The Na­tional Li­brary of Ire­land

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Long be­fore digi­ti­sa­tion was an op­tion, just know­ing what was pub­lished in Ire­land in the first place was half the bat­tle in lo­cat­ing po­ten­tially use­ful pub­li­ca­tions for re­search. In the 1980s, a ma­jor Bri­tish Isles project called NEWSPLAN, led by the Bri­tish Li­brary and ad­di­tional part­ners, in­clud­ing the Na­tional Li­brary of Ire­land, set it­self the aim of cat­a­logu­ing what was known to ex­ist, and to make much of the con­tent avail­able on mi­cro­film to par­tic­i­pat­ing li­braries.

As a re­sult, the Na­tional Li­brary of Ire­land ( NLI) web­site now hosts an on­line search tool, the News­pa­per Data­base, which al­lows users to iden­tify what is avail­able both at the li­brary it­self in Dublin and at other Ir­ish li­braries beyond the cap­i­tal. Lo­cated at www.nli.ie/en/cat­a­logue­sand- data­bases-printed-news­pa­pers.aspx, the data­base per­mits users to search by the name of a ti­tle, a town or city, or by county. A search for County Sligo, for ex­am­ple, will re­veal 15 ti­tles for the county held at the li­brary. Ex­plor­ing the re­sults gives more in­for­ma­tion – if you click on the Sligo In­de­pen­dent, it tells me that the pa­per was known as the Sligo In­de­pen­dent from 29 September 1855 to September 1921, and then as the Sligo In­de­pen­dent and West of Ire­land Ad­ver­tiser un­til it ceased pub­li­ca­tion in 1961. It also iden­ti­fies which is­sues are held on mi­cro­film, and which as hard copies.

If you now re­peat the search but click on the op­tion marked ‘In­clude ti­tles from the Newsplan Project not held by the NLI’, you will find 16 ti­tles listed in the re­turn, in­stead of 15. Although the NLI holds the Sligo Chron­i­cle from 1851-1893, it turns out that Sligo County Li­brary holds copies of a sep­a­rate news­pa­per of the same name, which ran from 1896-99, and which can­not be ac­cessed in Dublin.

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