Wednesday, May 19, 2010

British Library to Digitise Old News

Forget wrapping up the fish and chips and coating them with salt and vinegar the British newspaper will survive for ever. The British Library has announced that it is to undertake the largest mass digitisation newsprint programme in the UK - a staggering 40m newspaper pages. Once digitised, the collection will then make them available online. Once scanned the news papers will be then moved to a purpose-built storage facility in West Yorkshire. The digitised versions will be available free to users at the British Library or online via a paid-for website.

The programme includes local, regional and national newspapers dating back to the early 1700s. The library is to initially focus on papers that document historical events in the 19th century, such as the Crimean War, the Boer War and the suffragette movement.

This isn’t the first time the newspapers have been preserved as the vast majority of the library's 750m pages of newspapers. Previously a microfilm programme was undertaken, but who outside the library, uses or even wants to use, a microfilm reader today?

The programme will take some 10 years and in clued both out of copyright and in-copyright material that has been negotiated with rights holders. The cost is not declared but will be well into the tens of millions with the storage facility alone costing a claimed 33 million.

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