We aim to acquire all newspapers published in the United Kingdom and in the Republic of Ireland, and our collections of newspapers from the British Isles are the finest in the world
About the collection
We hold over 34,000 titles from the UK and overseas, or 60 million individual issues. The newspaper collection includes the ongoing legal deposit collection of UK and Irish newspapers.
The collection was founded on two special collections of early English newspapers: the Thomason Tracts which contains newspapers and news-books from the English Civil War period and the Burney Collection of newspapers 1603-1818, collected by the Revd Doctor Charles Burney (1757-1817).
The collection of British newspapers is fairly comprehensive from the 1840s onwards.
Since 1869 British and Irish newspapers have been received through legal deposit by which publishers are required to send one copy of each issue to the British Library. The collection includes full runs of the main London edition of all the British national daily and Sunday newspapers. Most daily and weekly provincial newspapers are also held including some from the early 18th century onwards.
Newspapers are acquired selectively from overseas, in English and other European languages. This includes an extensive collection of newspapers from Commonwealth countries which were formerly received through colonial copyright deposit.
Currently about 1,500 UK and Irish newspaper titles are received on a daily or weekly basis, and nearly 100 titles from overseas.
The newspapers are held in print form (over 660,000 volumes, boxes or parcels of newspapers), as microfilm copies (630,000 reels), and as digital copies (7.5 million digitised pages).
What is available online?
Digitised newspapers can be viewed online via the British Newspaper Archive, a site developed in partnership with DC Thomson Family History, which has newspapers from across the UK, primarily for the 19th century but with a growing number of issues from the first half of the 20th century. Searching is free, but to view the newspapers requires a personal subscription. The BNA can be viewed for free in our Reading Rooms.
We subscribe to a range of electronic newspaper resources including major UK national and international newspapers. A full listing of the titles available can be found at www.bl.uk/eresources/main.shtml.