Nursing Information Subgroup / Libraries for Nursing Bulletin – Creating an online archive

HLG Nursing Bulletin Vol. 39 (3/4)

Phillip Barlow 
HLG Nursing Lead  

In 2016, HLG began an effort to set up a digital archive of the formerly print only NIS Newsletter and LfN Bulletin, the predecessors of today’s HLG Nursing Bulletin. This was a significant effort, with much of the work in the early period aimed at gathering the print issues dating back to the beginning of NIS Newsletter in 1981, followed by digitising them. Obtaining back issues was a drawn-out process that involved appeals via HLG’s social media platforms and JISCMail mailing lists. At the time that we were asking for copies of print issues, many libraries were in the process of removing large print journal runs, and were happy to send what they had of NIS Newsletter and LfN Bulletin to us, while individual that were members of Libraries for Nursing, and who had a collection of Bulletins that they were looking to dispose of for space reasons also got in touch to offer their collections. This allowed the building of a sizeable initial digital collection, with issues primarily from the 1990s and 2010s the main periods that were obtained. Thus, in early 2017, we were able to launch the first iteration of the digital archive, via the old CILIP website. This collection was gradually expanded as, following further appeals, more missing issues became available to digitise. However, this first version was primitive, as it featured PDF scans of whole issues that were neither searchable nor divided into individual articles. While achieving this was an ambition for the project, it was a long-term goal for which a platform that provided significantly more flexibility was required.  

Fast forward to 2020 and, during the first COVID-19 lockdown, HLG began getting to grips with the use of WordPress as a platform for the provision of its online presence. HLG had set up a WordPress site in 2019 with a plan to migrate much of its content there, including utilising it for the publication of HLG Newsletter. The flexibility of WordPress as a publishing platform, combined with evidence of its use as a repository, led to a new energy in the Bulletin digital archive project to move it towards a second phase. This was added to when a large number of print issues were made available from Anglia Ruskin University, which yielded a total of nine issues that were still missing from the digital collection. These nine issues completed the run from 1991 to the end of LfN Bulletin as a print publication in 2014.  

With the availability of a complete run, having no gaps, over an almost 25-year period, we are now looking to begin the migration of the digital archive over to WordPress. Again, this will be a process consisting of several stages, with initially whole issues made available as PDFs. The aim of this stage will be to make them at the very least browsable by including the table of contents with each issue. At the same time, we will experiment with making individual articles available through the digital archive, both as web pages and PDF downloads. The plan will be to upload later issues in the two formats, as these are immediately available as Word documents that can be easily transferred over to Wordpress and saved and uploaded as PDF files. A longer-term aim is to make individual articles from older issues, which are not accessible as Word documents, available. For this, we will look at screen grabbing individual pages of articles, which will then be downloaded into Word documents (ensuring that the images are sized appropriately for A4), with each individual article then saved as a PDF that can be uploaded to WordPress. We have undertaken tests of both processes, using some of the earliest and latest issues, the results of which can be accessed using the links below:  

This is an exciting project, but it is also one that will require a significant amount of work. While the digitisation of all the available issues is complete, the conversion work for the long-term aim of making every article available individually will be extensive. Additionally, we still need to obtain a sizeable portion of the collection from the 1980s to complete the archive:  

Year  Volume  Missing issues  
1981  1  All issues  
1982  2  All issues  
1983  3  All issues  
1985  5  All issues  
1986  6  All issues  
1987  7  All issues  
1988  8  All issues  
1990  10  All issues  

What we are doing is the first step in a long process that we are looking forward to undertaking. Key an eye open for future updates about the project, including how you may be able to help see it through to completion.  

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