12 June 2022
World newspaper data from the British Library
The British Library has 36,253 newspaper titles from 193 countries and territories, representing 88 languages. How do we know this? Because we’ve been analysing the data. Now we’re making that data freely available for anyone to view, download, edit and share.
Newspapers inside the British Library's National Newspaper Building
Back in 2019 we published our catalogue of British and Irish newspapers in a reusable format. Now we have done the same for our entire catalogue of world newspapers. For each newspaper title that we hold we have taken information on the start and end years of publication, the places of publication (city, country, coverage, continent), variant titles and editions, and the language of publication. All of this information exists on the British Library's Explore catalogue, but in making the core information about each newspaper title available in spreadsheet under an open licence, we are making the newspaper catalogue much easier to use for analysis, selection (e.g. finding all of the titles published in one country or any language, between a range of dates) and integration with other sets of data.
What we are calling the British Library Newspaper Title-level List can be found on our Research Repository here: https://bl.iro.bl.uk/concern/datasets/943bd083-6355-44a1-97eb-b8ff898f87d5?locale=en
Erik Nylund, infographics designer and founder of VisualizeThat, has helped showcase the data through an interactive guide to our newspaper collections:
(To see the full size interactive guide, visit https://eriknylund.se/bl/blnewspapermap.svg)
Click on a country to see a full list of published newspapers in that area, from there click through to individual title records in the British Library catalogue. Use the = and – buttons to zoom in out of continents and regions. Set the time period of publication with the bar at the bottom of the screen. Discover the variety of languages that newspapers have been published in throughout the world, by clicking ‘Number of languages’ tab at the top right of the screen. Or, to view all of the data, quickly and simply, click through to a selection of charts at the ‘Show charts’ tab.
The joy of having all this data cleaned and in one place is that patterns and narratives about the collections emerge, allowing for in-depth analysis and discovery. To see a few favourite themes that have come to light through this project, check out the animations below (also created by Erik Nylund):
German language newspapers in North America
UK & Ireland newspaper title trends
Longest running UK newspapers, still published today
Non-English language newspapers in the UK
The British Library Newspaper Title-level List is part of a growing collection of News collection datasets which we are adding to the Research Repository, including full texts of out-of-copyright nineteenth-century newspapers, press directories and other title-level lists. These can be found under British Library News Datasets. We have also created an introductory News Data page as one of the British Library's collection guides, at https://www.bl.uk/collection-guides/news-data.
Look out for many more news datasets to be added to the Research Repository in the coming months.
The British Library Newspaper Title-level List project was generously funded by Dr Eugenia M. Palmegiano, with additional support from the Eccles Centre for American Studies.
Project Curator, News Collections