Call for Participation in the International Coalition on Newspapers (ICON)
Since 1999 the International Coalition on Newspapers (ICON) has supported the efforts of
U.S. and Canadian libraries to preserve newspapers from around the globe and make them
accessible to scholars and researchers. ICON reformats newspapers through microfilming and
digitization, creates bibliographic access, and provides information on institutional news holdings
through its Database of International Newspapers. ICON serves the global library and archive
community by focusing attention on the significance of news collections, identifying important atrisk
titles for preservation, and providing a central point of access to information essential for library
policy- and decision-makers on preservation, rights management and digitization of news resources.
Funding and support for ICON has come from the Center for Research Libraries (CRL), the
National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Additional, in-kind support is provided by a number of individual CRL institutions, such as Harvard
University, the University of California Berkeley, University of Connecticut, the University of
Illinois, and the University of Texas, and by the Library of Congress.
Today, ICON faces a host of new challenges. Media organizations now produce their news
content in digital environments, and deliver much of that content via the Web. As parent companies
like The New York Times and The Guardian distribute their "back files" directly through the Web,
libraries may not be able to rely on micropublishers like ProQuest, Cengage Gale, and Readex to
make today's news available in the future. At the same time libraries and research institutions face
difficult choices. They must allocate scarce resources between purchasing costly commercial
collections of digitized newspaper back files, investing in open access digitization of back files, and
continuing to maintain their print and microform holdings. These challenges are particularly
daunting with regard to non-English language news and news from regions of the world outside
North America and Western Europe.
To meet these challenges, ICON must now expand its efforts and its scope. It must do more
to help libraries find viable strategies to prevent loss of the record of world events that news has
always provided. Without prudent action by today's librarians future historians, researchers and
societies will suffer. ICON is a ready-made framework for such action.
Your participation in ICON can make a difference. In 2006-07 CRL increased its support for
ICON, and secured a new commitment of $350,000 from the NEH for the project. CRL also
initiated negotiations with electronic aggregators and publishers regarding systematic digitization of
legacy news content in print and microform held by CRL and several ICON partners. In addition
CRL began to report to the community on the digital holdings and archiving provisions of electronic
A project of the Center for Research Libraries, and partially funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
news providers such as LexisNexis and NewsBank, and Web harvesting services like the Internet
In 2007-08 CRL will bring the ICON program under the umbrella of its Global Resources
Network. The Network, largely supported by CRL member institutions, provides legal, financial,
strategic, and communications support for a range of programs that preserve and afford access to
important knowledge and historical and cultural evidence.
CRL invites major research libraries outside its membership to participate in the Global
Resources Network ICON program. Participants pay an initial, one-time contribution of
US$4500 and a subsequent annual subscription fee of $1500. These funds will augment the financial
support provided to this important program by CRL, its 242 U.S. and Canadian research libraries,
and its other funders.
Benefits of ICON Membership:
The benefits of participation in GRN ICON are as follows:
- Authoritative Data on Library Newspaper Collections of Record: The online ICON database
contains a wealth of trustworthy information on research library holdings of paper and
microform copies of world newspapers, information essential to local collection
development and preservation decision-making. The ICON Web site is a single point of
access to information about newspaper preservation and digitization projects, standards and
best practices for cataloging and preservation, and more.
- Evaluation of Electronic News Collections: GRN participants receive authoritative online reviews
of digital news collections, such as Access World News, The Times Digital Archives, LexisNexis,
and others through The Charleston Advisor. They also receive periodic CRL analyses of the
archiving provisions that publishers have in place for their electronic news resources.
- Global Resources Network Forums: Representatives of GRN member institutions are eligible to
participate in annual GRN conferences and planning workshops, identifying and examining
issues affecting preservation of news and other primary historical evidence and
documentation, and crafting strategies to address those issues.
- Collaboration and Governance: Representatives have online access to planning documents and
data and participate in online forums on news preservation. Members are also eligible to
serve on the ICON advisory committee, which charts the strategic directions of the project.
- Access to Digital News Content: Researchers at member institutions have on-line access to news
content digitized under the GRN ICON program. Member institutions are also eligible to
participate in cataloging, digitization and other preservation activities funded by the ICON
- Discounted Price on CRL Foreign Newspapers on Microfilm: GRN ICON members are able to
purchase preservation-quality microfilm of non-U.S. newspapers produced by CRL's Foreign
Newspaper Microfilm Project at a 35% discount.
Click here for a PDF version of this information and membership registration form.
For more information about ICON membership, please contact James Simon.