IFLA Newspaper Conference: Hartmut Walravens - Berlin State Library

This is a report on the IFLA Newspaper Section and other worldwide newspaper programs, presented by Hartmut Walravens from the Berlin State Library. The IFLA Newspaper Section meets in 2006 in Seoul, and they will be discussing the archiving of the east Asian press.

Low-quality microfilming degrades quickly, and often requires re-filming of the source material after maybe twenty years. Furthermore, bad film really causes problems when it comes to digitization. IFLA has a publication talking about microfilming standards. (It really seems like poor filming choices made a generation ago are coming back to haunt our present digital efforts.)

There are several world-wide digitization projects going on around the world that aren’t represented at this conference:

  • The Deutsche Bibliothek project has digitized exiled serials, so-called because they were published by German refugees escaping from the Nazi regime in the mid-1900s. An interesting problem is that these papers aren’t really newspapers in the proper sense. Due to the lack of funds, their papers were often very short - in the example only one page.

  • The Compact Memory project is focused on Jewish serials, and is similar technically to the previous project.

  • The Austrian Newspapers Online (ANNO) project covers approximately 2 million pages currently. They are suffering from lack of funding presently. No full-text search, just date searching, and only the images are available.

  • The Luxemburgensia Online project had five papers digitized last year. This year, they now have ten papers on the net. Like ANNO, there is no full-text search, and only the images are available.

  • The National Library of Greece has about five titles digitized, including one from Egypt, with about 220,000 pages total. Again there is no full-text searching.

  • The National Library of Latvia has approximately 200,000 pages available online.

  • The University of Hawaii is working to digitize Hawaiian Language newspapers. There are at least fifteen digitized, but again there is no full-text searching. In this case, the image quality is so bad as to preclude perhaps ever doing OCR.

  • Japan is not doing much digitization at all, preferring to work on preservation microfilming for the time being.

  • Russia has a lot of newspapers, but there is no funding for performing any mass digitization. There is some equipment out there, but they only do so on-demand for a specific paid-for subset.

Finally, the technological gap between the rest of the world and the U.S. is highlighted by the fact that a Belgium paper has done a pilot of some e-paper in their publication. How long until the U.S. gets this?