Friday, 3 June 2011

More Canadian heritage online?

Michael Geist, University of Ottawa professor, blogger and newspaper columnist, imagines the mandates letters an enlightened Prime Minister might have sent to several of his Ministers. From the letter to James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage responsible for Library and Archives Canada.
The next four years also offers the chance to create a true national digital library as the foundation of a digital cultural policy. Canada has only digitized 13 per cent of its documentary text and less than one per cent of its video, audio, and photographs. You should assume a leadership position by actively working with provincial and local groups to develop a world-class national digital library that makes Canadian culture available from coast to coast and around the world by July 2015.
The figure of 13% of Canada's documentary text being online comes from The Stratford Report 2011 at

A section of that report on digitization in Canada notes that "Canada is falling behind other nations in recognizing the economic importance of preserving and making our national cultural documentary heritage accessible now and for future generations."

In Canada we have had a lot of talking around digitization, with development of a vision and plans. But as the Stratford report highlights "Vision without action is hallucination...Canada needs action."

Now that Parliament is in session we should soon be seeing the release of Library and Archives Canada's Report of Plans and Priorities. Will it contain details of the action LAC will undertake on digitization this year, or subject us to yet another year of hallucination?

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