The Round Table on Newspapers (later: Section on Newspapers, now Newsmedia Section) of IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations) has been the authoritative group of experts for newspaper matters within the international library community. It has been involved in the major newspapers projects like TIDEN, NewsPlan and US Newspaper Program, developed guidelines for best practice in preservation microfilming and digitisation, advised librarians and fostered international cooperation. In a series of outreach conferences from Shanghai to Santiago de Chile and from the Arctic Circle to Canberra it emphasized the importance of newspapers as indispensable historical source material and advocated their cataloguing and preservation. It did not only become an authority regarding newspaper digitisation but also legal deposit, born digital newspapers and hybrid forms. While the present volume documents the Round Table's work for a relatively short time span it was exactly that brief period that revolutionised newspapers, their preservation and their availability to readers (full text, text mining). The volume comprises reminiscences of some members of he Round Table, the minutes of the business meetings, and analytic index to the ten volumes of proceedings of the Conferences and a facsimile of the Newsletter of the Round Table. With many photographs in colour.
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Liczba stron: 214
Hartmut Walravens: In League with Newspapers. Reminiscences
Henry L. Snyder (1929–2016) in Memoriam
Geoffrey Hamilton: Destination RTN
Else Delaunay: How I Became a Member of the IFLA RTN
Edmund King: IFLA Newspapers Section. List of Meetings Organised by Ed King, as Secretary
Edmund King: RTN Minutes of Business Meetings, 2000–2009
Hartmut Walravens: Analytic Index to Ten Volumes of Proceedings, IFLA Newspapers Section, 2000–2011
RTN News 1 (1993)–19 (2009) [all published]
IFLA stands for International Federation of Library Associations, a worldwide organisation to promote libraries and librarianship; it was founded in 1927 in Edinburgh; its present headquarters is The Hague, The Netherlands. The major part of its work is accomplished by numerous sections which deal with individual areas of librarianship (for more information see www.ifla.org).
When exactly the Working-Group on Newpapers was established is not quite clear. At any rate, it was renamed Round Table on Newspapers (RTN) and affiliated with the Serials Section in 1989. The following material deals with the RTN phase of its work and tries to document some of its activities.
In contrast to the staff carousel of IFLA sections, the RTN, exempt from section rules, had a hard core of members who were enthusiastic about newspapers and were able to stay on; over the years close working relationships and the feeling of a newspaper family developed. Small wonder that after entering retirement the Newspaper Nine (counting spouses, too) decided on an annual get-together: The first one took place at Berlin, the following ones at St. Albans, Paris and Mikkeli, so far. Considering the fleeting years, it seemed advisable to give a brief survey of the activities of the Round Table as a keepsake and lasting tribute.
The present publication assembles, besides some introductory and bibliographic material, also the available minutes of the business meetings and the NEWS of the RTN. The selection of photographs is somewhat unbalanced; several colleagues contributed generously from their holdings but naturally the focus of these private snapshots was on excursions and sightseeing, not so much on the meetings themselves. They document the social activities which are not an unimportant part of professional networking.
The present report does not cover a long timespan – but crucial events in the development of newspapers and newspaper librarianship:
Newspapers had to cope with the growing role of electronic media, especially via the internet and had to reassess their mission. The overall quantity of newspapers decreased, a number of them started an electronic life.
Legal deposit was no longer focused on paper editions but electronic files became acceptable.
Some libraries decided on making microfilm printouts of
papers to guarantee preservation.
The rapid development of electronic storage options led to a preference for electronic files in contrast to the traditional microfilm. Besides considerations of space the option of making contents available to readers in a more user-friendly format played a major role. On the other hand, it may justly be doubted that all electronic content providers have safe storage facilities, like the Norwegian National library at Mo i Rana.
The RTN was involved in all these developments, as warner or adviser. Above all it discovered its role as multiplier of information:
Outreach became one of the foremost goals – reach librarians (and archivists) worldwide and providing the latest experience in the field.
This was done both by an increased publication activity and by seminars and conferences all over the world.
The RTN also insisted on keeping to or developing new standards for digitisation and microfilming.
The RTN (in league with IFLA PAC) emphasized the urgent need of conserving and preserving newspapers as outstanding historical source material.
