Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Why is the Ottawa Room Languishing?

The question came to mind while reading about the Niagara Falls Public Library's  Historic Niagara Digital Collections website which currently has over 400,000 records including 30,000 images. Those are to be augmented by thousands of additional images detailing Niagara Falls' history from the 1920s through a partnership between the Niagara Falls Review and the Niagara Falls Public Library. Details are at http://www.niagarafallsreview.ca/2015/01/15/review-photo-archives-donated-to-library.

Niagara isn't unique. Two other public libraries showcasing local history online are Kingston and Toronto, Thunder Bay Public Library is a participant in a WW1 project. Please post a comment if your library has online historical content.

So what's the Ottawa Public Library equivalent? Go to http://biblioottawalibrary.ca/en/ottawa-room and you'll read The Ottawa Room provides a centralized information resource about Ottawa and surrounding areas, both past and present, (with) over 15,000 thousand (sic) items that can be consulted free of charge. You'll find a description of how the physical space for the Ottawa Room has been enlarged over the years and a quote from thirteen years ago lauding the Ottawa Room.

What you won't find is any online resources. None. No digital books, no photographs, no newspapers, no city directories. Not even a link to some of those resources that exist online elsewhere.

To be a service these days it's essential to be online. That`s something OPL recognizes  ... except for local history.

In fact the historic collection is languishing. There is currently no librarian dedicated to overseeing the Ottawa Room. The library should be a window on the city's interesting history, not just a public library like any other that happens to serve Ottawa.


Joanne Stanbridge said...

Many thanks for the nod to our "Digital Kingston" site--we're delighted to say that an updated and expanded version will be launched in the next few weeks. Please stay tuned! -- Jo Stanbridge, Librarian, Local History and Genealogy, Kingston Frontenac Public Library

Lynne Willoughby said...

The Halton Hills Public Library has an active genealogy component with many local newspapers available online.

Jackie Corrigan said...

Winnipeg Public Library has an online historical collection called PastForward at http://pastforward.winnipeg.ca/

Anonymous said...

So true. I wish this would get forwarded to management at the library. It's shameful that the capital of canada languishes behind every small rural library in the country. a real embarrassment and there's no excuse since its so easy and cheap to digitize collections. this is not an expensive project by any means.