Dry As Dust

A Fortean in the Archives

More digital newspapers

It's been a while since I last wrote on the subject of newspaper digitisation, and there have been a couple of important developments recently that are well worth mentioning. Probably the most significant has been the end of The Times archive's exclusive arrangement with Gale, which had kept the paper irritatingly unavailable to private users for quite a few years. The Thunderer – like the New York Times, which called a halt to its own similarly restrictive arrangement with ProQuest some time ago – now markets its own archive over the net to anyone willing to pay for access, and the cost is pretty affordable, particularly if you plan ahead: it comes in at £4.95 for a day pass, £14.95 for a month, or £75 for a year's access. This compares favourably to the £7.95 a day charge levied by the rival Guardian and Observer archive. Better still, the day pass offer is a genuine one, giving free access to as much Times content as you can cope with in 24 hours. In this it differs appreciably from those sold by most American papers, which often limit the number of articles you can access with a day pass to as few as five.

Also worth noting are two other relatively new British national newspaper databases: those of the Daily Mirror (1903-date) and the Daily and Sunday Express titles and their stablemate the Daily Star (2000-date). These are now marketed together by UKPressOnline at a rate of £5 for 48 hours' use, rising to a rather steep £295 for full annual access.

Finally, I noticed the appearance of another new national digital archive while browsing at the British Library today: the Irish Newspaper Archives project, which covers a period from the 1700s to date, with about 20 titles digitised so far and a heavy preponderance towards very recent archives. Those more interested in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are catered for, nonetheless, with the addition of the likes of Freeman's Journal, for many decades the most important Dublin paper. The INA site says the archives are available to private customers, but gives few details and no pricing; putative users are invited to email sales@irishnewspaperarchives.com to discuss "a range of affordable packages." In the meantime, the archive is freely available to users of the BL and, no doubt, other large academic libraries, too.

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