Xiao Lu, one of our digitisation assistants, updates us on a project to digitise Leeds student newspapers.

At the beginning of 2018 Special Collections launched a project to complete the digitisation of our student newspapers.  Leeds students have a long tradition of producing a newspaper dating from 1 Dec 1897 when the first issue of ‘The Gryphon’ was published.

‘The Gryphon’ was officially known as a journal and with dimensions of 22 x 28 cm it was small compared to the current student newspaper.  It had richly coloured covers and the early ones were beautifully decorated in an Arts and Crafts style.  ‘The Gryphon’ finished in 1961.

The Gryphon
Front cover of ‘The Gryphon’ March 1903. Image credit Leeds University Library.

In September 1970, students launched a new newspaper the ‘Leeds Student’.  Ken Russell’s film ‘Tommy’ was one of the main topics of the arts pages in October 1975.  Leeds Playhouse was staging ‘Catch 22’, an adaptation of the book by Joseph Heller.  Fast forward thirty five years and in October 2010 ‘Leeds Student’ reported on students storming a Channel 4 news broadcast made by Jon Snow from the refectory.  The students were protesting about course fees.  The ‘Leeds Student’ changed its name to ‘The Gryphon’ in 2014.

Leeds Student
Front cover of the ‘Leeds Student’ 15 October 2010. Image credit Leeds University Library.

Creating digital images of these newspapers is a multi-process task.  For the Project the Digitisation Team uses the studio’s Atiz book scanner to digitise the newspapers.  Firstly we create a profile calibrated for our camera with ColorChecker software.  This profile is essential as it enables us to reproduce colour images true to the original objects.  The images are renamed in XnView using cataloguing metadata.

Next the team import the images into Adobe Lightroom and apply the calibrated camera profile to them.  We crop and process the TIFF images, apply checksums and make a copy of each one in pdf format in Adobe Acrobat.  Quality Control examines the finished work before the team run the images and metadata through an ingestion script to make them ready to view online.

By the end of June the Digitisation Team had digitised all the ’Leeds Student’ newspapers which amounts to over 4,400 images.  In July we moved on to digitising ‘The Gryphon’. Over 7,000 pages are waiting to be digitised by the end of February next year.

It is a fantastic experience digitising the newspapers. We see the development of the newspaper, the quality of the paper, the changes in content, style, colour,and trends.  We hope that you will enjoy browsing and reading them.