Every day, newspapers capture a snapshot in time. From major world events to local stories, they provide a unique record of history, opinions and ideas.
At the National Library of Scotland, our newspaper archive is a rich reflection of Scottish history from the 1600s to the present day. Comprising millions of newspapers – national titles, local papers, dailies and periodicals – this archive tells stories beyond the global headlines. They include the day-to-day stories of ordinary Scots often not found anywhere else.
These stories make our collection a valuable resource for local and national history. Newspapers are one of our most requested items. They are used by anyone wishing to connect to Scotland's past. People use them to research their family history. Authors take inspiration from real-life people and events. They help schoolchildren discover first-hand accounts of life in Scotland from before they were born. And visitors can reminisce over photographs of their town or village changing over time.
Our newspapers need urgent conservation
We need your help.
Newspapers are not designed to last and are printed on cheap newsprint paper, which degrades over time. Unlike books, they are intended to be read and thrown away.
The National Library of Scotland has been collecting newspapers since our foundation in 1925. But our newspapers date from earlier than this – we hold the earliest newspaper printed in Scotland from 1641. Many of these older newspapers came into our collection already in poor condition.
Our climate- and pH-controlled storage can only slow down the newspaper degradation process – it cannot stop it outright.
Our analysis has revealed that without urgent intervention, 65% of our newspapers – and the unique stories they contain – will be lost forever.
What can be done?
With your support, our conservators can carry out urgent repairs to our most damaged newspapers and prepare them to be digitised. This process involves:
- Removing each paper sheet from their historic bindings,
- Flattening and de-creasing,
- Mending tears and scratches and reattaching loose fragments, so they can be photographed in high quality to preserve their stories for the future.
This is time consuming and costly process, and we urgently need donations to make this vital work possible.
We don't have much time to Save Scotland's newspapers before they are lost – will you help us? Please donate now now if you can.