Imagine this scene: It’s Friday, 4th March, 1960. The world renowned evangelist, Billy Graham is visiting the Copperbelt in Northern Rhodesia. He went to Katiki, a small village 20 miles from Kitwe. The morning paper is running a story about his visit to this little village. The article makes for interesting reading.
This is not science fiction, and it is not pure imagination. You can actually read this paper today, in 2011. You can almost smell the dust as you scan the paper for interesting headings.
Google has scanned thousands of news papers from the archives. Using Optical Character Recognition software, Google is able to read the text, thus making the content searchable in Google News. When you search for news items about Kitwe, for instance, you can use the Advanced Search feature to specify the dates you have in mind. Google will display the content with your search term highlighted. The content appears as a scanned page rather than a digitized version. This adds a nostalgic touch.
A minified image of the paper is displayed on the side. A little box that shows your current position on the page. You can drag the box cursor around to move across the enlarged page in the viewing window.
The archive also contains news from more modern online newspapers.
This facility helps researchers looking for information and anyone interested in past news articles by extending the search to articles that would otherwise be inaccessible. Information is no longer doomed to languish in dusty archives. The digital bug is slowly but surely devouring the analogue mountain of information and extruding it as easy to digest digital content.
Some of the content is available only to subscribers to the relevant papers, but quite a large proportion is available free of charge.
We have only recently discovered this facility and look forward to a fruitful participation in its enjoyment.
Share your experience with us on this forum. Leave your comments below.