Repatriation of Australian Newspapers

It is estimated that over 7000 newspaper titles have been published in Australia. The poor quality paper used for newspapers quickly becomes brittle and, with their size and volume, means print newspapers are expensive to store, conserve and manage. These factors led to a collaboration established in the early 1990s by National, State and Territory libraries known as the Australian Newspaper Plan (ANPLAN).

ANPLAN ensures that one copy of every Australian newspaper is preserved and retained in the jurisdiction in which it was published. Each ANPLAN library keeps all titles published in its jurisdiction, including short-lived and local community newspapers. Under ANPLAN, the National Library retains and preserves print copies of national titles such as The Australian and Australian Financial Review and, with the ACT Heritage Library, all ACT papers including suburban weeklies.

In addition, to meet the needs of onsite users, the National Library is continuing to collect capital city dailies and significant regional papers, newspapers from surrounding areas in New South Wales, as well as ethnic community and subject based newspapers.

The National Library has recently commenced repatriating lower use regional newspaper titles to Australian State and Territory libraries. This redistribution will not lead to the loss from the national record of any title or individual issue – it is being done to ensure that the collections of record are comprehensive. Catalogue records for affected titles have been removed and print issues are no longer available for use at the National Library. For those titles which have been used more than ten times in the last seven years, print copies of repatriated titles are being replaced with microfilm.

National Library users will have access to most of the papers they have been accustomed to using, although local and community newspapers will not be collected in future.  These titles have been out of scope since 1999, as set out in the National Library’s published Collection Development Policy, and remain the responsibility of the relevant ANPLAN library.

For many years the ANPLAN libraries have been microfilming newspapers to ensure their longevity. The existence of a large corpus of microfilmed titles has enabled the mass digitisation of Australian newspapers now available nation-wide through Trove. The 12 million pages of newspapers in Trove were viewed 17 million times last year.   The National Library and its ANPLAN partners will continue to expand the range of historic newspapers available through Trove. 

All ANPLAN libraries are committed to retaining, preserving and making accessible all Australian newspapers.  This process of repatriation coupled with digitisation will ensure that all Australian newspaper titles will be preserved and made widely available through national cooperation.