How to find newspapers

How to find current, historical and online newspapers

Accessing Newspapers

Accessing newspapers

State Library Victoria maintains a comprehensive collection of Victorian newspapers and a selective range of interstate newspapers. Access to original issues may be limited to ensure their preservation. Many current and historical newspapers are now available via the Library’s databases. To access most eresources from home, you need to be a Victorian resident with a current membership.

Current newspapers

Current newspapers are available for reading in the Herald and Weekly Times Newspapers Reading Room. Printed copies of the Melbourne daily newspapers, The Age and The Herald-Sun are freely available in the Library and digital versions are available through the Library’s databases. Many current Victorian and interstate newspapers are also accessible via the National Edeposit (NED) database.

When the Library receives only one paper copy of a Victorian newspaper, that copy becomes part of the archival collection and will become available once accessioning procedures are complete.

Archival newspapers

The archival collection, comprising original copies of all Victorian newspapers together with original copies of interstate and overseas newspapers, is held in off-site storage.

Access to archival newspapers will only be provided when the required information cannot be obtained from a less vulnerable source. If the paper is available on microfilm or online, or in another format, the patron must use these. When microfilms and facsimiles are not available, archival newspapers are available to request.

Archival papers are ordered by Library staff on behalf of the patron. Patrons are requested to narrow down the date range of their research as much as possible, to help preserve the originals. Open ended, ongoing browsing is not permitted; patrons will require an end point to their research, and to demonstrate some defined research outcome or objective.

All archival newspapers must be read under supervision in the Heritage Collections Reading Room. The quantity of newspapers which can be ordered for each delivery is subject to limitations based on transportation capacity, space in the reading room and the safe handling of material policies. Staff will advise of the delivery times at the time of ordering the newspapers.  

In order to protect the collection, SLV staff can refuse usage of any material if in their judgement it is not safe to handle that material.

Rare newspapers

The rare newspaper collection includes important early Victorian, interstate and overseas newspapers. These will only be retrieved when there is no other copy of the requested paper available.

Fragile newspapers

The Library reserves the right to withhold access to newspapers in very fragile condition until measures have been taken to ensure the preservation of their content.


If the original newspaper and the microform copy are both held by the Library, copies must be taken from the microform version. In cases where copies are required for publication or display, photographic services are available. Patrons are not permitted to order in originals to take a ‘better copy’ of what already appears in film, online or in a less vulnerable source.

If the paper is not available in another format, patrons may take photos of the original using their personal copying device, such as their phone, and in accordance with the Copyright Act. Personal scanners, or any device that touches the newspaper, are not permitted. Tripods, lights and other photographic equipment cannot be set up in the Heritage Collections Reading Room.

Patrons can use the photocopier in the Heritage Collections Reading Room to copy unbound newspapers if they are in good condition and provided the paper sits on the photocopier without over-hang. Photocopying of bound and / or fragile or rare newspapers is not permitted. Patrons may take photos of these using their personal copying device or copying can be performed on a deferred basis by staff on behalf of readers.



Conservation categories

In the Library catalogue entry of some newspapers, you may notice the note ‘Conservation Category’. This refers to the condition of the newspaper for the nominated years. The note will appear like this:
'Conservation category 3. Damaged: 1969-1970.'
'Conservation category 4. 1919'

The categories alert newspapers users (both Library staff and public) to the condition of the nominated years - the lower the number, the better the condition. For newspapers, there are four categories:

Conservation category 1: Frail

Conservation category 2. Fragile

Conservation category 3. Damaged

Conservation category 4. Use with extreme caution

Many of our earlier Victorian newspapers are bound, though not all. Often the entire year is classified as 'fragile' - but sometimes it is only some issues within the volume. Sadly, many of these fragile issues are untreatable. Newspapers were published on thin paper and were not designed to last very long.

The Library has treated and repaired fragile papers where possible.  These papers can be ordered; however, users may need to adjust their handling technique to suit the condition of the paper.  Staff in the Heritage Collections Reading Room (where the papers are viewed) may need to assess if the paper can be viewed - and will assist users to view and handle the material as required.