Detailed information on the contents of major commercial databases is notoriously hard to come by, making it difficult for libraries to assess the value and comprehensiveness of such resources. Gale, a division of Cengage Learning, recently agreed to provide CRL with title and issue records for content in the digital newspaper collections available through the Gale NewsVault platform. This metadata is now available in CRL’s International Coalition on Newspapers (ICON) database. ICON now includes more than 2,700 title records from 20 Gale digital collections featuring historic news publications from the United Kingdom and the United States. Gale is the first commercial publisher to permit its complete holdings metadata to be exposed through ICON for library assessment.
Gale products include17th & 18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers, 19th Century British Library Newspapers, and complete historical compendia of notable British titles such as The Times, The Daily Mail, and the Financial Times Historical Archive. Gale NewsVault also includes 747 U.S. titles provided in the 19th Century U.S. Newspapers collection. Taken together, the 20 distinct Gale products included in ICON represent more than 1.6 million issues of digitized newspaper content.
Granular information on the Gale historic newspaper collections can be retrieved through the ICON interface, allowing in-depth exploration of the coverage of titles provide in Gale’s products. Users can locate Gale’s holdings in ICON through several means: browsing the complete list of publications held by Gale, browsing the titles held in a particular collection, or conducting a search query using keywords or advanced settings for more detailed search parameters.
The ICON database was created to inform library decision-making and collection development. By exposing title and issue-level information about the contents of electronic databases, ICON reveals what content has been digitized, how complete that content is, and where the originals digitized are held. With this data, libraries are able to make strategic decisions on purchases, investments, digitization, and retention of their own collections. As an additional measure, CRL is currently analyzing the metadata contributed by various digital publishers including Gale to identify overall strengths and existing gaps in digital collections. CRL will share these findings in future content assessment reports, detailing strengths of news databases in terms of geographic and chronological scope, depth of coverage over time, and level of uniqueness compared to other digital repositories.
CRL is actively working with other digital publishers to obtain title and issue-level metadata from holdings in various digital news collections.