Press Picker code published

||Written by Olivia VaneMarch 8, 2021Comments: 0

We are very pleased to share the code for ‘Press Picker’, our interactive data visualisation tool for newspaper metadata: https://github.com/Living-with-machines/PressPicker_public.

We developed Press Picker, as part of Living with Machines, to help us get a handle on British Library newspaper data, as we planned digitisation. The scale and complexity of the newspaper metadata—different formats held by the library, newspaper titles changing their name—meant we needed more power than Excel could give us and we built our own custom tool in Python Jupyter notebooks, using Pandas for data processing and D3.js for visualisation. You can read more about the context to Press Picker in this blogpost.

We’re sharing the code for reuse. Check out the code on Github https://github.com/Living-with-machines/PressPicker_public. There’s information about reusing it in the README https://github.com/Living-with-machines/PressPicker_public/blob/master/README.md. You can try the notebooks out live on Binder: https://mybinder.org/v2/gh/Living-with-machines/PressPicker_public/HEAD.

For JavaScript developers, we have additionally shared an Observable notebook: https://observablehq.com/@oliviafvane/branching-sparklines-line-graphs stepping through the visualisation code.

Press Picker demo

Try the Press Picker visualisation below. This demo includes newspaper data from a subset of counties. Titles can be selected using the checkboxes at the left. Some information about selected titles is shown in a table below the visualisation.

How to read Press Picker
screenshot of PressPicker
Key showing how to read Press Picker

Newspaper formats: MF = microfilms (a kind of film reel), HC = hardcopies (bound volumes)

A warning icon  is used to signal microfilms made on acetate: a material used in early microfilming at the British Library, but that degrades and cannot be digitised off.


Press Picker was developed by Olivia Vane, Kasra Hosseini and Giorgia Tolfo, as part of Living with Machines, and made possible due to the generous help of many people. Thank you Yann Ryan, British Library News curators, Luke McKernan, Stephen Lester, British Library Metadata Services, Jon Lawrence and Amy Krause.



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