Thursday, 17 November 2016

Canadian Content in a Digital World

The Department of Canadian Heritage is undertaking a consultation, "a national dialogue on Canadian content; one that will help us adapt our cultural policies to today’s digital realities."

The Minister of Canadian Heritage asks "Tell us what’s important to you. Share your ideas to help Canada thrive in a digital world. And to allow people across the country and around the world to keep discovering what makes our culture and creators so great."

There have been several consultation sessions in five centres across the country, from Vancouver to Halifax as well as online through social media.

Judging by the participant lists for the consultation session discussion has been dominated by the arts and entertainment community. Canadian Content in a Digital World is more than that.

Just before I read about this consultation I was looking at an announcement about the US National Digital Newspaper Program. It provides major federal funding with the aim being "to create a national digital resource of historically significant newspapers published between 1690 and 1963, from all the states and U.S. territories ... (a) searchable database (which) will be permanently maintained at the Library of Congress (LC) and will be freely accessible via the Internet." So far 43 states have participated in the program - see www.neh.gov/grants/preservation/national-digital-newspaper-program and millions of digitized searchable pages are made available through Chronicling America - http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/.

There have also been major national programs of newspaper digitization elsewhere, notably in the UK and Australia. These allow researchers of all ages, school children to seniors, to learn first hand about their communities recorded in newspapers, the first draft of history.

The Government of Canada has done nothing.

Piecemeal newspaper digitization has been done locally in Canada. There has been no federal leadership as in the other countries and so Canadians are deprived of the same access to their documentary heritage in a digital age as is being increasingly enjoyed in other countries.

It's past time for Canada to catch up. A funded program with federal leadership should be established.






1 comment:

Les Anderson said...

I'm with you John!!