Saturday, 17 October 2009

British Library gets money for newspaper preservation

From the British Library:

£33m saves the World's Greatest Newspaper Collection for the Nation

The British Library has today received a commitment of £33m from the Government to preserve and make accessible the world's greatest newspaper collection.

The money was announced by the Prime Minister today as one of a number of capital projects for the cultural and creative industries.

The British Library collects a copy of every local, regional and national newspaper published in the UK, plus 250 international titles. This unparalleled newspaper collection is an unique resource of over 750 million pages and is used for research by 30,000 people - genealogists, local historians and researchers from the creative industries - every year. The collection is used as source material for countless new books, newspapers, television programmes, films, documentaries, academic papers, local history projects and family trees in the UK every year, making a vital contribution to the UK economy.

However the collection is currently housed in dilapidated conditions in Colindale in North London where 15% of the collection is already beyond use and 19% is in peril. The £33m investment will allow the collection to be moved to a state of the art storage facility in Yorkshire while allowing digital and microfilm access to the collection from the British Library's flagship building at St Pancras in London.

Dame Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive of the British Library, said, "We welcome the commitment to the £33m investment to preserve and make accessible the world's greatest newspaper collection. This project will secure the collection's future and benefit the whole nation. It has the full support of the newspaper industry.

"Our plans are already advanced with a number of key contractors already in place. We are 'shovel ready' and this commitment will allow us to start building in 2010."

The British Library's plans have the full support of the newspaper industry, as the collection provides a valuable - and often the only - resource for a newspaper industry as it restructures its business in the digital environment. The Library is in discussions with the industry on innovative ways of working to provide online access following the success of its C19th newspapers online resource which was launched in partnership with publishers Gale, part of Cengage Learning, earlier this year.

David Fordham, President of the Newspaper Society today welcomed the news:

"I have been visiting the Newspaper Library at Colindale today and I am delighted that the Government has agreed to fund the British Library in its plan to save the nation's historic newspaper collection.

"The collection is a most remarkable asset to the country and has in it an unrivalled richness and depth of interest to millions of people.

"I look forward to working with the British Library on their future plans for digitisation to ensure that this importance resource is made available to more and more people."

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