Australian Newspaper digitization
Last week in one of the WAGS Forums, I posted details of several new Victorian newspaper titles which had been added to Trove.
The response from one of our members was but what about "The Mount Alexander Mail"!
What about it indeed...
There would be few among you who haven't heard of Trove, an initiative of the National Library of Australia and most would use it to access digitized Australian newspapers.
What may not be generally known is that many of the newspapers are digitised because they are sponsored by councils, organisations and state and regional libraries who pay for their digitisation and their translation into searchable text using OCR.
How much do they pay? The current rate is $2 per page which means one issue of a medium sized daily paper would cost around $100 to be made available on Trove.
A friend and former colleague Steve Howell who is the West Australian Subject Specialist at the State Library of WA provided me with the following along with his permission to reproduce it here on the WAGS website.
Becoming available soon on the National Library's Trove website (see http://trove.nla.gov.au) of the nation's digitized newspapers are the Southern Advertiser 1888 and the Coolgardie Miner 1911-1913, both of which were paid for by the Friends of Battye Library. Other titles which are in the process of being digitized are the Kalgoorlie Miner, the Daily News, the Eastern Districts Chronicle, the Westralian Worker, the Great Southern Herald, the Bunbury Herald/Express, the Norseman Times, the South Western News and the Pilbara Goldfields News.
Discussions are already under way for another ten newspaper titles to be put on the digitization schedule for next year.It may be of interest to understand the process by which titles are chosen. Since digitization is done from microfilm (the working negatives), it is important that the microfilm is of a good standard, so material which has been recently microfilmed (or re-microfilmed, if the original microfilm is not of a good standard) is preferred.
Another factor is the number of changes of title a newspaper has. In some cases a newspaper will change title five or six times over the course of its existence. In such cases the National Library counts each change of title as a separate title, so if we choose such a newspaper, it takes five or six of our allotted ten titles. We also try to give a reasonable spread of newspapers over as many areas and regions as we can.
So the preference is for long runs of recently microfilmed or re-microfilmed newspapers, which do not change title and which are representative newspapers of important towns and regions throughout the State.
You may also be wondering why the cut off date for digitization is 1954. This is because in 2005 a copyright agreement was reached between Australia and the USA. In Australia, in general, copyright exists for 50 years after death or publication, in the US it is 70 years. The agreement moved Australia to 70 years, so rather than increase the length of copyright for material which was already out of copyright under existing Australian law, a ruling was made that all newspapers published before 1 January 1955 were out of copyright. Thus under the new legislation 1955 newspapers do not come out of copyright until 2025, 1956 until 2026 and so on.
It's exciting to know that many of the important regional West Australian newspapers will be available soon...but what about "The Mount Alexander Mail"?
The following link provides a list of titles currently available: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/titles,
and here for what is planned for 2012-2013: http://www.nla.gov.au/content/new-titles-coming, but there's no indication that digitisation of "The Mount Alexander Mail" is imminent.
Information as to what might be done to get newspapers added to Trove is also included at the above link. Lobbying the Mount Alexander Council may help but at $2 a page, would they be willing to meet the cost of digitising a newspaper which ran for 63 years and which ceased publication almost 100 years ago?
So, what about the The Mount Alexander Mail"? Maybe next year... maybe...
Since this article was first published, our wish has come true, the newspaper has been digitised, go here: The Mount Alexander Mail on Trove
The Mount Alexander Mail was published in Castlemaine, Victoria between May 6, 1854 and Sept. 29, 1917.
Microfilm is available from the National Library of Australia and State Libraries throughout Australia, as well as other interested libraries.
The Rootsweb Mailing List "AUS-VIC-GOLDFIELDS" has a some interesting transcriptions from, and references to this newspaper, and is well worth a search.
Castlemaine Historical Society Inc. hold indexes for Births, Deaths, Marriages and Inquests for the period 1854-1913.
This article was first published in September 2012 by Julie Martin.