Newspaper collection

Our Newspaper collection is one of the largest in Australia, comprising Victorian, Australian and international material. There are nearly 100,000 volumes, 40,000 reels of microfilm, and a wide range of newspaper content available through online databases and other digital formats.

The collection includes general newspapers and many special interest newspapers such as sporting, rural, religious, financial, political and ethnic community. There is also a notable collection of illustrated newspapers.

We collect and preserve newspapers in accordance with the Australian Newspaper Plan (ANPlan), which was developed by the National & State Libraries Australasia.

The plan aims to preserve all Australian newspapers and ensure adequate access to them. Within ANPlan the Library places emphasis on Victoria.

Collection strengths

Victorian newspapers

The Library holds many early Victorian newspapers, including the earliest Victorian newspaper, the Melbourne Advertiser, which was first published in 1838.

There are some gaps in our holdings of Victorian newspapers from 1850 to 1880; however, since legal deposit began in February 1882, we've collected almost every newspaper published in Victoria.

Our collection includes all major Melbourne daily newspapers, Victorian community-language titles, special-interest newspapers and all suburban and country newspapers.

We try to collect at least two copies of every hard-copy newspaper published, including variant editions.

We also acquire Victorian newspapers in other formats, such as online, CD-ROM, photocopies, facsimile or microfilm. The Library holds a large number of Victorian newspapers in microfilm format.

Many Victorian newspapers published between 1838 and 1920 have been microfilmed, especially those published in Melbourne. Most major daily newspapers published in Melbourne after 1920 have been microfilmed.

Most regional centres and larger country town newspapers have also been microfilmed from the beginning of publication up to the 1960s or '70s.

Other Australian newspapers

Major national newspapers such as The Australian and the Australian Financial Review are collected.

Newspapers which are published by national organisations and contain information of relevance to Victoria or cover subject matters in which the Library has a specific interest are collected.

We also hold a substantial collection of newspapers from other Australian states, particularly southern New South Wales, Tasmania and northern Queensland.

Complete or substantial runs of capital city daily newspapers from all states and territories are held in hard copy and on microfilm. Some interstate newspapers are not held elsewhere and the Library retains the only known copies.

An extensive number of newspapers from major regional centres are held, although we no longer collect hard-copy interstate regional newspapers unless they are from areas close to Victoria's borders.

Print editions of interstate daily newspapers are acquired for use in the Family History & Newspaper Room.

Subscriptions to news databases also provide online access to interstate daily newspapers. Microfilm editions of these newspapers are also acquired. Once the microfilm arrives the hard-copy issues are discarded.

Hard-copy Victorian editions of interstate daily newspapers are retained.

Material collected

We selectively acquire interstate newspapers.

At least one major daily from each state or territory capital is acquired. Additional titles may be acquired where there is a significant variation in editorial comment or where other titles contain important information.

Newspapers from towns on or near Victorian borders and from Tasmania are acquired selectively.

Non-English language newspapers are acquired when there is a demand that cannot be met by the use of a Victorian newspaper or the paper is considered to be of national significance.

Selected newspapers are acquired in microfilm format. Guidelines for acquiring microfilm copies of newspapers produced by other organisations include:

  • newspapers published in Victoria
  • major interstate dailies already held by us or that hold particular relevance to the Library's collection
  • interstate newspapers that possess particular relevance to our collection

International newspapers

For current international newspapers, online access is generally provided instead of print editions.

We subscribe to current online newspaper sources and have acquired several significant collections of historical newspapers in electronic format, such as the 19th century British Library Newspapers.

Print editions of selected overseas newspapers are acquired depending on demand, quality and the availability of alternative online resources.

We hold an extensive number of overseas newspapers in print and microfilm formats, including particularly strong collections of newspapers originating in former British Commonwealth countries.

We have also acquired newspapers published in the United States, France, Germany and the former USSR.

The oldest newspapers held by the Library date from the 1640s. Very long runs of The Times (London), from 1785 onwards, and the New York Times, from 1851 to 2004, have been acquired on microfilm.

There are substantial collections of newspapers originating from the home countries of Victorian migrants – notably the Netherlands, Italy, Greece and Turkey – which were acquired between the 1950s and 2001.

We also have a large collection of titles from the Asia–Pacific region, which were acquired between the 1960s and 2005. Titles from Thailand, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and India feature strongly in this collection.

Material collected

The following factors are taken into account when considering the acquisition of international newspapers:

  • the significance of the title for researchers including, depth, coverage and integrity of reporting
  • the significance of the relevant country’s links to Victoria through historical ties, immigration or trade links
  • whether the title emanates from a capital city, is a national edition, has an index and is in English
  • the number of potential Victorian readers of non-English language newspapers

Newspaper indexes

We collect indexes for any newspapers published in Victoria.

For newspapers published outside Victoria, we only acquire indexes for newspapers that we already hold. An exception is newspaper indexes primarily intended as genealogical tools; these are extensively acquired.

Newspaper indexes are acquired regardless of format.

Material not generally collected

We don't collect newspapers published in languages not widely known within Victoria; however, some may be received on legal deposit.

We also don't collect microfilm sets of international newspapers or hard-copy editions of international newspapers if a suitable online alternative can be provided.