Newsbank, a collection of digitised and searchable primary sources available in the UP Library, had a record number of hits in September 2021 totalling 21 177, an all time UP high!
Professor Karen Harris, Head of the Department of the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies, in collaboration with the Director of the Department of Library Services, Ms Lindiwe Soyizwapi, subject reference librarian Ms Alett Nell, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Professor Vasu Reddy and Vice Principal Academic, Prof Norman Duncan, acquired Newsbank after much negotiation towards the end of 2019.
The collection is an invaluable resource for teaching and research at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, as well as scholarly transdisciplinary research.
The acquisition of this resource was doubly fortuitous with the onset of Covid-19 restrictions as students and staff who were not able to access the University’s on-campus libraries or national archives, now had a digital searchable resource with primary material at their disposal.
The collection includes: African Newspapers: The British Library Collection; African Newspapers series 1 (1800-1922) and series 2 (1835-1925); the Sunday Times Digital Archive (1906-2006); Apartheid: Global Perspectives (1946-1996); and the Rand Daily Mail, 1902-1985.
Leading southern African historian and NRF A-rated professor at the University, Professor, Charles van Onselen, has worked with this material before and stated that:
“I cannot stress sufficiently how central a resource these databases are for a modern scholar and post-graduate students at a time when the original newspaper collections are often either disintegrating, incomplete or inaccessible for whatever reason. No reputable university should be without access to these data bases.”
This year Prof Harris introduced a group work assignment in her first-year history module (GES 120) where students had to search and make use of articles downloaded from the Newsbank collection.
The digitisation of primary source materials, and the accessibility thereof, means that students from first year are exposed to these invaluable sources, thereby broadening their knowledge and skillsets much earlier than was previously possible.
Newsbank can be accessed via the Library’s website by staff and students of all Faculties.