In 2006 – in the context of the plan for digitizing the heritage of the federal scientific institutions – the Royal Library of Belgium received the instruction to digitize a representative selection 19th and 20th century Belgian newspapers (cost price: 4,5 million euro).
No less than 3.2 million pages from 70 Belgian newspapers from the years 1831-1950 are, starting from now, digitally available.
The benefits of digitizing newspapers are on one hand preservation: newspapers are published on very vulnerable paper. Once digitized there is no more need to manipulate the newspapers that much. On the other hand it becomes much easier to search in the newspapers, thanks to the OCR-technology (‘optical character recognition’).
The newspapers were chosen for their creation date, language, place of publication, ideological and philosophical orientation. 3.2 million pages seems to be a lot, but it is only 5% of the total number of newspapers of the Royal Library. Because of copyright, you only can consult the newspapers in a special room in the Library.