During the severe winters of the late 18th and early 19th century, the icebound Fleet was often forced into lengthy periods of inactivity, vicious epidemics swept through the kingdom and Karlskrona was ravaged by fire. All these factors contributed to stimulate the desire for reading and knowledge amongst those officers stationed in Karlskrona, and in 1815 a läsesällskap (eg reading society) was established. Although it was aimed at naval officers in general, it was particularly the younger officers that the founders had in mind. All the Society’s books now became available to members of the new läsesällskap.

It should be borne in mind that books were both expensive and difficult to obtain, so how then did the läsesällskap manage to acquire these much coveted volumes? From the very beginning donators were sought, and money was solicited to enable the purchase of works in the field of the naval sciences and maritime affairs in general. During this period it was quite common for Swedish officers to serve, or study, on foreign warships in order to gain professional experience and they were encouraged to send home reading matter that could be of benefit to the library. These circumstances are nicely reflected in the Society’s library, which now contains works dating from the 16th century up until the present day.