How to find newspapers

How to find current, historical and online newspapers

Newspaper formats

Newspapers can be found across a variety of formats. The three most common formats are print, microfilm and electronic, which are usually accessible online. Another format is newspapers in CD-ROM or DVD format. These are usually only available on computers in the Library Reading Rooms.

Runs of newspapers may be partially in one format and partially in another. Understanding the format of a newspaper is important. The format will determine what type of access there is and what type of copies can be obtained. The Locations section on a newspaper catalogue record will indicate the various locations where different formats of the newspaper are kept in the Library.

Print format

The Library keeps print copies of all Victorian newspapers. Print copies of a wide range of Australian and international newspapers are also held. Historical print collections of major Australian newspapers, mostly before the 1980s are held. However since the 1980s print copies of major Australian newspapers have only been kept for a short time, usually three months, after this they are replaced by microfilm copies.

Print copies of selected international newspapers are retained on a permanent basis.

Older print copies, pre-1991, are in bound volumes. All newspapers since 1991 have been kept as loose issues in archival boxes. The use of older print copies of newspapers is in accordance with the Newspaper Access Policy.

Microfilm format

Newspapers in microfilm format have been copied from the original print copies to a miniaturized micro version. They are normally copied to reels of 35mm film, and sometimes to microfiche. The newspapers are reduced in size by about 25 times from the original page size. Microfilm copies are made as safe to use duplicate copies to preserve the original copies which are vulnerable to damage. Paper print outs and digital files saved to USB drives can be obtained from microfilm newspapers. Microfilm newspapers are listed in Library catalogue records with a NM prefix.

All Victorian and Australian newspapers in microfilm are available for use in the Newspapers and Family History Reading Rooms.

Electronic format

Newspapers in electronic or digital format are usually in one of four forms:

Virtual replicas

These are fully digitized virtual replicas of original printed editions, see for example Historic Australian Newspapers.

Online text file databases

These contain all the main news reports in text or html style documents. They do not contain the original page layout, columns, pictures or any advertisements or notices. See Proquest Australia and New Zealand Newsstream for example.

Newspapers in CD-ROM or DVD

These are very similar to text file databases except they are not usually accessible online through the Internet. They are normally available on computers in Library Reading Rooms. See for example the Age Multi-Year CD-ROM.

Newspapers in PDF format on CD-ROM or DVD

Newspapers in this format are replicas of original print editions of newspapers. They usually do not have Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. This means they cannot be searched by keywords. Researchers must browse page by page to find wanted items. See Australian Periodical Publications 1840-1845 as an example of this format.

Preserving your newspapers

Our conservation team has written this guide to advice on storing and conserving newspapers. There are other guides for other formats too, such as books and photographs, as well as advice on dealing with pests.

Databases explained

Newspapers in electronic or digital format are usually in one of four forms:

Virtual Replicas
These are fully digitized virtual replicas of original printed editions, see for example Historic Australian Newspapers

Online Text File Databases
These contain all the main news reports in text or html style documents. They do not contain the original page layout, columns, pictures or any advertisements or notices. See Proquest Australia and New Zealand Newsstream for example.

Newspapers in CD-ROM or DVD
These are very similar to text file databases except they are not usually accessible online through the Internet.

They are normally available on computers in Library Reading Rooms. See for example Melbourne Age Multi Year CD-ROM.

Newspapers in PDF format on CD-ROM or DVD
Newspapers in this format are replicas of original print editions of newspapers. They usually do not have Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. This means they cannot be searched by keywords.

Researchers must browse page by page to find wanted items. See Australian Periodical Publications 1840-1845 as an example of this format.