Tim Sherratt

Sharing recent updates and work-in-progress

Apr 2024

Getting to know NED – born-digital periodicals in Trove

I spend a lot of my time trying to highlight the wealth of resources available through Trove – whether that’s 25,000 digitised Parliamentary Papers, 6,000 oral histories you can listen to online, or 3,471 full-page editorial cartoons from The Bulletin. Most recently I’ve been working on digitised periodicals, developing a new section for the Trove Data Guide. But as I was harvesting data about the 900 periodicals and 37,000 issues that had so far been digitised, I wondered about periodicals that were born digital – in particular, those that had been submitted to the National Library by publishers and authors through the National eDeposit Scheme (NED). It turns out, there’s a lot more than I realised.

I’ve added a new notebook to the Trove Periodicals section of the GLAM Workbench that harvests data about NED periodicals, and created a new dataset with lists of titles and issues. You can also explore the harvested data using Datasette-Lite. But here’s a quick overview.

There are at least 7,973 born-digital periodicals contributed through NED, comprising a total of 156,151 issues!

Screenshot of Trove displaying the Palm Island Voice, one of the NED periodicals

One of the 428 issues of the Palm Island Voice

What are they? Here’s the twenty titles with the most issues.

title_id title issues
nla.obj-1916881555 Western Australian government gazette. 1869
nla.obj-2940864261 The Australian Jewish News. 1067
nla.obj-2692666983 APSjobs-vacancies daily … daily gazette. 1043
nla.obj-2945379691 Tweed link 825
nla.obj-2541626239 Weekly notice 798
nla.obj-2940863963 The Australian Jewish News. 726
nla.obj-1252109725 Queensland Health services bulletin 700
nla.obj-1247944368 Hyden Karlgarin Householder News. 642
nla.obj-1775015332 E-record : your news from across the Archdioce… 640
nla.obj-638303044 Class ruling 580
nla.obj-2536144595 Plantagenet news. 574
nla.obj-1252305285 Clermont rag : Community newspaper. 514
nla.obj-2815835489 The Apollo Bay news. 513
nla.obj-1908935587 Assessment reports and exam papers 512
nla.obj-3125539859 The Peninsula community access news. 506
nla.obj-2859788676 Council news : weekly information from us to you 469
nla.obj-1252119874 Rot-Ayr-Ian [electronic resource] : the offici… 467
nla.obj-2994765231 Townsville Orchid Society Inc. bulletin. 442
nla.obj-1252246096 Palm Island Voice. 428
nla.obj-3267060622 News & views from George Cochrane. 399

These are born-digital, so they’re not images and OCRd text like the digitised periodicals and newspapers. Most of them are PDFs as we can see from the metadata.

format number of issues
application/pdf 154,976
not specified 1,075
application/epub+zip 100

Not all NED periodicals can be viewed online. Publishers submitting periodicals through NED can place restrictions on access, specifying that that the publications can only be viewed on-site in a library. The three access categories are:

  • Unrestricted – you can view online and download
  • View Only – you can view online but not download
  • Onsite Only – you can only view when onsite at the designated libraries

Fortunately, the vast majority are Unrestricted.

Access status Number of issues
Unrestricted 138,557
View Only 12,937
Onsite Only 4,657

One of the most important things about the digitised newspaper corpus is its diversity – it’s not just the metropolitan dailies, but many local, community, political, and religious newspapers as well. While local newspapers might be dying out in their traditional form, electronic publications are popping up. Look at the titles in the list above – the Apollo Bay News, the Palm Island Voice – while current historians mine the digitised newspapers for fragments of everyday life, future historians will be grateful for what’s being captured and preserved by NED.

But wait there’s more! Since 1996, the Australian Web Archive (previously Pandora) has been capturing online periodicals. My next task is to harvest some details of these as well.