History of Canadiana.org

Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions

The Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions (CIHM) was established in 1978 to locate early printed Canadian materials (books, annuals, and periodicals), preserve their content on microfilm, and to make the resulting collections available to libraries and archives in Canada and abroad.

In 1997, CIHM began to digitize a portion of its microfiche and to provide online access to these titles. This successful project became Early Canadiana Online. In 2000, CIHM ended microfilming and began to provide a combination of subscription and open access to its research collection through online databases which continue to grow today.

AlouetteCanada: Open Digitization Initiative

The AlouetteCanada initiative was founded by the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) in 2006. AlouetteCanada members and partners recognized that as Canadian society shifted increasingly to a digital environment, it would be vital to have a national vision and a comprehensive plan to present Canada’s cultural heritage online and provide enduring access to that heritage.

Towards achieving that vision, AlouetteCanada created the open-source Metadata Toolkit (later the Digital Collection Builder, a CARL project), software designed to facilitate the use of metadata standards to ensure maximum use, interoperability and long-term accessibility of Canadian content.

Canadian Initiative on Digital Libraries

The Canadian Initiative on Digital Libraries (CIDL) was formed in 1997 to promote, coordinate and develop Canadian digital collections and services. CIDL was directed by a Steering Committee elected from Canadian member libraries, and the secretariat was provided by Library and Archives Canada as an in-kind contribution.

CIDL was a strong resource and advocate for the creation of a digital Canada. With the backing of CIDL members, the University of Calgary Press and l'Université Laval Library jointly led the national digitization project Our Roots / Nos racines. This project continues to make available online the most complete collection possible of Canadian local histories published in English or French.

CIDL experienced, as time is measured in the digital world, a long and productive 10-year existence. In January 2007, the CIDL Steering Committee passed a resolution to dissolve CIDL and to fully endorse AlouetteCanada as its logical successor through which to realize its ambitions.

Merger of CIHM and AlouetteCanada

See also: Canadiana.org and AlouetteCanada merger announced - April 1, 2008 (PDF, 150kb)

The boards of the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries concluded an agreement in March 2008 to merge CIHM and AlouetteCanada, creating a new body known as Canadiana.org.

The goal of the merged Canadiana.org was to create, disseminate, preserve and sustain the knowledge base, scientific and cultural, of Canadian memory organizations in digital form to benefit all Canadians. All parties declared their commitment to a coordinated and sustained program to digitize Canada's information and knowledge resources and to provide easy online access to the extraordinary wealth of documentary resources by and about Canadians. Today, Canadiana.org continues to organize and facilitate access to and use of Canadian online content, and to preserve the digital content for generations to come.