The IFLA International Newspaper Conference recently took place in Delhi, India, from Friday 26th to Sunday 28th February 2010. The Conference attracted a wide variety of participants locally from India and internationally. The National Libraries of France, Finland, Australia, Singapore and India were represented as well as the Royal Library of Sweden. The British Library and the Library of Congress Newspaper sections were also represented. DISA was invited to present a paper on the state of newspaper digitisation in South Africa.


Frederick Zarndt

Lighting the lamp                                           Frederick Zarndt talking about born digital newspapers

The country reports on completed and ongoing newspaper digitisation made interesting listening as each National Library reported that millions of pages of newspapers from their holdings have been digitised in mass digitisation projects. The National Library of Australia has had some interesting outcomes from online user participation in Optical Character Recognition (OCR) correction with users having corrected millions of lines of digitised newspaper OCR in smart competition to outdo each other! The National Library of Finland has embarked on an ambitious project to digitise all their newspapers by 2022 at the latest. The British Government, in November 2009, confirmed a commitment of £33 million to fund the British Library’s Newspaper Strategy of extensive, new, state of the art storage buildings, digitisation and preservation of a legacy of microfilms. The National Library in Singapore have seen a huge increase in the use of their newspaper collection from 3,300 microfilm users per day to over 81,600 page views within 6 months of making digitised newspapers available online.

Representatives from local Indian media and libraries spoke on topics ranging from open access models, improved access, reading habits, news-clippings services and archiving issues

Two issues at the forefront of discussions were 1. negotiations with newspaper publishers around copyright issues and 2. whether to microfilm or not to microfilm as a preservation strategy.

Frederick Zarndt, Chair, IFLA Newspapers Section, gave a very interesting presentation on born digital newspapers, which, he was at pains to point out, was not the same as e-newspapers, but the orginal digital files produced by the newspaper publisher.

Brian Hole from Life3 Project, a collaborative project of the British Library and University College London (UCL), with funds from JISC, reported on the development of a tool for calculating preservation costs which will enable researchers, project managers, librarians, academics and funders to predict the long-term preservation costs of their data. The tool will be made available for the public domain.

Newspapers are an important source of memory of social history and culture. National libraries around the world are well into digitisation projects and programmes to digitise and make available their national newspapers. Digitisation as a part of a preservation and access strategy is now well accepted. Physical newspaper deterioration and indeed microfilm deterioration is well documented.Copyright negotiations for digitisation of historic newspapers not yet in the public domain is a challenge. However, a national collaborative programme with funding  for digitisation of South African newspapers already in the public domain is urgently required.

One Response to “IFLA International Newspaper Conference”

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