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New in newspapers: the NPLAN website.

What's new in newspapers? The National Library of Australia's redesigned National Plan for Australian Newspapers (NPLAN) website is. It signals the ways that Australian libraries are gently revolutionising their approach to newspapers.

NPLAN is a national project to collect, preserve and provide access to Australian newspapers. According to project manager Bobby Graham, the Library has created this website resource 'to provide users with a clear understanding of what NPLAN does and how people can become involved'.

The redesigned website now has, on each page, links to participating libraries: the state and territory libraries and the national libraries of Australia and New Zealand. Each of the Australian libraries is responsible for newspapers published within its jurisdiction, and has its own program for realising its NPLAN objectives.

The NPLAN website highlights the three strands of the NPLAN program: locating missing newspapers, preserving newspapers, and exploring newspaper content.

Locating missing newspapers

All are invited to join the search for some of Australia's unique missing papers. These include missing issues of papers already held by Australian libraries, as well as newspapers that are known of only because they are referred to in contemporaneous documents.

Preserving newspapers

While microfilm has been the traditional medium for preserving newspapers, and is still relied upon for providing long-term access, NPLAN partners are also interested in providing access to digitised versions of historical newspapers. Digitisation of newspaper content offers users distinct advantages--such as ease of access from remote locations and searchable text.

The National Library's Newspaper Digitisation Project is currently exploring standards and technologies to develop a national infrastructure that will support unmediated access to the content of digitised historical newspapers. Newspaper titles to be digitised over the next three years include a major metropolitan daily from each state and territory capital in Australia.

Exploring newspaper content

Exploring the rich heritage of preserved newspapers requires users to know the papers exist and how to access them. NPLAN partners are working towards improving the discoverability of all versions of Australian newspapers through the Libraries Australia website. This is being done through projects to standardise newspaper cataloguing across Australian libraries and to add newspaper records and holdings to the Australian National Bibliographic Database, which is available through Libraries Australia. When completed, these projects will make it easier and quicker for users to discover Australian newspapers across Australian libraries.

The archetypal 'newspaper man' featured on the homepage of the NPLAN website leads users to snippets from the National Library of Australia's newspaper archives from 100 years ago. For example, this month the death of the last of Ben Hall's gang in Cowra hospital, reported in the Goulburn Evening Penny Post a century ago, sits alongside a quirky account from the same paper of a man charged 'for furious driving through the town' while in a state of hypnosis.

Compiled by Allan Rice, Volunteer at the National Library, these snippets will tantalise the increasing number of users who are interested in looking at the Library's newspaper collections. Perhaps the popularity of these collections says something that newspaper librarians have always known: that newspapers provide one of the richest, most informative and entertaining sources for exploring history and understanding identity.

Hilary Berthon

Preservation Services
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Title Annotation:National Plan for Australian Newspapers
Author:Berthon, Hilary
Publication:National Library of Australia Gateways
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Dec 1, 2006
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