Improving access to Canada's digital heritage

Digitized materials are not always easily indexed by Google and other search engines, meaning that in the past, users had to visit each individual website to find content related to their research- a very time consuming process.

This is why a group of Canadian libaries, museums and archives joined together to develop the Canadiana Discovery Portal. The Portal makes it possible for users to search the digital collections of participating organizations via a single search engine. Since it's launch, the Portal has significantly improved the accessibility of Canada's digital heritage collections for the purposes of research, learning and enjoyment. The Portal works by aggregating the metadata (descriptive information such as title, author, etc.) of digital items from collections across Canada into a single database maintained at Canadiana.org. Like the European Union digital library, “Europeana”, and other national portals, the Discovery Portal offers a central reference point for Canada's digital heritage, and provides a valuable service for Canadians.

The Canadiana Discovery Portal currently provides access to a wide variety of material such as books, journals, newspapers, government documents, photographs, maps, post cards, sheet music, audio and video files related. Presently, there are over 40 organizations contributing content to the Portal including Library and Archives Canada, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, numerous university libraries, the Calgary, Toronto, and Vancouver public libraries, federal government departments, and the National Gallery of Canada. This summer, the Portal surpassed the 65 million-page mark, providing Canadians with access to more than 900,000 items. To date, the majority of the content available through the Portal are texts and images, but there are an increasing number of audio, video and other multimedia files.

The aim is to create a premier research and discovery service for many different user communities including scholars, genealogists and other specialized groups, as well as the general public.

The Canadiana Discovery Portal is a national resource that benefits from wide-spread participation of organizations across Canada. The success of the Portal depends on its ongoing support from the broader heritage community to ensure it is visible, is used, and indexes a significant representation of collections from Canada's cultural institutions. There are a number of ways you can get involved:

        • Include the Canadiana Discovery Portal (http://beta.canadiana.ca/) in your list of information resources for students, teachers, researchers, and public.

        • Make your digital collections accessible through the Canadiana Discovery Portal. The more collections available through the Portal, the more useful and valuable the Portal will become. Canadiana.org makes it easy for you to contribute metadata and accepts metadata in many different formats. Send an email to info@canadiana.org to find out more.

        • Become a member of Canadiana.org. There are a variety of membership categories to choose from based on the size and needs of the organization. Visit the membership page for more information: http://www.canadiana.ca/en/membership