It tried to forge cooperation and liaisons with software and contents providers as well as organisations like CONSER and ICON.
Through its members it had direct contacts to the Nordic Newspaper project, to NewsPlan and the US (& Canadian) Newspaper Project.
Thus the short time span here under consideration covered crucial developments in newspapers and newspaper librarianship.
The present volume owes its existence to the support of the Newspaper Nine, and the particular efforts of Else Delaunay and Ed King who generously contributed from their photographic archives.
Who are the Newspaper Nine? – Majlis Bremer-Laamanen and her husband Jakke, Else Delaunay, Geoffrey Hamilton and his wife Bonnie, Edmund King and his wife Alison, Hartmut Walravens and his wife Christine Bell ...
Background in Germany
Newspapers as a publication form have a history of more than 400 years now. Researchers say that they were invented in Germany even if no tangible copy of the first newspaper has come to light – there is only a reference to it. Consequently, there have been many newspapers in the country but there has not been a systematic approach to newspaper collecting and preservation. There are a number of reasons for it but no excuse:
Owing to the weak central power the map of the Holy Roman Empire looked like a patchwork: there were largely independent kingdoms, duchies, principalities and other territories, and they were responsible for their own publications. If newspapers were collected it was usually the task of the court libraries or archives; often there was some connection with censorship. This meant that newspapers were not necessarily preserved. – The unification of Germany after the Franco-Prussian War 1870/71 did not basically change the situation. While Prussia was the dominant power, Germany was still a federation.
A national library («Deutsche Bücherei») was established only in 1912 by the German Publishers Association because the book sector was in need of a reference collection. Individual publishers were sometimes ignorant about their own earlier publications, and copyright became more and more important. Therefore the Association started a national collection of publications. But: As the newpaper publishers had not joined this undertaking, newspapers were not included. Even when soon after the national library became a state institution (with the publishers still on the board) the situation did not change, and newspapers were not required as legal deposit under the national legislation.
Today, some of the major libraries, like the Berlin State Library, the Bavarian State Library and Halle University Library have considerable holdings; a large part of the newspapers is preserved in archives.
The first and so far only German library that established a newspaper department was the Deutsche Staatsbibliothek at Berlin, the major library of the GDR; after the unification of Germany and the merger of the two state libraries in Berlin this tradition was continued.
Owing to recent German history, many newspaper collections were scattered, lost, or destroyed; much was still extant but not easily accessible, partly for lack of information and proper catalogues, partly because of space and storage conditions.
An effort to list German newspaper holdings was already made in 1933 when Hans Traub compiled a preliminary union catalogue – a pioneering effort.
After WWII this catalogue was hopelessly out of date even if of some use for historical purposes. Nobody thought of continuing Traub’s efforts – newspapers were not high on the libraries’ priority list, not to say anything about archives which, mainly concerned about documents, often considered newspapers unwelcome bulk.
There was, however, some understanding that newspapers should be preserved as the holdings were crumbling away. The Institute of Newspaper Research (Dortmund) and Bremen University Library took the lead – newspaper experts at Bremen had established a union card file which was a pool of information from a multitude of secondary sources, usually not the original collections, and therefore referees later on declared it completely unfit for publication. But it was a basis for practical work and gave many hints. A newly established Microfilm Archive of the German Press administered the filming efforts and published a list of microfilm holdings as a reference tool.
Getting involved in the Round Table
This rough sketch described the situation when I became professionally confronted with newspapers. In 1986 I was transferred to the Berlin State Library and took over the responsibility of running the German Union catalogue of serials (Zeitschriftendaten-bank). At that time it was still a huge card file and consisted of several subfiles – German Titles, Foreign Titles, and Corporate Bodies. With the progress of electronic data processing this was eventually turned into an online shared cataloguing system as it stands today. It seemed to be the ideal tool for including newspaper information as well but this could only be done on a project basis. Two other efforts were more successful: The ZDB was incompatible with the data from Bavaria as they used a different interpretation of the cataloguing rules. Fortunately the director of the Bavarian State Library, Dr. Hermann Leskien, was open-minded, and he helped to secure funding for the merger project. The situation was similar with Austria, and again – with some patience – another schism was averted.
