Email
Password
Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageDigitalization of journalism into a research hub Special

By Tim Sandle     Sep 23, 2017 in Technology
London - The British Library is the repository of newspapers dating back to the 1600s together with a growing collection of radio, television and web news. Most of the content is now available digitally, providing an indispensable journalistic resource.
The British Library is the U.K.'s home to the national collection of all things news related, and its recent transition to a near fully digital process makes its Newsroom a useful research hub for journalists and academics. The resources begin with newspapers published during the seventeenth century and they extend to a variety of newspapers published on the day of any given visit. The vast majority of the collection has been digitalized or photographed into microfilm.
An information screen displaying the newsroom concept to visitors.
An information screen displaying the newsroom concept to visitors.
The Newsroom collection boasts 34,000 different news titles, from both the U.K. and other countries, totaling over 60 million different issues of newspapers and news periodicals. Newspaper are a mix of both national titles and regional publications.
Inside the Newsroom  on the wall as classic newspaper front pages.
Inside the Newsroom, on the wall as classic newspaper front pages.
The collection does not stand still; each day the collection grows by around 1,500 issues. The collection dates back to 1603 when The Burney Collection was established, in order to keep a copy of the earliest newspapers printed in Britain. Since 1869, by law, each publisher of a newspaper has been required to submit a copy of each issue to the British Library.
Accessing the British Library s newspaper collection through a series of guides.
Accessing the British Library's newspaper collection through a series of guides.
Accessing newspapers in print form from the library can be a tedious task, as this journalist can testify when he needed to spend an extensive time researching newspapers ten years ago. Today the task is relatively fast and considerably easier. To test out the efficiency, the digital and microfilm approaches were undertaken.
A large screen displays rolling news from around the world; readers can obtain a contrast between li...
A large screen displays rolling news from around the world; readers can obtain a contrast between live news feeds and the historic collection.
For digital access all a budding researcher or seasoned journalist needs to do, on entering the British Library's Newsroom, is to log on to an exploratory screen and enter search terms. Searches can be 'simple', such as keying in things like titles, keywords or publishers; or more complex, adding phrases and exclusion terms (much like any database). Through this articles from The Guardian about the first launch of the space shuttle were easily accessed (which was this journalist's topic of the hour).
A sign for the Newsroom and the way through to the valuable resources.
A sign for the Newsroom and the way through to the valuable resources.
Microfilm access was also relatively easy. Major publications are available at hand; more obscure titles or older newspapers need to be collected from storage areas by staff. To put the microflilm to the test, copies of The Times from 1974 to view the first of the U.K. General Elections held that year (which resulted in a minority Labour Party government) were easily accessed.
Making copies using printers is also straightforward (through self-service machines), although there are limitations regarding the amount of material that can be printed and the numbers of copies, in relation to U.K. copyright law. Some of the very old newspapers are notable to be copied due to their fragility.
The Newsroom itself is an airy, spacious environment, consisting of a breakout area:
The  breakout  area located alongside the Newsroom at the British Library in London.
The 'breakout' area located alongside the Newsroom at the British Library in London.
And the main reading room itself:
People at the microfilm desks at the British Library Newsroom.
People at the microfilm desks at the British Library Newsroom.
The Newsroom is connected to the business reading rooms, which are located downstairs (and the Newsroom is conveniently across the floor from the Science reading room which is where this journalist is more often found whenever a book project beckons).
Close to the Newsroom  the main part of the British Library concourse.
Close to the Newsroom, the main part of the British Library concourse.
In addition to newspapers, the Newsroom holds a range of television and radio broadcast recordings. These only date from 2010, and there are 40,000 different programs available. These have been taken across twenty-six different channels, including leading networks like BBC, CNN and Al-Jazeera. For those searching for websites, including any that have been taken down, the Legal Deposit UK Web Archive includes millions of websites obtained through the British Library's annual archiving of the entire UK domain, which was initiated in 2013. All told the Newsroom is treasury of journalistic information.
More about Newsroom, Journalism, Journalist, British library
More news from
Latest News
Top News