The British Library holds in excess of 750 million pages of newspaper material dating back to the 17th Century. The Newspaper Digitisation Project has been designed to open up a significant portion of this vast resource, ensuring the preservation of this unique collection and providing the improved access to content demanded by users in the digital age.
The aim is to make at least 40 million pages of newspaper content available online over the next decade, enabling users to fully search content on subjects varying from broad topics such as the Crimean War, right down to local court reporting.
Spanning three centuries and including 52,000 local, regional, national and international titles, the British Library holds one of the world’s finest collections of newspapers. Each year the Newspaper Library at Colindale is used by 30,000 researchers in subjects ranging from family history and genealogy to sports statistics, politics and industrial history. This vast resource is held mainly in hard copy and microfilm, necessitating a trip to the north London site for people wishing to use the collection. The partnership will transform access to this vital part of the national memory.
Mass digitisation will unlock the riches of the newspaper collections by making them available online to users across the UK and around the world; by making these pages fully searchable we will transform a research process which previously relied on scrolling through page after page of microfilm or print.
As the British Library’s commercial partner brightsolid will select the content to be digitised, fund the digitisation of the content from scanning to the creation of the OCR and Metadata, and create the online services. Content will only be digitised where it is clearly out of copyright or in agreement with the publisher.
brightsolid’s strategy is to connect people and places. By linking up with the British Library, brightsolid will widen and grow its offering by giving and placing existing genealogical records into the appropriate historical context – something that is unavailable elsewhere today.
The project is a major programme for the British Library and will create a co-branded consumer website, an online service integrated into brightsolid’s family history websites, a set of niche information products, and a free at the point of use service in the British Library reading rooms. The consumer websites will be paid for using both pay-as-you-go and subscription models. The dedicated consumer site britishnewspaperarchives.co.uk will launch Autumn 2011 with 4.5 million pages.