The complex work of administering serials data, and the need of more international cooperation soon led me to IFLA and its serials section where I was in good company with colleagues from the ISSN system. That was a nice coincidence because one of my other hats was the administration of the international ISBN system.
Thus I became acquainted with the Round Table on Newspapers which was affiliated with the section. Soon I was fascinated by the news from the newspaper scene – There were major national programmes going on: NewsPlan in the UK, a Scandinavian project for cataloguing and microfilming the newspaper holdings in the respective countries, and the biggest untertaking, the North American Newspaper Programme which had the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities and was tracking down, cataloguing and microfilming the vast holdings state by state (or, province, respectively, in Canada). Therefore I stepped up to Robert Harriman, the chair of the Round Table, at the Conference at Delhi and expressed my interest in joining the little group. He welcomed me warmly but at the first or second meeting of the RTN that I attended he let us know that he intended to step down from his chairmanship. This was like a cold shower as Bob was a good expert and a nice colleague - and he worked at the Library of Congress, i.e. he represented a very important institution. The attendees looked at each other – they all had already lots of other commitments, groups to chair, or were officially retired and continued their work just because of their enthusiasm. Finally they looked at me, the only one without a convincing excuse. Thus I became the chair of the RTN and remained there for years, partly in conjunction with chairing the Serials section.
One of the advantages of the RTN was that it did not follow the rotating membership scheme of IFLA. In general, regularly changing membership may be a positive rule because it allows fresh ideas to come in and prevents the same people from occupying a committee. With only few people in IFLA who were genuinely and expertly interested in newspapers there were problems in complying with some of IFLA’s rules, e.g. the number of required institutional members, but also working members on the committee. These difficulties the RTN had to cope with when later on IFLA decided to do away with RTs and similar groups; if still useful they should be elevated to the ranks of sections, or, if they could not find enough members they should merge with another section. The RTN opposed this as long as possible, then it had to give in and make the best of the situation.
The RTN was an excellent small group with much motivation and enthusiasm and easy to work with. Of utmost importance for smooth work was the secretary, a position traditionally filled by a colleague from the British Library, usually the head of the Newspaper Library at Colindale. I only worked with Geoffrey Hamilton, a good-humoured colleague with vast experience for one year until he was going to retire. He probably was not too happy to work with a greenhorn like me but he never let me feel it and I profited from his advice. He was succeeded by Geoff Smith from the British Library, also a very pleasant colleague who was soon given another responsibility. John Byford acted only for a brief period as secretary. Most of the time I worked with Edmund King who retired the same year as myself from IFLA. He was an excellent support, took a lot of the administrative work from my shoulders, wrote the minutes and took care of the communication network of the RT.
Another friend who helped enormously was Henry Snyder, professor at the University of California at Riverside and director of the Institute of Bibliography there. He played an important role in the compilation of the ESTC (English Language Short Title Catalogue) and the California Newspaper Project. Henry was a very practical man, always had good ideas and saw to their realisation. In addition, he was full of true anecdotes and stories from his own experience, and people listened to him with rapt attention. He also commanded authority and his opponents did not find it easy to brush his advice away.2 Other pillars of support were Else Delaunay, of Danish descent (her father used to be head of the Royal Library at Copenhagen) who authored several volumes of the Bibliographie de la presse française, and Majlis Bremer-Laamanen, head of the Microfilming and Preservation Centre of the National Library of Finland, situated at Mikkeli, both very active, kind and pleasant to work with.
It took me a while to really get into newspaper work – I was a serials man, yes, but newspapers are very special. My colleagues helped me, and I thoroughly enjoyed the work.
The routine matters included a session with usually three presentations during the annual IFLA General Conference (that was the name then) and two business meetings – one before the start of the Conference, one immediately after it to discuss comittee matters, especially programme design, membership, and projects.
In addition, there was the option of organising a separate satellite meeting to the General Conference, which had to be approved on a higher level. It turned out difficult to find sponsors for such events as most donors were already involved in supporting the General Conference.
