NewsBank regional manager, Michelle Leon, says the Rand Daily Mail team will begin digitising the most recent editions, from 1985, and “will work back in time to 1902”.
Leon says one of the main challenges in digitising newspaper archives is the quality of the source material used in the scanning process.
“The better the image quality of the newspaper page in the microfilm, the simpler it is to scan the microfilm to create a digital page image and then make the content searchable,” she says. “Through a sophisticated software process called Optical Character Recognition, OCR, the text on the image of the newspaper page can be made searchable in a computer database. If the quality of the images on the microfilm are good and consistent, the quality of the OCR process yields good results and makes the archive searchable for end users,” Leon explains.
Leon says publishers with extensive archives are engaging a variety of models to monetise their value.
“Some will offer access to their digital archives combined as part of their subscription package to consumers. They may sell access separately for just the historical archive. Some publishers offer their archive as a bonus for their print subscribers,” she says.
In terms of the Rand Daily Mail, however, she says NewsBank will bring an additional value into play by selling and distributing the Rand Daily Mail’s historical archive in the global library market. “Researchers around the world will be interested in having access to this particular newspaper that brings a unique perspective to the historical reporting of South Africa and the world,” she says.
Leon says archival products like the Rand Daily Mail “are sold as collections to subscribing institutions – universities, research institutions, public libraries, schools and government libraries. The libraries make the archive available to their authorised users both in their library buildings and remotely. Pricing for libraries is customised at an individual library level”.
Image: NewsBank website
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