The National Library newspaper collection covers titles published from the mid- seventeenth century to the present day, with Irish titles serving as the primary focus of the collection. The Royal Dublin Society Library and the Joly Collection newspapers form the basis of the newspaper collection. The Joly collection provided a valuable file of early short run Irish newspapers and foreign newsheets. A major addition of 4,000 volumes to the collection came from an unusual source in 1922 when the Library received the files of the Chief Secretary's Office as Dublin Castle was handed over to the Irish administration. These files contained significant runs of provincial papers that had been used to gather information about subversive and political activity around the country.
The Industrial and Commercial Property (Protection) Act of 1927 gave the National Library legal deposit status for the first time, and a significant increase in complete files in the newspaper collection is evident from this time. Gaps in the historical files are currently being filled through the purchase of microfilms from the British Library.
The Library's policy is to collect all newspapers with substantial news content published in Ireland and Northern Ireland, including free newspapers. Selected titles from other countries are also collected. The Library receives more than 260 titles annually, totaling approximately 20,000 single issues per annum. These include national, provincial and local titles as well as newspapers distributed freely. The growing market of newspapers representing the interests of ethnic and special interest groups also are collected by the library, as well as Irish newspapers published abroad.
Most titles are acquired under legal deposit legislation, which states that a copy of each newspaper published in the State must be donated to the National Library. Northern Ireland newspapers however, are not covered by this legislation, but are received through donations or purchase. Such a broad collection programme ensures that the National Library of Ireland retains the most comprehensive collection of Irish newspapers in the country. For the purposes of preservation and ease of access, many of the titles will subsequently be acquired in microfilm format. However, despite this, the Library retains, files and stores all original hardcopies
See the Accessing Printed Material section to find out how to consult newspapers.