Scotland's historic newspapers preserved for the nation

A campaign to preserve Scotland's historic newspapers is being spearheaded by the National Library of Scotland. Already three million pages of Scottish newsprint have been microfilmed and saved for the nation. The Library is one of 10 regional groups participating in a UK-wide project to preserve around 1,700 local newspapers.

Over 60 per cent of the filming for Scotland has now been completed — 419 titles amounting to 6,193 reels of film. The finished project will add around 800 titles and 10,000 reels of microfilm to the Library's collection as well as complementing the holdings of local libraries across Scotland.

It means that the National Library of Scotland will have the most comprehensive archive of Scottish newspapers in the world, including some copies of newspapers previously held only by the British Library. This will offer the opportunity to access the content of titles that have not been read in Scotland since they were first published — some of which date back to the early 18th century.

In 2001 the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded a grant of £5 million to the NEWSPLAN 2000 Project to undertake nation-wide, large-scale microfilming to preserve local newspapers on 35mm archival-standard microfilm. Further funding is matched by the newspaper industry and libraries across the UK.

Many titles will be filmed from original newspapers already held by the National Library of Scotland. In addition, the Library announced that it will purchase a copy of all the Scottish newspaper titles to be filmed by the NEWSPLAN 2000 Project. This marks a significant financial commitment by the Library.

Martyn Wade, National Librarian, commented: 'This is a unique opportunity for the Library to acquire an extensive microfilm collection of historic local newspapers, allowing the originals to be preserved while offering access to anyone wishing to consult them. The NEWSPLAN microfilms, together with titles already held by the Library, will offer an unrivalled collection in Scotland.'

1 September 2004

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