Newspaper image of two men.

Collaborative digitisation

The Collaborative Digitisation Programme adds more newspapers to Papers Past, using the combined resources of community groups around New Zealand. Every year, we invite applications for new additions. Find out how it works and how to apply.

What is the collaborative digitisation programme?

Every year we invite community groups to collaborate with us in adding more newspapers to Papers Past.

Papers Past

The 2019/2020 programme successful applicants

The successful applicants for the 2019 to 2020 collaborative digitisation programme are:

Applicant Newspaper
Dunedin Public Libraries Saturday Advertiser, Timetable and NZ Literary Miscellany (1875 to 1878)
Sonia Edwards Opotiki News (1938-1950)
Golden Bay Genealogy Group Marlborough Daily Times (1880 to 1888) and Marlborough Press (1860 to 1861; 1865 to 1869)
Hawera Genealogy Group Hawera Star (1925 to 1935)
Horowhenua District Council Manawatu Herald (1921 to 1939)
Manawatu District Libraries Feilding Star (1925 to 1929)
Matamata Geneology Society Matamata Record (1925 to 1939)
Tauranga City Library Te Puke Times (1921 to 1950)

We also have a new partnership with Timaru District Libraries to digitise the Timaru Herald (1921-1945) over the next three years. We’ll be digitising from 1921 to 1928 over the next 12 months.

We’re looking forward to working with everyone.

The 2020/2021 programme

Applications for the 2020/2021 programme will open in late January 2020.

You can apply to be part of this programme if you have a newspaper title you want to digitise and add to Papers Past.

We’ll get it online and split the costs with you, 50/50.

Papers Past

How does it work?

You can get into the programme three ways:

  1. Digitise this year: If your newspapers are already microfilmed, they can be included right away — we digitise microfilm because it’s cheaper and easier than doing the original papers.
  2. Microfilm for next year: If your papers need filming we’ll do that now, and digitise them in next year’s programme.
  3. Letter of acceptance: If your submission is accepted but you need funding, we’ll supply a letter of acceptance you can use to help fundraise for next year’s programme.

What happens if I'm accepted?

Successful applicants sign a digitisation agreement with us, laying out the work to be done, timeframes, and costs.

We then bring your microfilms and newspapers into our regular digitisation workflows. Your paper benefits from our economies of scale and over a decade of practice, keeping the costs down.

Once they’re ready, the files go up on Papers Past and into the National Digital Heritage Archive for long-term preservation.

What kind of material is considered by the collaborative digitisation programme?

To be accepted:

  • Your material will need to meet the Library of Congress definition of a newspaper.
  • Digitisation is easier if the paper is out of copyright, however, we will look at titles up to the end of 1950. If you have a title that is post-1920 and are unsure of the copyright, please contact
  • We also prefer to start new titles at the beginning of their runs and avoid gaps if possible. We’ll still consider all applications.

Apply for the collaborative digitisation programme

You can download the Collaborative Digitisation Application Guide 2019/2020 to see the whole application process and learn how to make your application.

You can also have a look at a sample digitisation agreement.

For information about Papers Past have a look at the Papers Past factsheet.

Collaborative Digitisation Application Guide 2019/2020 (pdf, 245KB)

Sample digitisation agreement (pdf, 146KB)

Papers Past factsheet (pdf, 100KB)

How far will my budget go?

You’ll pay an estimated $0.35 for each frame of microfilm – usually a page. Below, you can work out a general estimate of the costs involved with various sizes of newspaper.

The actual costs will be worked out after your submission has been accepted, and you’ll be invoiced later.

Estimate your costs

To work out an estimated cost you need to know:

  • how many issues a week were published, and
  • how many pages (on average) an issue had.

Multiply the number of issues per week by the number of pages per issue by 0.35 cents.

This gives you an estimate of how much it will cost to digitise a week's worth of newspaper issues.

To work out the estimated cost of digitising a year's worth of newspaper — multiply the figure for a week's worth of digitisation by 52.

To estimate how many years you could digitise within a given budget — divide your budget by the cost of a year's worth of digitisation.

Example of estimating costs

The Waiouru Post was a daily and published 6 issues a week. Each issue was 4 pages.

The estimated cost for you to digitise a week’s worth of the Waiouru Post is:

6 x 4 x $0.35 = $8.40

The estimated cost to digitise a year of the Waiouru Post is:

$8.40 x 52 = $436.80

If your budget was $8,000 you could digitise around 18 years of the Waiouru Post.

$8,000 / $436.80 = 18.32

Feature image from Papers Past, Opunake Times, 29 November 1946. Page 2 advertisements