The supposed universal library, then, will be not a seamless mass of books, easily linked and studied together, but a patchwork of interfaces and databases, some open to anyone with a computer and WiFi, others closed to those without access or money. The real challenge now is how to chart the tectonic plates of information that are crashing into one another and then to learn to navigate the new landscapes they are creating… Soon, the present will become overwhelmingly accessible, but a great deal of older material may never coalesce into a single database… Though the distant past will be more available, in a technical sense, than ever before, once it is captured and preserved as a vast, disjointed mosaic it may recede ever more rapidly from our collective attention.
2. The Guardian and Observer Newspapers Archive (to 1975 at present) is up and running.
This is the first time a UK national newspaper’s print archive has been available through its website. Previously, the only way to explore newspaper archives was by laboriously searching newsprint pages, stored on microfilm and in bound copies. Our ambitious digitisation project involved scanning every page from microfilm, segmenting each page into article clippings and then making them searchable.
It’s a pay-for service, unfortunately, but there is a 24-hour free trial, and a variety of individual purchasing options. (The Guardian Unlimited archive, ie the archive of the online version of the newspaper since 1999, will continue to be available free of charge, according to the FAQ.)