Born-Digital News: It’s Not Dead Yet

As I wrote in “The Archivist’s Blues,” a massive amount of information being created by an exploding Web is in danger of disappearing before we remember that it was there. For news websites who create “born-digital news,” this is especially perilous, as so much news crucial to a community’s health and identity is likely to vanish from the record.

That’s what participants were warned at “Down The Memory Hole II: An Action Assembly” (DMH-2), a conference last May to address the needs of born-digital news preservation. The two-day event involved a wide swath of memory stakeholders — press associations, journalists, technologists, publishers, archivists, librarians and vendors — and it ended with some good tentative first steps now being taken.

Tentative, because amid the wild explosion of born-digital news, nothing yet feels very substantial in reversing the trend down the memory hole.

And there are no experts, no proven solutions. Just a cross-disciplinary crew dedicating to approaching it from every conceivable angle . Out of that comes a tentative view of what’s next.

This post will look at some of the ideas — and solutions — that have percolated up in the time since.

Reproduced with permission from the author, David Cohea. The full article can be found here:



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IFLA News Media (Newspapers) Section Report 2014

Under a new name towards an even more digital future

The Newspapers Section has been in the process of changing its name to News Media Section. At the Salt Lake City standing committee meeting the members began to discuss changing the name and mission statement of the Section so that the name and statement would reflect new media types, and not simply focus mostly on historical newspapers.  Discussion continued in Geneva and Lyon, leading also to the revision of the Section’s mission statement.

The members of the standing committee and section have been asked their opinion after the meetings. The members have agreed, and the change was officially approved by IFLA Professional Committee in December.

Stockholm, African Game Reserve and Capetown – conference venues in 2015

Next year we are aiming at the Stockholm Midyear Conference, Pretoria Satellite Meeting and Cape Town Open Session! Welcome to join us in these events.

The Pretoria Satellite Meeting is organized in a game reserve where participants have the possibility to enjoy the real African savannah and wildlife. The theme of the Conference is Newspaper E-Publishing Trends: the Stewardship Role of Libraries (August 12-13).

Call for Papers:

The Open Session Call for Papers:

The Stockholm Conference (April 15 – 16) is about born digital news, web harvest of born digital news, and legal deposit of born digital news.  The News Media Section and the Audiovisual and Multimedia Section will collaborate.

Call for papers:

In cooperation with the IFLA News Media Section, the Center for Research Libraries (CRL, Chicago, USA) will convene a meeting of major actors in the newspaper digitization community to consider a strategic, cooperative approach to future digitization of the world’s legacy news collections. CRL is a coalition of 200+ research libraries from North America and a member of the Newspapers Section’s standing committee.  It supports advanced research and teaching in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences.

Highlights of the past year

 Salt Lake City Midyear Conference

Salt Lake City conference was organized in February.  FamilySearch offered us a venue in a grand building and welcoming ambience.

Minutes from the business meeting at the conference are at; the presentations and papers from the conference are at

Geneva Satellite Meeting

International Telecommunications Union welcomed the Section in its premises in Geneva. The organizing and managing of the conference were like Swiss clockwork.

The presentations and papers from “Digital Transformation and the Changing Role of News Media in the 21st Century” are available at

Lyon Open Session and business meetings

The presentations and papers of the Open Session are available at

The minutes of the business meetings are available at

Digitisation workshops in Malaysia and India

IFLA Professional Committee approved the project proposal of the Section: to finance travel costs of digitization workshop leaders provided by the Section.

The Kuala Lumpur workshop was held in conjunction with the 2014 International Digital Library Conference in Kuala Lumpur (  The New Delhi workshop was held in conjunction with the International Conference on the Convergence of Libraries, Archives, and Museums ICLAM 2014 (

Social media presence – bloggers are sought for

Blog authors are actively sought for! Please volunteer by contacting Minna, Frederick, Cally or Mazelan.

Contacts and links are found on the Newspapers Section’s home webpage (

Social media channels of the Section

Thank you all for your contribution to the work of the Section.

 Wishing you a wonderful holiday season, Christmas and New Year!


Minna Kaukonen

Chair, News Media Section

Frederick Zarndt


Cally Law and

Mazelan Anuar

Information coordinators

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New Data for Decision-making on Newspaper Digitization and Preservation

At the recent Newspaper Section open session at IFLA ( I spoke about the International Coalition on Newspapers (ICON) Database.  Developed and managed by the Center for Research Libraries (CRL), the ICON Database is a registry of information on the hard copy, microform and digitized holdings of U.S. and foreign newspapers held by research libraries ( The purpose of ICON is to provide data to inform decision-making by libraries and publishers on newspaper preservation and digitization.

