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Newspaper access policy

The State Library Victoria maintains a comprehensive collection of Victorian newspapers and a selective range of interstate and overseas newspapers. Access to original issues may be limited to ensure their preservation.

The newspaper access policy outlines which newspapers are available and how they can be accessed.

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 until microfilms or digital files of these newspapers have been received (usually within three months of publication).

When the Library receives only one copy of a Victorian newspaper, that copy is freely available for a minimum of three months from the date of receipt and thereafter becomes part of the archival collection.

Interstate and overseas newspapers are freely available in the Herald and Weekly Times Newspapers and Helen Macpherson Smith Trust Family History Reading Rooms for up to three months after date of receipt and thereafter become part of the archival collection.

The Library discards current interstate and overseas newspapers once the microfilm copies have been received. The one exception is The Australian, where the Melbourne edition is retained.

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.

All archival newspapers must be read under supervision in the Heritage Collections Reading Room. Access to archival newspapers will only be provided when the required information cannot be obtained from a less vulnerable source. When microfilms and facsimiles of original newspapers are available, users are required to use these rather than the originals. When microfilms and facsimiles are not available, newspapers in a reasonable condition (conservation category 1: see definitions below) are available without restriction for the following date ranges:

  • post-1980 Victorian
  • post-1960 interstate and overseas

Access to short runs of archival newspapers

For pre-1980 Victorian and pre-1960 interstate and overseas newspapers, and for newspapers in fragile condition, access may be provided to users who supply the date of an event or item. Library users who are given permission to examine newspapers for a specific event are required to confine their search to one month of a daily newspaper or three months of a weekly or bi-weekly newspaper.

Access to longer runs of original newspapers

Access to longer runs of pre-1980 Victorian and pre-1960 interstate and overseas newspapers, and to newspapers in fragile condition (conservation categories 2 and 3: see definitions below), may be provided to the following users:

  • Those whose work is intended to be published and reach a large number of people. Such persons are required to furnish their bona fides, such as a written authorisation from the publishing body, guaranteeing future distribution of the published work, evidence of previous publication or the names of two appropriate referees such as academics or others who have published in the field.
  • Researchers who undertake research in the course of their professional duties. The names of two appropriate referees, or other evidence of a relevant role or position in an organisation, will be required before access is granted.
  • Academic staff members of tertiary institutions who are undertaking research. Presentation of evidence of the position held and of the applicant's research requirements will be required.
  • Postgraduate students working on theses. A letter of recommendation from their supervisors must be presented.
  • Fourth year honours students, or students of equivalent status working on their dissertations, and third year honours students doing preparatory work for their dissertations. These students must produce a letter of recommendation from their supervisor.
  • Representatives of organisations including historical societies, clubs and schools may have access to relevant local newspapers if they are compiling records on behalf of the organisation and intend to make their research available to other members. An official letter from the organisation will be required before access is granted.

Applying to access archival newspapers

Library users can apply online for access to archival newspapers. You can apply:

  • online
  • in person at the Herald and Weekly Times Newspapers Reading Room information desk, or
  • by mail to: Newspaper Team, State Library Victoria, 328 Swanston Street, Melbourne VIC 3000.

Users will be notified within one week of the results of their application for access to original newspapers. Users may apply in writing to the customer services manager for reconsideration, should their request for a volume be denied.

Rare newspapers

The rare newspaper collection includes important early Victorian, interstate and overseas newspapers. Access to rare newspapers is provided to users who would also be given access to longer runs of original newspapers.

Fragile newspapers

The Library reserves the right to withhold access to newspapers in very fragile condition (conservation category 4: see definition below), until measures have been taken to ensure the preservation of their content.


Public copying of unbound current newspapers is permitted. Copying of archival newspapers can be performed on a deferred basis by staff on behalf of readers.

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.

Conservation categories

1. Paper stock sound, text block intact, bindings (if present) sound.

2. Paper stock showing early stages of deterioration, and/or the text block has pages of differing sizes.

3. Text block not intact, and bindings are damaged, partially or fully detached. Paper stock, text block or bindings at risk of further damage if browsed.

4. Paper stock brittle and/or extensively torn. Bindings offer no support or protection. Item may present as a folded parcel.