Canada's Parliamentary Debates preserved in virtual library

Canadiana.org and the Library of Parliament have launched a new digital library providing access to the Historical debates of the Parliament of Canada.

The portal supports full-text searching of historical parliamentary debates in both official languages, bringing out large amounts of new information for public and scholarly analysis. Extensive in scope, the resource stretches from recent times (1996) to the first session of the inaugural Parliament in 1867, ensuring that Canada’s early parliamentary record will be preserved for future citizens.

Canadiana.org’s role in the project was threefold: combine the high-quality digital copies of the parliamentary debates held by the Library of Parliament with debates from Canada’s first eight parliaments (1867-1900) held by Canadiana; build a reliable Web interface for ease of access and viewing; and develop structured, searchable metadata to help users navigate the sessions. The result is a digital library organized largely along the lines of the existing Hansard, which can be browsed by Parliament, session, and calendar date.

This partnership expands and diversifies the large corpus of government records available through Canadiana.org, including the Jules Léger Digital Library (produced with Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada) the and the Héritage project (produced with Library and Archives Canada). We hope that our joint efforts will benefit researchers throughout Canada, from veteran scholars to students working on their first civics assignments.

Funding for this project was generously provided by the Library of Parliament. Substantial contributions from Canadiana.org members have supported the systems infrastructure which houses this digital collection, attesting to the increasing importance and value of a nationwide alliance of public and research libraries. Canadiana.org appreciates the longstanding commitments from member libraries and supporters to sustain digital preservation in Canada, making projects like this possible.