The closure of the British Library's Newspaper Library annex at Colindale has been confirmed. The good news is that only the method of access will change.
Known as Colindale to its friends, the British Library Newspaper Library opened in 1932. I haven't been going there quite that long, in fact I haven't been for some time, but during the 1990s especially I spent a lot of time there researching a plethora of subjects, some controversial, some not so, in UK and overseas newspapers alike.
Alas, after November no one will be going there anymore, at least not for the purpose of newspaper research, because the building will be closing as its collections are transferred to the British Library's massive storage facility at Boston Spa.
Details of the closure and the transfer of its holdings can be found on the British Library website.
Here are a couple of videos that explain what the Library has been doing to its newspaper archive over the past three years. The second gives a real perspective on this collection from your standpoint.
The screengrab below shows the HomePage of the British Newspaper Archive; you will see from the top of the screen that I am logged in.
It is free to use this service in the Library's St. Pancras reading rooms, as I did earlier this week, but unlike Tim Sandle and myself most people don't have this privilege. As will be seen from the above linked videos, this new archive was developed in collaboration with a private sector company that put up the entire capital for the project, so naturally it is entitled to a return on its investment. The good news is that the cost of using the Archive is not unreasonable, certainly a lot less than a plane ticket to London, although the price of accessing individual articles varies considerably.
The even better news is that worldwide there are similar vast archiving projects underway for newspapers and other documents. Currently the Internet Archive boasts 354 billion pages. The Library Of Congress has an impressive digital collection as does the Australian Trove database.
Although some people may lament the passing of the Newspaper Library, this is really another case of misplaced nostalgia. When researching there it was possible to order four titles in advance, but delivery times on site were not always what they should be, handling heavy and at times fragile newspaper volumes is not the most comfortable experience, it can also be dirty. Using microfilm can be equally challenging. Hopefully one day all on-line research will be free for anyone anywhere in the world to use. That day may be a long time in coming, but what we have so far is not to be sniffed at, so we should be thankful that we live in the age of the computer, and were not born at a time when access to any form of news or print was both extremely limited and frightfully expensive.