You can’t touch, smell and hear the words on the web

Vital to plan together in case disaster should strike

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Not surprisingly, I love newspapers.

I love their smell, their feel and the noise they make when their pages are turned.

For me, reading newspapers, books and magazines is a treat for all the senses, not just the eyes.

At our offices in Lakeside, there is a little room of wonderment where I like to go just to stand and sniff. It’s the room of the bound volumes (known as The Dungeon when we were based at Hilsea), where copies of the Evening News (going back to 1877) and the Hampshire Telegraph (all the way back to 1800) are kept.

I’m not alone in my appreciation of the special smell of this room – other colleagues like to do the same.

Perhaps it’s the sense of history within the millions of words of print kept in that small room.

Perhaps it’s because they used to be protected by a thick metal door and the type of large key any child with an imagination would love to see.

Perhaps it’s because it’s a treasure trove of facts, the passing of the years marked by their biggest events and their smaller ones – like the announcement of my own birth in the March 1980 volume.

A lot is said about online publishing of news and threats to bookshops and libraries as more books move online.

My feelings on the matter are clear – you can’t smell the internet. You can’t feel it, file it, shelve it and call it yours.

For the past 82 years, researchers have been going to the British Newspaper Museum in North London whenever they need help from the papers.

But this giant version of our own Dungeon, including 160 million pages of print from 300 years’ worth of every newspaper – even the one I started at university – has worn out.

Many might tell the library staff to scan the pages, upload them to a server and shut the whole lot down.

But, luckily, good sense has prevailed. A new temperature-controlled fire-safe storage facility has been built, and volumes will be delivered to a reading room in St Pancras for anyone who wants to read something.

Sure, you can’t get the information from the comfort of your own computer, but isn’t it nice to go and find the paper?