Our lockdown year reminded me how lucky we are to have Trove and digitised newspapers online. For those of us who fiddled with microfilm readers and squinted at black screens over the years, more searchable Trove can't come soon enough.
There are more than 10,000 years worth of out-of-copyright microfilmed Victorian newspapers at State Library Victoria yet to be digitised to Trove. These almost extinct local newspapers regularly reported domestic details that provide gems which enliven our family stories and which may prove to be our only link to past lives.
In 2017 a campaign was mounted to digitise to Trove 35 years of five microfilmed, out-of-copyright newspapers of the Knox and Dandenong Ranges area. Through the efforts of the Dandenong Ranges Historical Council, an umbrella group of four historical societies, a heritage trust and a local action group, all five local newspapers were successfully digitised on Trove.
Following this success, a campaign headed 'More Trove for Vic' (see WEBSITE) has been launched to encourage the Victorian Government to provide more funding so that more Victorian newspapers can be digitised and made searchable on Trove. 'More Trove for Vic' has put up an e-petition on the Victorian Parliament website and is encouraging historically-minded people to support it.
Based on the State Library Victoria's summary of holdings of microfilmed newspapers there are more than 10,000 years worth of out-of-copyright microfilmed newspapers from 71 Victorian municipalities yet to be digitised to Trove - 26 of these municipalities have more than 85% of their microfilmed newspapers yet to be digitised to Trove.
'More Trove for Vic' calculates that at the rate achieved in 2018-19 it would take nearly 180 years to digitise just the microfilmed newspapers of the more than 870 newspapers published in 216 towns and communities in 71 municipalities across Victoria. But if the Victorian Government commits to funding a dedicated mass-digitisation of Victoria's historical newspapers then this could be completed in 3 years. The microfilmed newspapers could be digitised for as little as 80c per Victorian per year for three years and this would benefit 71 municipalities.
You can view and sign the petition here: follow the prompts at https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/council/petitions/electronic-petitions/view-e-petitions/details/12/299
You must be a resident of Victoria to sign. You can read more information about how petitions to Parliament work on the Parliament's website.
The CLOSING DATE for this petition is 30 May 2021. After that it may be tabled by a Member of the Legislative Council and will then be referred to the relevant Minister.
Obviously the more signatures the better!
Campaign logo designed by Laura Renfrew, 2020.