affordable and sustainable method of accessing books in Icelandic and other languages. You can read more about libraries and archives here.

Everyone can have access to books and materials from public library collections with a library card. Libraries are run by the municipalities, and they often have additional services and programs for communities that are carried out in libraries. These include reading circles, book clubs, assistance with homework for students, and access to computers and printers.

Municipalities have websites for their local libraries and there you can find information regarding events, locations, opening hours and rules for how to acquire a library card, fees, and lending rules for materials.

Individuals who are blind or visually impaired can access audio books and Braille materials at the Library run by the Association of Blind and Visually Impaired People.

Most primary schools, secondary schools and universities have their own library which is intended for use by staff and students. Many institutions and companies also have a dedicated library for their employees.

The National and University Library

The National and University Library is a research library, the national library, and the library for the University of Iceland. The library is open to anyone aged 18 and older, as well as to children accompanied by an adult.

The National Archives

The National Archives and the district archive offices around the country store documents pertaining to the rights of the state, the municipalities, and the public. Anyone who requests it can be granted access to the archives. Exceptions include materials that pertain to public interest or the protection of personal and private information.

Learning Icelandic helps you integrate into society and increases access to employment opportunities.