Abstract: Is really nothing as old and unimportant as yesterday’s newspaper? – The newspaper and newspaper clippings collection of the Herder Institute facing both old and new challenges


Jürgen Warmbrunn, Deputy Director and Board Member, Herder-Institut Marburg (Germany)

The Herder Institute in Marburg and its research library are dedicated to providing reliable and sustainable research infrastructures for both academics and the general public interested in the history (the term being understood very broadly) of East Central Europe, i.e. the Czech and Slovak Republics, Poland, and the Baltic states. As part of this long-standing mission the library has been collecting newspapers from and about East Central Europe with – in the heydays of the department formerly responsible – about 300 running subscriptions. Furthermore the institute maintained until the late 1990s a press clippings service resulting in an archive of far more than 5 million clippings.

The paper will highlight the challenges the library today faces with regard to this – in both quantitative and qualitative aspects – outstanding, if not even unique collection. While it is the library’s statuary task to make its holdings locally, nationally and internationally as widely available as possible, German copyright legislation has for a long time made this more and more difficult. In 2018, however, the dilemma challenging the library in this regard was intensified even more. On the one hand the library implemented a challenging and in both technical and library terms innovative project to digitize its newspaper cuttings, on the other hand it was at the same time confronted with a reform to German copyright law, which – while bringing decided advances in other areas – makes the lending of both newspapers and so-called “public interest journals” to anyone not physically present in the library practically impossible. The paper will not only describe this dilemma in more detail but also explore some of the measures that might help to overcome it.