The Newsroom blog

News about yesterday's news, and where news may be going


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31 August 2022

200 years of collecting newspapers

2022 marks a special anniversary for the Newspaper Collection at the British Library. 200 years ago, in April 1822, the British Museum’s Department of Printed Books began systematically collecting newspapers. From that foundation the Library’s newspaper collections has continued to grow, and now comprises more than 36,000 titles from the UK and overseas, or 60 million individual newspaper issues. 

The Old Newspaper Reading Room in the British Museum from Sells Dictionary of the Worlds Press 1893.

The Old Newspaper Reading Room in the British Museum, Bloomsbury. Sell's Dictionary of the World's Press 1893

Like many of the British Library’s collections, newspapers were originally part of the British Museum’s Department of Printed Books. However, from the Museum’s founding in 1753, until the 1820s, news publications were not seen as a distinct collection in their own right, and weren’t part of any concerted collecting effort. The impetus for changing this came in 1818, when a large collection of early newspapers, compiled by Dr Charles Burney (1757-1817), was purchased by the Museum. The Burney Collection of newspapers 1603-1818, when added to the Thomason Tracts (a collection of newspapers and news-books from the English Civil War period, which had been purchased for the museum by George III in 1762), formed a significant collection of early newspapers; enough for the museum to start considering the form in its own right.

In April 1822, after negotiations by Henry Baber (1775-1869), Keeper of the Printed Books, the British Museum began to collect newspapers in a systematic fashion. This was achieved via an arrangement with the Stamp Office, who at the time collected all newspapers published in Britain for purposes of registration and taxation. They kept the newspapers for two years, in case they were needed for legal cases, but agreed to pass them on to the British Museum after this period had elapsed. The first newspapers to arrive at the library were London papers for the years 1818 and 1819, and the first consignment contained sixty complete sets for these years, and twenty-one imperfect sets. Provincial newspapers were added to those deposited by the Stamp Office in 1832, and Scottish and Irish newspapers were sent from 1848. 

British Museum Trustees Standing Committee Minutes of Ordinary Business 13 April 1822

British Museum Trustees Standing Committee Minutes of Ordinary Business  13 April 1822 highlight

British Museum Trustees Standing Committee: Minutes of Ordinary Business, 13 April 1822.

There are very few surviving records of this early arrangement between the Stamp Office and the British Museum. The image above, showing a short notice of thanks to the Stamp Office after the first consignment of newspapers arrived, which was recorded in the minutes of the Trustees Standing Committee. This is the only know record held at the British Museum/British Library, and there is no list of which newspapers arrived in that first delivery. Records for this period from the Stamp Office do not survive. Therefore, we have no certainty about which newspapers were the first actively collected by the British Library, but we can make some educated guesses. Below is an image of the front page of The World, which began publication in January 1818. This newspaper has annotations, including the publishers name and address, which were made by clerks at the Stamp Office. This indicates that it was originally the Stamp Office copy, and it was published in one of the first years deposited at the British Museum, so it is likely that this is one of the titles handed over during the first year of the arrangement.

The World Vol 1 No 1 4th January 1818

The World, Vol. 1, No. 1, 4th January 1818.

Newspapers arrived at the British Museum from the Stamp Office via this arrangement until 1869, when Legal Deposit laws were introduced. From that date onwards a copy of each newspapers produced in the country legally had to be deposited at the library by the publishers. The British Museum was now entirely responsible for its own newspaper collecting, and began building up a sizeable and (mostly) comprehensive collection of British newspapers.

The rate of newspapers publication from the late nineteenth century quickly led to storage problems for the British Museum, and from 1905 many newspapers were stored offsite at Colindale in north London. In the early 1930s this offsite newspaper storage depot was expanded, and a reading room was added, with the new Newspaper Library at Colindale opening to readers in August 1932.

In 1973 the British Library was established, and while newspapers, along with the other collections of the Department of Printed Books, were transferred to the new institution, they continued to be housed at Colindale until 2013. Newspapers then travelled up to Boston Spa, a site that had been used by the British Museum and then the British Library since 1962. A dedicated newspaper reading room was open at St Pancras in 2014, and the state of the art National Newspaper building designed especially for storing newspapers was opened in 2015.

