Wednesday, 30 March 2011

LAC to double genealogy data online within a year

Librarian and Archivist of Canada Daniel Caron has made a commitment that "over the next year, Library and Archives Canada will double the volume of its online content, adding millions of genealogy images to its website, in partnership with Ancestry.ca."

At an appearance before a Parliamentary committee, on February 28, Caron made the commitment as part of an opening statement and answered questions.

It appears the new content referred to is largely that presently available on Ancestry.ca for which a three year exclusivity period with Ancestry expires in June this year.

In the meantime, with a federal election now underway, there is an embargo on any new announcements by government. Last election that included any additions to online databases at Library and Archives Canada. Don't expect any new data on the LAC site until May at the earliest.

In the same committee hearing, in response to questioning from MP Bill Siksay, Jean-Stéphen Piché appearing with Caron stated that "We have already undertaken the digitization of several million documents that were done by Ancestry.ca; that information is available on our website for free, and also available for a fee on the Ancestry.ca site. It's a non-exclusive arrangement."

Committee members may not have gained a totally accurate impression. LAC does negotiate periods of online exclusivity, as a quid pro quo for digitization and indexing. Afterwards the information is available to become free on the LAC site, if web services get around to it. During the exclusivity period there is free public access to the databases on Ancestry in the LAC building at 395 Wellington, and at many public libraries through their subscriptions to the Ancestry Library service.

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