The Sharing of Global Resources: Digital Access to German-Language Newspapers

by Amy Neeser, School of Information Studies, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee

As a distance education student working on my MLIS, I decided to gain some practical work experience in an academic library by doing a semester fieldwork at the University of Minnesota's Wilson Library. Working under the Western European Studies subject librarian, I am delighted to have the opportunity to fuse my undergraduate study of German with my graduate focus of information access and retrieval.

My main project is through the German-North American Resources Partnership (GNARP), which is one of the working projects of the Global Resources Network. It involves helping to collect the German-language newspaper holdings from various institutions – mostly academic libraries – and then compiling them into a wiki so each institution knows what others have available. Because the majority of these newspapers are old, sporadic, and often located in the forgotten stacks, they are not listed in major public catalogs such as WorldCat, and are thus not easy to find. GNARP has embarked on a mission to solve this problem by developing an index of historical German-language newspaper holdings regardless of their geographic location. The wiki format allows for professional collaboration on the project.

With much of the content provided by German subject librarians, I am organizing, cross-checking, and formatting the data in wiki markup, while also attending to the wiki’s design and usability. Holdings are arranged by city of publication and include the newspaper name, dates available, publication information, and an icon specifying if each item is in paper, microform, or open-access digital format. The majority of listings include a direct link to the individual holding record in each institution’s catalog. Making this data available in a centralized and accessible location is the first step to ultimately making these resources globally accessible.

The long-term goals of GNARP’s German-language newspaper wiki are to ease resource sharing, to facilitate collaboration in order to aid future digitization projects, and to allow these valuable materials to be accessed and used by anyone around the world. If you would like more information or to contribute to this project in any way, please contact Kate Brooks, chair of GNARP’s Collection Development Working Group.