Newspaper continue to be an important part of the British Library’s collections, with around 1,000 newspapers added to the collection each week. Alongside this, the Library now collects radio, broadcast, and internet news, creating the national news collection. Curators also continue to work to preserve and make accessible the newspapers from the Museum’s earliest days of collecting. Many of the first newspapers to arrive in 1822 have been recently digitised as part of the Heritage Made Digital project, and are now freely available to view via the British Newspaper Archive.


Esdaile, Arundell. The British Museum Library. London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1946.

Harris, P. R. A History of the British Museum Library, 1753-1973. London: The British Library, 1998.
                        The Library of the British Museum: Retrospective Essays on the Department of Printed Books. London: The British Library, 1993.

Gaskell, Beth and McKernan, Luke. ‘British Library News Collection’. In Breaking the News: 500 Years of News in Britain. London: British Library, 2022.


Beth Gaskell, Newspaper Curator

30 August 2022

British Library Television News Programme-Level List

Following on from our recent announcement of a complete title-level downloadable listing of all newspapers catalogued by the British Library, we now have a downloadable listing of all our television news programmes, available from today on our Research Repository.

Broadcast News service

British Library's Broadcast News Service with programmes for 30 August 2022

The British Library Television News Programme-Level List provides a programme-level record of all television news and current affairs programmes recorded by the British Library’s Broadcast News service between March 2010 and May 2022. All of the channels featured were receivable free-to-air in the UK and licensed by Ofcom. All of the programmes listed can be accessed in the British Library’s reading rooms via the Broadcast News service.

There are 114,380 programmes listed, each with record number, programme title, series title, description, publisher/broadcaster, production date and duration. It should be noted that for many of the programmes we only have a generic description (e.g. "The latest national and international news"), though there are plenty of programmes with meaningful descriptions, including some tagged under themes such as Coronavirus, Donald Trump and Ukraine Conflict. The subtitles that we capture with when we record television news programmes are not included in the list.

The channels features, with their dates of recordings held, are:

Channel Recording dates
Al Jazeera English 06/05/2010– ongoing
Arirang TV HD 16/03/2022- ongoing
BBC One London 06/05/2010– ongoing
BBC News 06/05/2010– ongoing
BBC Parliament 01/06 2010– ongoing
BBC Two 06/05/2010– ongoing
BBC Four 04/06/2010– ongoing
BBC Scotland 05/03/2019- ongoing
Bloomberg TV 01/06/2010– 30/06/2016
CGTN 31/12/2016 – 04/02/2021
Channel 4 06/05/2010– ongoing
Channel 5 29/03/2010-17/06/2010, 16/04/2018-07/01/2020
Channels 24 02/11/2015– ongoing
CNN 06/05/2010– ongoing
CCTV News 22/02/2012– 30/12/2016
Euronews 07/05/2010–21/03/2011, 05/06/2017 - ongoing
France 24 English 29/05/2010– ongoing
ITV1 London 06/05/2010– ongoing
GB News 13/06/2021- ongoing
NHK World 21/06/2010– 30/09/2011
NHK World HD 06/10/2011– ongoing
RT (Russia Today) 01/06/2010– 02/03/2022
Sky News 02/06/2010– ongoing
TalkTV HD 25/04/2022- ongoing
TRT World 08/01/2020- ongoing

The listing is available in Excel spreadsheet down and can be downloaded under a CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain licence. The DOI is

This is part of our growing collection of freely-available news datasets, all available under the News Datasets section of the Research Repository. Until now, we have added on newspaper and press directory data to the Repository.In adding television, we are demonstrating the multi-media approach to our collecting of the nation's news. Radio and Web news must follow.

We hope that researchers will find interesting uses for the Television News Programme-Level List and welcome any feedback.

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 National Newspaper Building

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:

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

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

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.

Tamara Tubb

Project Curator, News Collections