Canadiana.org is a membership alliance dedicated to building Canada’s digital preservation infrastructure and providing the broadest possible access to Canadian documentary heritage. Through Canadiana.org, a Canada-wide network of public and research libraries are sharing tools and capacity, leaing innovative open-source initiatives, and planning the future of digital preservation in Canada.
Governance and Structure
Canadiana.org is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors made up of distinguished scholars, representatives of Canada's major research libraries, and partners who champion access to Canadian heritage. Governance is pan-Canadian and aims to represent the interests of many stakeholder constituencies, including content creators, content holders, and users of cultural heritage and research resources.
Canadiana.org is an independent, registered charity established in 1978 to raise funds and receive donations and grants. As a non-profit and charitable organization, Canadiana applies all revenues to operating and improving its services.
Canadiana.org works to preserve Canada's documentary history and make it accessible online. With the support of Canada's major memory institutions, we identify, catalogue, and digitize documentary heritage—books, newspapers, periodicals, images and nationally-significant archival materials—in specialized searchable databases. The first of these, Early Canadiana Online, was launched in 1999 and today makes available roughly five million pages of content to participating research institutions, schools, and public libraries.
As a national aggregator, Canadiana.org operates the Canadiana Discovery Portal, a federated search platform that collects metadata (cataloguing information) from our partners and connects it into a single searchable portal. Some 40 memory institutions have joined, providing access to 65 million pages in total.
Imagine a country where every citizen has the opportunity to access the sum of its cultural heritage online; a country able to harness the will and energy of every library, archive, gallery, museum, historical society or institute of record to create a comprehensive collection of digital resources for the benefit of its citizens; a country committed to eliminating barriers of access, not only physical but geographical. Through the work of our organization, that country is Canada.
Established in 1978 as the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions (CIHM), Canadiana.org made substantial contributions to preservation thinking and practice in Canada in its early years. CIHM led microfilming efforts to combat the rising costs of accessing Canada’s fragile and scattered documentary heritage, and to halt its physical deterioration. These pioneering efforts produced master reproductions of rare or fragile documents as well as microfiche copies for distribution across the country. In addition, CIHM's catalogue developed into a comprehensive index of Canada’s early documentary corpus and is widely consulted by researchers in a variety of fields.
Following a 2005 merger with the Canadian Initiative for Digital Libraries and Alouette Canada, Canadiana.org has taken a leading role in advocating for and advancing digital preservation throughout Canada.
Digitization and Access
Canada's libraries, museums, archives, and government agencies possess rich digital collections containing our nation’s documentary heritage. These collections are continually expanding and include many different types of content. Canadiana.org works with these partners to strengthen our collective ability to preserve Canada's documentary heritage content online. We act as a coordinator, facilitator and advocate for digitization initiatives, while also providing access services and preservation infrastructures.
Canadiana.org's digitization services assist other Canadian organizations in preserving their records, enhancing access, and supporting long-term preservation. Revenue from these services is invested into preservation infrastructure, an approach which helps to keep preservation costs low down for everyone.
The exact scope and nature of these services vary from project to project. Typically, high-quality digital masters are produced from the source type (bound or unbound paper, microform, microfiche, etc.) provided by the client. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software provides for text searching, e-linking, and searchable PDF derivatives. One digital copy is returned to the client while multiple copies, if desired, are secured in a network of digital repositories for long-term, secure storage.