What you told us about Papers PastAugust 22nd, 2018
What do these 3 articles from Papers Past have in common? Well, 1,063 is the number of people who responded to our recent survey on Papers Past.
Thank you for completing the survey
Were you one of them? My thanks if you were. We’re grateful to everyone who completed the survey and who encouraged others to fill it out. It has provided us with a clear sense of what’s important to you, what you would like to see digitised, and where you think we should concentrate our efforts. There were also many suggestions about specific titles that you would like to see digitised, and we have recorded these in our giant ever-expanding register.
The most popular government publication (from the five we suggested) was the NZ Gazette, followed by the Provincial Gazettes.
A number of people suggested Hansard (the Parliamentary Debates) would be a good thing to digitise. In fact, these are already available online. Volumes from 1854 to 1987 are hosted on the HathiTrust Digital Library and you can find links to the more recent volumes on Parliament's Historical Hansard page.
The Police Gazettes
The Police Gazettes were also a popular suggestion – these were digitised by Archives NZ and are available via Archway, as well as Ancestry. We are hoping that these will also be available on Papers Past and full text searchable by July 2019. In the meantime, there is some helpful information on how to access them on Archives NZ’s Facebook page.
Magazines and journals
The most highly ranked magazine from the ten we listed was the Listener, followed by the School Journal, then the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly. The two agricultural journals, New Zealand Farmer and the Journal of Agriculture were also popular, fourth and fifth overall.
Journal of the Polynesian Society, NZ Journal of History, Broadsheet and Landfall
A number of other magazines were popular suggestions, such as the Journal of the Polynesian Society, Landfall, Mana Magazine and the NZ Journal of History.
Luckily the University of Auckland Library has already digitised the JPS in partnership with the Polynesian Society. They’ve also digitised the NZ Journal of History and also recently made Broadsheet available — go the University of Auckland Library Digital Services team! The first twenty years of Landfall have also recently gone online, courtesy of the Otago University Press.
Newspapers and copyright
It was very, very, very, very, clear (71% clear) that if we had to choose, we should focus on expanding the range of digitised newspapers. Many of the comments also expressed a wish for more papers to be digitised from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
While we would like to, we are constrained by the current copyright legislation, and it is surprising how long copyright can last. When looking at one title, I found a gentleman who’d been the owner and editor of a paper from 1915 to 1923, and continued working with his sons on it for many years. He died at 101 in 1971 and therefore his work will be in copyright until the end of 2021.
So at the moment, the end date for the newspapers section on Papers Past remains at 1950. You will have noticed, I hope, that the Otago Daily Times and the Evening Star are now digitised to 1942, and we will be doing more in the coming year – thank you Allied Press.
We’ve recently signed agreements with NZME, Stuff (aka Fairfax), the Gisborne Herald Company and National Media which will allow us to digitise more of their titles up to 1945 or 1950. It's been great being able to work with these companies to do this and you should start to see these come online over the next few years.
A number of you asked that we develop a way of correcting the OCR errors, “as Trove does”. Hopefully, you will all be pleased to hear that we are working on a pilot for this. Sometime over the next year, this should be ready for you to help test it.
Our last question was about you, our users. Nearly 50 percent of you primarily used Papers Past for family history, and over 30 percent of you were using it for professional or academic research.
We’re working out the digitisation plan for 2018–2019, and hope to be able to make this available soon. We’ll also be following up with the publishers of the titles you ranked highly, to see if they are interested in working with us.
In the meantime, keep emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org with suggestions for material you’d like to see digitised. We take your suggestions into account when we decide what to digitise, even if it might be some years before we’re able to act on them.