ICON now contains bibliographic records for over 170,000 newspaper titles, published in 51 US jurisdictions, 9 Canadian provinces, and 159 other nations.  It also includes issue-level data on the holdings of these titles included in major repositories and digital collections, including CRL, the American Antiquarian Society, the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America database and the CRL/Readex World Newspaper Archive.

We at CRL aim to further expand the database, to include data on newspapers digitized by other national libraries and by credible commercial publishers.  We now have commitments from Readex, ProQuest, and Gale to contribute issue-level metadata on the contents of their newspaper databases.  We are exploring inclusion of metadata for newspapers included in the Europeana Newspaper project and The Australian Newspaper Digitisation Project from the National Library of Australia’s online repository Trove as well.

Based on the data gathered CRL will do an analysis of the coverage of world newspapers by these digitization efforts to date.  We will report on our preliminary analysis, and its implications, at a meeting to be held in conjunction with the IFLA Newspaper Section midyear conference in Stockholm, in April 2015.  This preliminary analysis will provide the basis for exploring prospects for wider disclosure of metadata by libraries and publishers digitizing newspapers, and of aggregation of technical and operational information about the digital repositories and platforms.

We welcome members of the library community to provide us data on their physical and digitized holdings for ICON.  Our metadata requirements are fairly simple, involving data normally generated in the process of digitization. We are interested in information about three different kinds of entities:

1. Title-level information: titles, city and country of publication, beginning and ending dates of publication, frequencies, and other data that identify unique titles (including unique identifiers such as ISSN, LCCN, or OCLC no.).

2. Issue-level holdings information: a detailed listing of each issue held by your repository, with significant indicators such as volume, issue numbers, other useful masthead data from the dates of publication.

3. Repository information: data on where the issues are held and stored, the source and provenance of the reformatted content, and other useful information linking the metadata to the repository.

ICON’s specifications on the desired and required fields we would like to obtain from libraries are available on request. We anticipate working with repositories to periodically refresh the data to stay current with ongoing digitization.

To obtain more information about this project, you can contact James Simon at CRL (

Bernard F. Reilly, Jr.
President, Center for Research Libraries


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Birdie MacLennan in memoriam

Birdie  Birdie MacLennan

It is still unreal to me. Two weeks ago, on Feb 28, Birdie and the VTDNP Team went to Rutland to visit a local newspaper followed by a taping for ‘Historically Speaking with Jim Davidson’ at the Rutland Community Access Channel. On the way home, she said that she was not feeling well and might be coming down with the flu – she was relating to me also as I just came back from Indonesia the day before. She came back to work on Tuesday, I had a meeting with her but she was still not feeling 100%.

I am glad that I could be there, on her last few days of work. Birdie was a great librarian and her interest in newspaper preservation and project was unrelenting. I drew a lot of my energy with the project from her. She will be missed. Thank you, Birdie.

– Erenst Anip, Project Librarian for the Vermont Digital Newspapers Project and Library Assistant Professor at the University of Vermont


Birdie had a great interest in languages, also the Nordic ones, which was impressive. She used Finnish words in her e-mails to me, for instance – a kind thing to do.

In one of her last messages to me she told that she wanted to learn Swedish.  We discussed an early female Swedish author and her work, that she wished to find out more about in the original language.  Although our paths crossed only for a while, I felt her warmth and kind spirit as well as her professional commitment.

I miss her.

– Minna Kaukonen, Chair, IFLA Newspapers Section


Members of the Newspapers Section first met Birdie in August 2013 at the Section’s satellite meeting and WLIC 2013 in Singapore.  It was, so far as I know, her 1st time at an ILFA conference.  And did she jump into the thick of things!!  I have never seen anyone so enthusiastic about participating in Section activities including volunteering to help organize the Salt Lake City International Newspapers Conference in February 2014.

I knew Birdie less than 1 year.  Nevertheless she impressed me as kind and gentle soul with lots and lots of passion about anything that interested her.  Birdie, I will miss you.

– Frederick Zarndt, Secretary, IFLA Newspapers Section


I only got to know Birdie when we joined the IFLA Newspapers Section standing committee. In the short time I interacted with her, I can see her winning personality that had made her much loved by those she had touched in her life. She had only nice things to say about Singapore. The kind words she showered will remain much appreciated.

– Mazelan Anuar, Information Coordinator, IFLA Newspapers Section & Senior Librarian, National Library Board (Singapore)


I got to know Birdie during the IFLA Newspapers Section Standing Committee meeting, a very short time frame. I can tell she was a very passionate person towards her works and from her contributions to the success of the Salt Lake City conference. I really wish I had the chance to work with her. Miss you, Birdie.