The most difficult task was to run projects – on a shoestring! It was not for want of ideas that only few such undertakings were realized: It was practically impossible to find any substantial support. Thus we never got to a kind of cataloguing guideline for historical newspapers (suggested by Henry Snyder): Else Delaunay and Majken Bremer-Laamanen spent a lot of time and effort to compile Guidelines for microfilming and digitizing newspapers, and Majken organized a hands-on workshop on newspaper digitization at Mikkeli. Another project, worked on by Else, was to comply with the desire of African libraries to have the most important newspapers of their own countries at their disposal. At that time, this would have been possible by the distribution of microfilm copies – and that meant funding. Also, the wishes were rather divergent, and there was the question of equipment (reader-printers) and its maintenance to be considered. Therefore this idea was after all not realized. There were encouraging successes but the options were limited as they required more resources than we had.
This led to another idea: Could we try the option of additional midwinter or spring meetings and combine them with outreach? It was obvious that the committee members were almost all from «developed» countries while many countries that needed advice and encouragement heard little about our efforts and the current options that colleagues might have to offer. Above all, not money alone was the magic wand but ideas, learning from experience, avoiding mistakes made by your predecessors and efficient administration and management.
The idea was tried out in a preliminary way by having business meetings in various places. When we met at Ottawa, at the National Library [Now Library & Archives Canada], colleagues there suggested to give brief presentations of our respective work and plans for interested library staff – which was gladly done. The following series of spring meetings formed a trip around the world: Cape Town – Berlin – Shanghai – Canberra – Salt Lake City – Santiago de Chile – Singapore – Moscow. Because of my standards duties I was in close cooperation with national libraries worldwide, and therefore it was not particularly difficult to find a venue and convince colleagues. After all it was in the interest of most countries and library systems to get more information on digital technology and its application to newspapers. Some of these conferences drew up to 140 participants. In South Africa, Germany, China, Australia and Chile we were real pioneers, and in Australia we were particularly welcome because colleagues were just about to launch a major digitization project. In the US and in Singapore we as co-organizers learned a lot from our hosts. It is very pleasing to see that the Newsmedia Section (as it is called now) has been continuing this tradition of spring meetings.
Digital technology was certainly high on the priority of the RTN because the experiences in Scandinavia, the UK and North America proved that it was the tool to make the enormous amount of content available to users.
One has to admit, however, that both Edmund King and I (as well as the hard core of the RTN) supported the official doctrine that microfilming was still the safest and lasting way of preservation and conservation of newspapers. This view crumbled already towards the end of our activity in the RTN and nowadays it is widely given up in favour of digitization. The risks of digital preservation cannot be ruled out especially in times of vulnerable electronic and automated networks, growing terrorism and loss of common sense, not to speak of responsibility. On the other hand, our meeting at Mo i Rana (Norway), on the Arctic Circle, showed us convincingly that there are safe (even if not 100% safe) solutions in place to ensure the preservation of electronic data.
Frequent users of microfilmed newspapers will agree that the use of these films may not only be a «pain in the neck» but also the quality of the films because of lack of quality control (for reasons of cost only sample controls were usually possible) leaves much to be desired. In countries that had a tradition in preservation by filming it turned out that a considerable percentage of the films could not be used for subsequent digitization but had to be redone. That is certainly also a matter of growing awareness of the need of quality standards and the mentioned Guidelines for Microfilming and Digitization were an important step in the right direction, even if they may not have been strict enough in order not to give poor or underprivileged countries the impression that all their efforts might be in vain anyhow.
Another new feature of the RTN was the insight that conferences reach only a very limited audience. To make the results of such meetings available to a worldwide community it was preferable to publish the proceedings of the conferences. We chose the publication in the IFLA Publication Series and thank the then IFLA programme director Sjoerd Koopman for kindly accomodating our volumes there. My Berlin colleague Carolin Unger did the layouting even though I could compensate her efforts only by a tip so to speak.
Carolin Unger, 2004
When we published our last volume in 2011 we were surprised to see that we had a series of ten volumes eight of which were published by IFLA while two were available to the participants already at the beginning of the conferences. Chapeau to the organizers Dr. Artur Jazdon, director of the University Library at Poznan and Dr. Ramesh Gaur of the Indira Gandhi Institute, New Delhi! Cumulated indices to all the volumes are to be found at the end of the 2011 volume (and below).
