Frequently-Asked Questions

What is

Canadiana is a not-for-profit organization and registered charity that was created and is governed by Canada's major memory institutions, including university libraries, public libraries, Library and Archives Canada, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries.

Our mission is to make Canada’s documentary heritage accessible for Canadians and the world. For 35 years, Canadiana has been making film copies, and since the 1990s, digitized copies, of Canadian documentary history available to Canadian research, public and government libraries.

What are the objectives of the Héritage Project?

Héritage aims to digitize, preserve and make accessible Canada’s archival materials for Canadians and the world. Héritage is also a pathfinder project to determine the best ways to organize and fund ongoing efforts to make all of Canada’s remaining documentary heritage accessible online.

What is included in Héritage?

A wide variety of microfilm records are being digitized with Library and Archives Canada under the scope of this project. The end result will be a significant corpus of documentary heritage spanning three centuries. For ease of navigation, the collection has been divided into five core subject areas:

·          A large array of genealogy materials, including immigration records, church records, land records, family histories and papers, voters’ lists, etc.

·          Documents relating to Canada’s aboriginal peoples – First Nations, Métis and Inuit

·          Records from the core government departments, including Indian Affairs, Immigration, Health, Agriculture, Railways and Canals, Fisheries and Natural Resources

·          A rich military history component documenting the major 19th and 20th-century conflicts as well as the military administration during times of peace

·          Papers from prominent Canadians and organizations, including prime ministers, Governors General, premiers, cabinet ministers, explorers, scientists, entrepreneurs, writers and artists

Who will own the copyright over the digital copies?

Canadiana does not claim copyright over this publicly-owned archival heritage. All material included in the project, including the digital reproductions, will remain in the public domain—that it to say, free of copyright. The physical archival source materials are the property of Library and Archives Canada and will continue to be available to the public.

What type of access is supported by this project?

Héritage will make all digital material freely accessible online. The same finding aids available to search the microfilm collections will also be available online for the digital versions, meaning that people who wish to research these collections will no longer need to travel to Ottawa. 

In addition to free access, optional premium access will be offered to help fund the ongoing work of creating metadata, which involves describing and transcribing the hand-written materials. Premium access, which will also fund the ongoing preservation costs, will include a number of enhanced features, such as:

·          sophisticated search capabilities making use of enhanced metadata and full-text transcriptions

·          high-resolution downloads

·          access to textual datasets for text mining

·          personal bookshelves and saved searches

Please note: Premium subscriptions do not exist yet but will be made available once sufficient collections have been digitized and metadata created. Not all features will exist at launch, and more features may be added over time.

Who else will be allowed to host and re-use the digital content?

Each year, at least 10% of digitized, described and transcribed content will be released into Open Access, allowing other institutions or individuals to add this digital content to their own collections or to make any other use of it allowed by a non-commercial Creative Commons license.

In a nutshell, this will allow other institutions to add the material to their own collections, which will enhance digital preservation by having more copies supported, and at the same time ensure the work is done in an efficient and coordinated way.

Since it is important to maintain consistent metadata standards and structures throughout the project, collections will only be released into Open Access once they have been described and transcribed and the metadata integrated into Canadiana’s secure repository.

How is Héritage funded?

Start-up funds were generously provided by 47 members of the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN), a group of research libraries dedicated to expanding digital resources for academic research.  

Additional funds are needed to support the ongoing work of creating metadata and ensuring digital preservation. These funds will be raised through advertising, sponsorships, donations, grants and collaborative research projects. The optional premium access will allow users to help fund the description/transcription process in exchange for enhanced search and retreival features.

Most of the materials are hand-written. Who is creating the metadata and transcribing images to computer text?

Through crowd-sourcing, many institutions and individuals will be invited to participate in the description and transcription phase to make these collections searchable and available to analytical research.

How are priorities , standards, and collaborations decided?

The project is evolving through consultations with Canadiana’s stakeholders, including university libraries, major archives, and the Canadian Library Association. To make sure stakeholders and the broader community have a chance to contribute, advisory committees will be created to set priorities and standards and explore opportunities to collaborate.

Advice will be sought from other crowd-sourcing initiatives and the library and archive communities on ways to collect the data most effectively and efficiently, structure the metadata, apply metadata standards, and perform quality assurance.

These collaborations may include:

·          Working with a research institution, or special interest groups, on a particular collection or set of  metadata to meet their specific research goals

·          Working with other memory institutions to create a preservation network for mutual, redundant backup, support and disaster recovery

·          Working with public libraries to introduce Héritage to Canadians and provide guidance to those wishing to help describe and transcribe the handwritten pages

What happens after Year 10?  

At the end of the 10-year project, the Héritage digital images will be 100% free and Open Access.

Héritage is also a pathfinder project to develop a process for sustainable Open Access. In time, new projects will be launched following the same (and improved) process.