CRL and British Library To Digitize Foreign News

Monday, August 12, 2013
James Simon -

The British Library and the Center for Research Libraries have formed a pathbreaking partnership to digitize and make accessible historical news content from Africa, South Asia, and Latin America of interest to scholars at UK and North American universities. This partnership will dramatically expand and enrich the digitized collections in the World Newspaper Archive, an initiative by North American research libraries and Readex (a division of NewsBank) to preserve and provide persistent access to historical newspapers from around the globe.

Collected and preserved over three centuries of activity, the British Library’s newspaper collection represents an unparalleled archive of British and overseas newspapers, encompassing more than 750 million pages of local, regional, and national newspapers. CRL’s own collection of more than 15,000 U.S. and foreign newspapers represents the largest circulating collection of news resources worldwide. The combined resources of these two institutions constitute a body of historical and cultural evidence that is not, and could not be, replicated elsewhere.

The initial phase of the partnership will focus on newspapers published throughout Africa for the period 1798–1900. The British Library has extensive holdings of African newspapers, including many from the 19th century. The collections are strongest for South Africa and for former British colonies, but also feature material from Francophone and Lusophone Africa. Holdings are predominantly in English, but also include material in Afrikaans, Zulu, and other African languages.

Titles provided by the British Library will be supplemented by holdings from CRL and its member libraries, including the New York Public Library; Yale University; University of California, Berkeley; and others. When completed, the World Newspaper Archive module African Newspapers, Series 2 (1798-1922) will encompass more than 1.2 million pages from sub-Saharan Africa as well as from North African countries.

Newspapers from other world areas will be digitized over the next several years, including content from South Asia, Latin America, and potentially 19th- and early 20th-century newspapers published in London, Hong Kong, and China relating to commercial and political relations between East and West. The scope of the BL-CRL effort will eventually encompass up to 7 million pages of international news content, subject to the level of investment of the library community in support of this effort.

Content provided by the British Library through this partnership will be accessible at no charge on the premises of British Library within the United Kingdom.

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