HISTORY buffs can get their hands on archive copies of the Hartlepool Mail and its predecessor the Northern Daily Mail.
Hartlepool Borough Council is disposing of bound volumes of both papers, dating from the early 1900s to the 1960s, which were once held at Foggy Furze library.
The collection is a mix of 100 volumes of the paper in broadsheet and tabloid.
The bound volumes are surplus to requirements and the council has now agreed to donate, auction or recycle the archive copies.
Library bosses say the copies are in a state of “natural deterioration” and the collection has not been used by the public for at least 30 years.
There is also no longer space to store the large collection after the closure of Foggy Furze last March.
All archive copies of the Mail can also be viewed free of charge in a separate collection held in microfilm format at the Central Library, in York Road, Hartlepool, while a similar collection is based within the Mail office for reference purposes.
There has been interest from one local history group in some of the volumes and officers say they will donate the copies if there are groups interested.
If not then the council will look to sell them at an auction house.
Those that cannot be sold will be recycled.
Independent councillor Cath Hill, portfolio holder for culture, leisure and tourism, met recently to approve plans to dispose of the bound volumes.
Coun Hill said: “They have reached the end of their useful life.”
Officers say the cost of making them available to the public would be to high.
John Mennear, the council’s assistant director of community services, confirmed the council would explore auctioning the newspapers and if not they would be recycled.
Mr Mennear said: “The cost of creating a suitable storage place with the correct storage conditions to prevent further deterioration would be high.
“To make the collection accessible to the public and meet health and safety requirements would further increase the costs of storage.
“Furthermore, as all these newspapers are freely available via microfilm, this would be an unnecessary course of action and expense.”
The British Library also currently holds the master copies of the microfilms.
Any groups interested in taking some of the bound copies should call (01429) 242909.