brightsolid and The British Library have announced the launch of a website that will transform the way that people use historical newspapers to find out about the past.
The British Newspaper Archive website will offer access to up to 4 million fully searchable pages, featuring more than 200 newspaper titles from every part of the UK and Ireland. The newspapers - which mainly date from the 19th century, but which include runs dating back to the first half of the 18th century - cover every aspect of local, regional and national news.
The website offers a wealth of material for people researching family history, including family notices and announcements and obituaries, while the ability to search by keyword/s, location, date and newspaper title means that people can search across hundreds of thousands of pages at a time as they track down that elusive ancestor. Searching the website generates free preview snippets of results found but users wishing to download full articles and images can pay to do so with a range of payment options available, including pay-per-view access for 48 hours or 30 days and a subscription package for a year. The website is free to use in the British Library's reading rooms.
"The launch of the British Newspaper Archive website opens up the British Library's newspaper collection as never before," said Ed King, the British Library's Head of Newspapers. "Rather than having to view the items on-site at the Library, turning each page, people across the UK and around the world will be able to explore for themselves the gold-mine of stories and information contained in these pages - and the ability to search across millions of articles will yield results for each user, that might previously have been the work of weeks or months, in a matter of seconds and the click of a mouse."
The British Newspaper Archive is the result of a ten-year partnership between the British Library and brightsolid, announced in May 2010. Over the past 12 months, brightsolid's digitisation team, based at the British Library Newspaper Library at Colindale, has been digitising up to 8,000 pages of historic newspapers every working day. The project is expected to scan up to 40 million newspaper pages over the next ten years. The site also offers high quality A1 prints.
Welcoming the new website, Ed Vaizey MP, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, said: "The British Newspaper Archive is a rich and hugely exciting resource, packed with historical detail. It’s a great example of the public and private sectors collaborating to deliver something that neither party could have delivered by themselves. I searched for my own constituency of Wantage and within seconds had 42,000 results - an indication of the breadth and variety of material featured."
The launch and further expansion of the British Newspaper Archive website will help the British Library to fulfil its strategic goals of long-term preservation of and access to the national newspaper collection, including old London newspapers. The Library's newspaper strategy aims to secure the future of this unique resource by moving the hard-copy collections from the current building at Colindale to a purpose-built storage facility in Boston Spa, West Yorkshire. Access to the collection will be provided via microfilm and digital copies made available at the Library's main site at St Pancras.
Founded in 1995 brightsolid is one of the UK's pioneering internet companies and a leading online publishing and online technology business. It provides innovative online solutions to its customers, whether that is a FTSE100 company requiring absolute reliability and performance in their IT infrastructure or a consumer researching their family history from the comfort of their home.
Its two main operating businesses are:
- online publishing
- online technology
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