British Library outsources digitalisation of historic newspapers

Up to 40m pages from the British Library national newspaper collection are to be digitalised in what’s claimed as the UK’s most significant mass digitalisation project.

Spanning three centuries, and including 52,000 local, regional, national, and international titles, the British Library holds one of the world’s finest collections of newspapers. Each year the Newspaper Library at Colindale is used by 30,000 researchers in subjects ranging from family history and genealogy to sports statistics, politics, and industrial history. This vast resource is held mainly in print versions and microfilm.

The 10-year partnership between the British Library and online business services firm Brightsolid will enable the digitalisation of a minimum of 4m pages of newspapers over the first two years. A subsidiary of Dundee-based publisher DC Thomson, Brightsolid was selected following an EU procurement process. The company has previously delivered the project in partnership with The National Archives (TNA), and owns family history websites and

Brightsolid is taking on the commercial and technical risks of the project, with no direct costs to the British Library, says the company’s chief executive Chris van der Kuyl: the digitalised content will be made available online via a paid-for website as well as integrating it into its family history websites.

This resource will be available for free to users on-site at the British Library; copies of all scanned materials will be deposited with the Library to be held in the national collection.

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