– Cally Law, Information Coordinator, IFLA Newspapers Section & Project Manager, Singapore National Library Board (Singapore)


It is with great sadness that we share that our colleague, Library  Professor Birdie MacLennan, passed away after a brief illness on March 10, 2014.

Birdie began working in the Libraries’ Cataloging Department in 1990,  after working at Harvard University and Merrimack College and receiving a Master of Library Sciences from Simmons College. Since  2008, she served as Director of theUVM Libraries’ Resource Description and Analysis Services Department. Her service to the library profession resulted in widespread recognition from her peers around  the world. She was also an active member of the UVM faculty, with many years of service on the Faculty Senate’s Professional Standards Committee.

In 2005 she received a Master of Arts in French from UVM; these studies greatly informed her teaching and scholarship. She was the  Libraries’ subject liaison to the Romance Languages department, where her growing proficiencies in French and Italian benefited faculty and  students and satisfied her deep intellectual curiosity. Birdie was an accomplished and internationally recognized scholar, with particularly  strong ties to Québec. Her in-depth research on the Grande Bibliothèque of Québec resulted in published works on libraries and cultural identity. She was an active member of the Burlington Italian Club and the Alliance Française Lake Champlain Region Chapter.

Birdie leaves behind a powerful and passionate legacy as a steward of Vermont history. Through projects funded by the National Endowment for  the Humanities, she helped to ensure preservation copies and digital access for Vermont’s historic newspapers. Most recently, she served as Project Director and Principal Investigator for the Vermont Digital Newspaper Project, securing multiple rounds of funding and overseeing the creation of 250,000 pages of digital content, much of which is now available on the Library of Congress Chronicling America website.

Birdie was a devoted colleague and mentor, dedicated to serving students, faculty, staff, and librarians-in-training. She was compassionate, generous, and supportive to all who knew her. She will be profoundly missed in the faculty and staff of the University Libraries and as a valuable faculty member at the University of Vermont. She is survived by her sister Anne MacLennan Perkins, her niece Dominika Perkins, and her brother-in-law Donald Perkins of Nantucket, Massachusetts.

The Libraries are establishing a fund to further Birdie’s work preserving Vermont’s newspapers and will create a local digital collection in her name. Checks can be made payable to the UVMFoundation and directed to the UVM Libraries, in honor of Birdie MacLennan (The University of Vermont Foundation, 411 Main St., Burlington, VT 05401).

– Mara Saule, Chief Information Officer and Dean of University Libraries and Learning Resources

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The past year and what has been happening – a lot!

Mid-winter greetings from Finland, with snow and ice. It is a good time to take a little break and to sum up the advancement in 2013. 

The IFLA Newspapers Section has been busy as a bee this year, maintaining its active status.

 Singapore – the information oriented lion on a white beach

The Satellite Meeting in Singapore in August was a success with a crowd of participants and quality content, as well as great venues – with e.g. views over the city from the top of the Singapore National Library Building. Many countries would have a lot to learn from the way Singapore has brought information society into the lives of all the citizens. It was amazing to see how intensively the Singaporeans – and not just the young – were connected to mobile devices on the move, in the metro, in the streets, using content. You can look at the photographs of the Satellite Meeting in Flickr (

 In Singapore the chair and secretary posts were recycled. Frederick Zarndt, former chair, is now secretary for the section.

 Organising: Conference in Salt Lake City, Satellite Meeting in Geneva and Open Session in IFLA Lyon

Since the Meeting two organizing committees have been working for organizing the major events of the section in 2014:

• the International Newspapers Conference Salt Lake City, USA, ( and

• the Satellite Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, (

with the local organizing partners: Family Search (USA) and International Telecommunications Union (CH).

 The Call for Papers for IFLA Lyon Newspapers Open Session is also open at the moment. You can find all the information regarding the Calls for Papers on and via the IFLA Newspapers website (

 Project proposal: digitization training in Asia

In the autumn the Section submitted a project proposal to IFLA: “Digitization, Digitization Project Management, and Digital Preservation Basics: A Workshop for Librarians”. The Section is planning two digitization training sessions in India and Malaysia. We are looking forward to the response of the IFLA HQ.

 Thank you and happy holidays

Thank you to all of you who have supported the work of the section by working as officer, in the different organizing committees, by spreading information or in our local organizing partners. The Newspapers Section has an Executive Committee meeting virtually about once a month. We are trying to cope with the timezones stretching from one corner of the world to the other! Special thanks to Frederick, as well as to Cally and Mazelan, our information coordinators since autumn. Please join the LinkedIn group of the Section:

 Looking very much forward to working with you next year and wishing you a great holiday season, Christmas time and a Happy New Year! 

Minna Kaukonen
Chair, IFLA Newspapers Section
Head of Planning, Centre for Preservation and Digitisation, The National Library of Finland


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