Six people who have helped correct millions of lines of text online in the National Library of Australia’s Newspaper Digitisation Program will be presented with special Australia Day awards tomorrow, Thursday 28 January, 2010.

The top text correctors, who have made the program’s Hall of Fame, Julie Hempenstall (Victoria), Maurie and Lyn Mulcahy (Queensland), Fay Walker (Queensland), John Hall (Victoria) and Ann Manley (NSW), will be presented with awards for their efforts during a special presentation in the National Library Theatre. They will also be treated to an exclusive viewing of some of the Library’s prized collection items and see a demonstration of the Library’s revolutionary new search engine, Trove.

The National Library’s newspaper digitisation program began two years ago, using Optical Character Recognition software to automatically convert old newspaper images into digital text. Although this is the latest technology, the small fonts and uneven printing of many of the newspaper pages made conversion difficult and not always accurate. Enter online users from all over Australia who were keen to help by correcting the text.

More than 5000 online users have corrected text – with the top correctors to be presented with the special awards. From a stay-at-home mum with a special interest in family history to a retired couple keen on shipping, the correctors have provided enormous assistance to the program, with some spending up to 45 hours a week correcting text.

Manager of the Australian Newspaper Service at the National Library, Rose Holley, said the correctors’ work was an invaluable service to the community.

‘Their contribution and dedication to this project is simply remarkable,’ Ms Holley said. ‘They have really gone the extra mile.’

The program, which is run in conjunction with state and territory libraries, digitises historic Australian newspapers from 1803 up to 1954 when copyright began. The digitised images and text are then made available to everyone via the Web. The millionth newspaper page went public on 14 December 2009, with that page, a 1901 edition of The Sydney Morning Herald, containing the 10 millionth article to be digitised. It is expected 40 million articles will be available via the program by June 2011.

The National Library received $1 million in 2008 from the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation to assist with the digitisation of out-of-copyright editions of The Sydney Morning Herald.

For more information about the National Library’s Australian Newspaper Digitisation program, go to: http://www.nla.gov.au/ndp

WHAT: Text correctors to receive Australia Day awards
WHEN: 9am, Thursday, 28 January 2010
WHERE: National Library of Australia Theatre, Lower Ground Floor

Media Contact:
Sally Hopman, Media Liaison Manager, National Library of Australia
02 6262 1704 or 0401 226 697 or shopman@nla.gov.au