Christmas arrived early for historians this week. On Tuesday morning, amid a blaze of publicity, the British Library unveiled the new home of its digitised newspaper collection – The British Newspaper Archive (BNA).
Developed in partnership with commercial publisher brightsolid, the BNA provides online access to hundreds of eighteenth, nineteenth and early-twentieth-century newspapers. It’s an ambitious, long-term project – more than 3 million pages have already been digitised and the library hopes to reach 40 million pages over the next decade. If the project is successful it’ll have important implications for both professional and amateur historians. In the next couple of years, the British Library intends to close its newspaper archive at Colindale and transfer its holdings to a remote storage facility in Boston Spa. Whilst hard copies of undigitised newspapers should still be accessible, it’s clear that the British Library wants more and more researchers to access its collections online. The BNA, in other words, is the shape of things to come – and it’s vitally important that the British Library gets it right.
The archive currently provides access to 170 newspapers. Many of these papers were available in the 19th Century British Library Newspapers database and have been transferred directly into […]