25 September 2001
THE UK'S MOST FRAGILE LOCAL NEWSPAPERS SAVED FOR THE NATION
Over 1,600 of the UK's most fragile newspaper titles
will be saved for the nation by a grant of £5 million made
to the NEWSPLAN 2000 Project by the Heritage Lottery Fund. It is
the largest grant for preservation of part of the UK's historical
record ever made in the UK.
The NEWSPLAN 2000 Project is a unique partnership
between the Heritage Lottery Fund, the newspaper industry, and libraries
across all parts of the UK to save the text of the country's most
fragile and rare local newspapers.
The NEWSPLAN 2000 Project will preserve and improve
access to over 1,600 local newspaper titles in urgent peril from
deterioration in every part of the UK, from County Down to Cardiff,
from Glasgow to Cornwall, and from Cumbria to Kent, extending from
1780 to 1950. This massive task of preservation will involve the
microfilming of over 40,000 volumes of local newspapers preserving
21 million pages of text.
From the early 1830s onwards newspapers become fragile
because elements in the paper on which they are printed react with
the atmosphere causing acidification. This process is accelerated
when combined with heavy usage. Left in this condition, newspapers
will disintegrate and perish. To arrest this decline, the NEWSPLAN
2000 Project will preserve local newspapers on archival-quality
microfilm, the internationally-accepted preservation standard, which
has a life of at least 500 years.
The NEWSPLAN 2000 Project will also improve access
for the public to local newspapers across the whole of the UK by
making the microfilmed text available in local libraries in the
areas served by each newspaper, and by supplying libraries with
microfilm readers and reader-printers to improve access both for
existing users and for new users.
Dr Ann Matheson, Chairman of The NEWSPLAN 2000 Project,
warmly welcomed the decision of the Heritage Lottery Fund: ' This
is a marvellous day for local newspapers. Now, with the assistance
of the Heritage Lottery Fund and the UK newspaper industry, and
the efforts of libraries across the UK, we can be confident that
a priceless part of our history will be saved and will survive for
the use and enjoyment of all our citizens'.
The aims of this major endeavour have been supported
by the UK newspaper industry from the start. The President of the
Newspaper Society, Mr Edwin Boorman, said: 'We welcome the news
of this grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which will help to
safeguard this country's most fragile newspapers, many of which
are no longer published. They form a unique part of the nation's
heritage, which will now be protected for future generations'.
The Rt Hon. Baroness Blackstone, Minister of State for the Arts,
Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), said: 'Local newspapers
are an integral part of local history and culture, providing an
incomparable barometer of local opinion over past centuries. Often
they represent the first-person witnesses to important events. I
congratulate the Heritage Lottery Fund on making this grant to the
NEWSPLAN 2000 Project. The grant will save a vital part of our nation's
archives allowing historians, students and others access to these
documents while preserving them from further deterioration. This
Project will be an enormous undertaking but I am sure future generations
will benefit from being given the opportunity to study and enjoy
this invaluable resource'.
Ms Anthea Case, Director of the Heritage Lottery Fund,
said: 'The Heritage Lottery Fund is very excited about supporting
this flagship project to save a unique archive of national importance
for future generations. It will allow many more people to have access
to resources for learning about the history of their community.
By preserving local newspapers across the UK, this grant award helps
to fulfil the Heritage Lottery Fund's objective that every community
across the UK should benefit from its support'.