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Digital newspapers: the e-paper collection

Most newspaper publishers distribute not only printed editions but also digital versions of the same content featuring the same layout - so-called e-papers - for their subscribers to access via the Internet. The German National Library has been collecting these e-paper editions of daily newspapers since 2010.

The German National Library developed an automatic process in conjunction with a service provider, outermedia GmbH, in Berlin in order to handle the large amounts of data. This is now used to collect the editions of 1,193 daily newspapers from the publishers' servers, to convert them into PDF/A format which is suitable for long-term preservation, and to enter them into the German National Library's catalogue and archive systems. In January 2016 users were able to access roughly 1 million issues containing over 44 million pages online in the reading rooms. Approximately 30,000 new issues containing more than 1.2 million pages are added each month.

Once a stable workflow for the collection of e-papers had been established and objects of a high technical quality were available, filming of daily newspapers was dispensed with in 2011 in cases where e-papers could be collected which were identical to the printed originals. Accordingly, the German National Library was only filming 49 titles by the start of 2015, down from the original 447 papers. It collects and preserves the majority of the approximately 1,500 daily newspapers currently published in Germany - a gratifying result after 100 years of the German National Library collecting newspapers.

How does the collecting of e-paper editions affect users?

First and foremost, the range which can be accessed by users in Leipzig and Frankfurt am Main has improved significantly: they can now make searches in individual editions of e-papers or access them directly at the click of a mouse from the catalogue. The waiting period before an issue can be accessed has been significantly reduced in comparison to the microfilm version - from 3 to 4 months for filmed newspapers to one week for the digital versions.

The automatic collection of electronic editions, including all associated metadata, has considerably improved the indexing of daily newspapers. Previously, the existence of the microfilm in the catalogue was documented by just one data record per title. By contrast, there is one data record for each issue of the e-papers held by the German National Library. This indexes the main metadata such as title, date of issue, persistent identifier for quoting the electronic resource (URN), and number of pages. But above all it allows the document to be specifically searched for and accessed directly in the reading rooms of the German National Library.

This service is available to all users of the reading rooms; it cannot be offered to external users for copyright reasons. Nor is it possible for users to save an e-paper, or parts of it, in digital form and take it home - also for copyright reasons.

Search for e-papers in the catalogue of the German National Library

Last update: 16.11.2016

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