An important partner within IFLA was PAC – The Preservation and Conservation core activity. It advised and coordinated the work of national and regional PAC centres all over the world. This organisation was of high importance as the majority of printed publications after appr. 1830 was endangered by the acidity of the paper and tended to crumble away – not to speak of other factors – temperature and humidity, natural catastrophes, etc. PAC alerted libraries to these dangers, informed about measures to be taken, organized seminars. PAC and the RTN entertained a fruitful cooperation as newspapers were not only particularly endangered, they also came in large quantities ... The burden of PAC was shouldered by the Bibliothèque nationale de France which funded the centre which was headed by Marie-Thérèse Varlamoff and then by Christiane Baryla. After Christiane’s retirement at the end of 2015 it was decided, however, to discontinue the IFLA PAC core activity – not only for funding reasons: Digitization, electronic mass storage, the option of offering huge files by means of the Internet seemed to make further efforts to preserve the originals obsolete, at least on an international level where IFLA PAC was turned into a „strategic programme“.
Another word on publications – While the RTN / Newsmedia Section conferences and programmes usually had a good response (and this continues owing to the efforts of the section) most of the information reached primarily the participants of the events. It is true, a number of papers read at the General Conferences (now: WLIC – World Library and Information Congress) were mounted on the IFLA website, but most of the spring and satellite conferences were not. Therefore the publication of the procedings of the meetings seemed highly desirable. Thus the information percolated to many libraries all over the world. As the indices to the proceedings show the volumes are a mine of information.
One has to admit some papers would have needed more thorough editing, especially those of non-native English speakers. But that was impossible to do – without funding. That strong efforts were made to turn the texts into at least an understandable form may be proven by a sample proof-sheet (see below).
A corrected proofsheet of the Mozhaisk proceedings
1Standortskatalog wichtiger Zeitungsbestände in deutschen Bibliotheken / Hans Traub. Leipzig: Hiersemann, 1933.
2 See a short obituary: H. Walravens: Henry L. Snyder in memoriam (1929–2016). Zeitschrift für Bibliothekswesen und Bibliographie 2016, 238–239. It is given below.
Henry Snyder war in bibliothekarischen Kreisen am besten bekannt, obwohl er als Historiker auf britische Geschichte spezialisiert war. Die Beschäftigung mit dem 18. Jahrhundert führte ihn zum English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC), dessen amerikanischer Direktor er wurde; weitere bibliographische Projekte schlossen sich an, die sich aus seiner Leitung des Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research an der University of California, Riverside ergaben.
Am 9. November 1929 in Hayward, California, geboren; seine Familie war in Kalifornien eingesessen – sein Vater war Baumeister und einige seiner prominenten Bauten stehen heute noch in San Francisco. Er studierte er an der University of California, war sich anfangs aber noch nicht über sein Berufsziel klar, und so führte sein Weg über die Nationalgarde, der er 1951–1961 angehörte, und Arbeit im Einzelhandel erst 1963 zur Promotion. Seine Dissertation erforderte die Durcharbeitung eines erst gerade für die Forschung geöffneten britischen Adelsarchivs (Blenheim Palace), was seine Spezialisierung als Historiker erklärt. Seine Neigung zu Büchern stammte aus früher Jugend, als er sein Taschengeld vorzugsweise in Büchern anlegte, wurde aber durch die Einzelshandelstätigkeit und die Forschung weiter gefördert. Auch als Professor, zunächst an der University of Kansas, dann an der University of Louisiana, lagen ihm Bestandsaufbau und Management der Bibliotheken am Herzen. 1986 übernahm er die Leitung des Center for Bibliographic Studies in Riverside, und damit wurde Bibliographie seine Haupttätigkeit. Er war nicht von Anfang an beim ESTC involviert gewesen; als jedoch die amerikanische Beteiligung an diesem wichtigen Projekt schwankte, trat er 1978 als Co-Director ein und schaffte es, die amerikanischen Bibliotheken durchweg zur Mitarbeit zu gewinnen. Eine weitere Tätigkeit ergab sich in Hinsicht auf Zeitungen, die ja zu den beliebtesten, aber bis vor wenigen Jahren auch am
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