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Bid launched to save newspaper archive featuring almost 1,000 titles

A library is appealing for help to save its archive collection of almost 1,000 different newspaper titles from falling to bits.

The National Library of Scotland has launched the fundraising appeal to carry out “essential conservation and preservation work”, warning around two-thirds of the newspapers in its archives risk being lost otherwise.

The collection, which dates from as early as 1641, comprises 961 titles from all over Scotland and features rare editions such as the first copy of The Scotsman, pictured, from 1817.

But conservators say they are fighting a losing battle to keep the “frgaile and brittle” collection of newspapers from disintegrating.

Scotsman 1817

Conservator Claire Hutchinson, who is working on the most at-risk papers said: “Our history is in our newspapers and they are the most requested items in our collections. But our newspaper collections are incredibly fragile and very brittle.

“We’re fighting a losing battle to carry out preservation work.

“There are limits to what we can achieve, but I can repair tears and treat paper so it can be digitised. We’re also working with local libraries to carry out conservation work on their collections.

“These papers have local histories that aren’t recorded anywhere else. This is such important work.”

Award-winning crime writer Val McDermid regularly uses the Edinburgh-based library’s collections for research.

She said: “But it’s not just writers of fiction for whom the newspaper archive is a vital resource.

“Historians, cultural commentators, investigative journalists – they all rely on this valuable resource to paint a picture of our past as it was experienced by the people who lived it. Without it we are poorer as a nation.”