ICON Database

The ICON Database (http://icon.crl.edu) is the most comprehensive source of information about significant newspaper collections in print, digital and micro formats. The database is designed to inform library decisions on the development, management and preservation of collections.  

First launched in 2002, the ICON Database incorporated bibliographic description and holdings information for more than 25,000 newspapers published outside of the United States. In 2013, ICON expanded the database to include titles published in the U.S., and to incorporate holdings information for digitized newspapers.

Scope and Coverage

ICON adopts the definitioin of  "newspapers" applied by the Library of Congress in its collections policy statement for newspapers:

a newspaper is defined as a serial publication which is mainly designed to be a primary source of written information on current events, either local, national, or international in scope. Newspapers contain a broad range of news on all subjects and activities and are not limited to any specific subject matter. They are intended either for the general public or for a particular ethnic, cultural, or national group. Print newspapers usually appear without a cover, with masthead, and are normally larger than 12 x 17 inches (297mm x 420mm). Individual issues are listed chronologically or numerically and usually appear at least once a week.

Records are updated periodically, as resources allow, to add new titles and changes in  holdings. CRL makes no claims or warrant as to the comprehensiveness and completeness of the ICON database and ICON data.  

Intended Audience and Stakeholders

The database is designed to inform decision-making by publishers and by librarians at academic, public and independent research libraries. The primary intended audience consists of collection development and electronic resource librarians, reference specialists, and preservation librarians. It also includes those involved in planning newspaper digitization projects.

  • For subject specialists and reference librarians, the aggregation of detailed, authoritative bibliographic and descriptive information facilitates the discovery of news resources.
  • For collection development and interlibrary loan librarians, holdings metadata  allows users to more easily locate where newspaper titles appear in various formats: print collections, published and non-commercial microfilm sets, and electronic newspaper databases; and to measure the extent and completeness of those holdings.
  • For electronic resource and acquisition librarians, as well as newspaper digitization coordinators, the availability of granular holdings metadata extracted from commercial and open-access collections of digitized newspapers enables users to reduce the risk -- and cost -- of redundant duplication.   
  • For preservation and collection management librarians, the directory helps determine what is commonly held, reformatted in microform or digital, and held in print repositories. This will ensure more informed preservation and retention decisions, and thus help prevent the inadvertent loss of rare and uncommon collection materials.



The ICON Database is freely available on the web, at http://icon.crl.edu.

Statement of Copyright

The ICON Database was created in part using public funds and is a freely available resource, although information in individual records may be owned and protected by other institutions or individuals. The database and information therein may be used, reproduced, or distributed solely for educational, library or other non-commercial purposes, provided that any reproduction of data is accompanied by an acknowledgement of ICON and the database website as the source. 


ICON and the Center for Research Libraries cannot guarantee the accuracy of data contained in the ICON database. CRL and ICON assume no responsibility for any discrepancy that may occur in the electronic manipulation of said data.