TThe British Library's Chief Executive, Dame Lynne Brindley, has announced a major new partnership between the Library and online publisher brightsolid
, owner of online brands including findmypast.co.uk and Friends Reunited. The ten-year agreement will deliver the most significant mass digitisation of newspapers the UK has ever seen: up to 40 million historic pages from the national newspaper collection will be digitised, making large parts of this unparalleled resource available online for the first time.
James Murdoch, Chairman and Chief Executive of News Corporation, Europe and Asia, attacked the British Library for its plans to create the digital archive.
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. This vast resource is held mainly in hard copy and microfilm, necessitating a trip to the north London site for people wishing to use the collection.
The partnership between the British Library and brightsolid
will enable the digitisation of a minimum of 4 million pages of newspapers over the first two years. Over the course of ten years, the agreement aims to deliver up to 40 million pages as the mass digitisation process becomes progressively more efficient and as in-copyright content is scanned following negotiation with rights holders.
Digitised material will include extensive coverage of local, regional and national press across three and a half centuries. It will focus on specific geographic areas, along with periods such as the census years between 1841 and 1911. Additional categories will be developed looking at key events and themes such as the Crimean War, the Boer War and the suffragette movement. The aim will be to build a critical mass of material for researchers - particularly in the fields of family history and genealogy.