12 May 2008

The Ottawa Public Library needs a wake up call on digitization

Seven Northern New York counties, Ottawa's near neighbours with a total population under half a million, have cooperated to digitize and OCR more than a million pages of 31 local area newspapers and make them freely available online. Access them here. This was achieved through a library cooperative.

By contrast the Ottawa Public Library, serving a population approaching twice the size, appears MIA on digitization. When I asked one of their staff about this some weeks ago I was told the OPL was investigating digitization, then received an email stating "I was incorrect in thinking that we were undertaking a digitization project - we are not quite there yet."

"Not quite there" seems to be overstating the case. You can search the work plan for the Ottawa Public Library Board, scheduled for discussion on 12 May, for any mention of digitization. It's totally off the radar screen, not impressive for an organization that aspires to be "innovative."

I have sent an email to the City Councillors who sit on the Library Board, Jan Harder (Chair), Michel Bellemare, Peggy Feltmate, Diane Holmes, Shad Qadri and Marianne Wilkinson, requesting they add an item to the work plan that would see the OPL report to the Board on options for a local digitization project by the fourth quarter. Two responses so far have not been encouraging that the suggested action will be forthcoming, One Councillor does seem interested in exploring the issue further with the OPL.

1 comment:

WJM said...

For the self-styled tech capital of Canada, everything about Ottawa, from the library to the transit system, is stuck in at best the early 1990s.