Researchers build online index for the Co-op News

The resource, being developed by Principle 5 in Sheffield, will be invaluable to students of the co-op movement

Co-operative resource centre Principle 5 is developing an online index for Co-operative News so to help researchers track down articles.

Back copies of the paper, which dates back to 1871, are viewable at Principle 5, as well as the National Co-operative Archive in Manchester and Liverpool John Moores University. But, in the absence of an index, students of the movement face a hard task looking for specific articles or subjects.

Principle 5 has set out to remedy this and has started work building the index, which is taking shape here (user name coop, password news).

The founding mission statement for Principle 5, based in Aizlewood Mill, Sheffield, includes the words: “This collection of co-operative educational and research resources began with a realisation of the immense value of back editions of the Co-operative News. Back and current editions will always be available for reading.”

Steve Thompson, who is leading the indexing work, said: “Many co-operative students, researchers and people who are interested in the co-operative commonwealth have found what they are looking for in the pages of Co-op News.

Yingjia Cao, Jonathan Cook and Steve Thompson from Principle 5

“When it first came into print in 1871 there was an index which came to an end at the time of the First World War. Searching for the information which is contained in the pages of Co-op News is very difficult and time consuming without an index.

“A decision was taken by the board of Principle 5 in 2018 to create an online searchable index for the editions of Co-operative News which we have in the resource centre. The editions which we have are all listed in the Principle 5 catalogue ‘Reference Shelves – Co-op News’.

Principle 5 is planning to complete the index by referring to the other editions of the Co-op News in the National Co-operative Archive.

The index can direct anyone who goes online to keywords, article titles, page numbers and editions, and then contact Principle 5 to request a scan of the pages they want to read, or visit the centre to see the paper copy.

“The work of building the index has only just begun and editions are being added every day,” added Mr Thompson. “It will take a long time to completion.”

“The board realised that we would need someone who could build a searchable online index. Through the University of Sheffield we appointed an intern through their Postgraduate Advantage Scheme. We were very fortunate to be able to welcome Yingjia Cao (Jade) who has created the database and management system which allows people to interact with the online index by searching for information.”

Since the formal internship, she has joined Principle 5 as its information systems volunteer.

Jonathan Cook, chair of Principle 5, has organised the process.