Tuesday, 11 June 2013

LAC agreement with Canadiana on online access

See Update below
Information has been leaked on the Bibliocracy blog regarding a proposed Canadiana scheme to digitize and provide access to Canadian heritage materials owned by Library and Archives Canada.
Details are sketchy; the official announcement is slated for Friday, but the CBC is already conducting interviews on the proposal. It is described as "a major project to digitize a large collection of archival material, enrich it with metadata, and provide enduring open access to the content". The scope is "over 40 million images from over 800 collections of archival material. Collection subjects include personal papers and fonds, census data, central registries, church records, First Nations, government documents, land, military, photographs and more."
A $2M start-up fund is apparently nearly fully subscribed from a group of Canadian universities, members of The Canadian Research Knowledge Network.
The full cost of the 10 year project is an estimated $40 - $50 Million.
According to the blog post:
"The agreement between LAC and Canadiana provides for 10 years of exclusive rights for Canadiana to monetize the collections in exchange for making them accessible online. Costs will be funded out of revenues.
Each year 10% of the collections will be made Open Access to Canadians. At the end of the project term 100% will be Open Access. Users will be charged access fees for non-Open Access content during the 10-year exclusivity term."
Comment: I believe this should be a development welcomed by most Canadian genealogists. LAC has remained constipated for too long when it comes to digitization.

Some will argue that these are public documents we the taxpayer have already paid for. True, but we have not paid for digitization. No free public access currently available should be removed by this agreement. The agreement should provide for additional access which this government is not prepared to fund, an arrangement increasingly common in other countries.

The arrangement should provide for affordable free public access be available across Canada. Subscriber universities generally already offer limited free public access to all kinds of databases in their libraries. In addition public libraries should continue to have the option to subscribe through Early Canadiana Online making access available at their facilities, much as already exists at many libraries for Ancestry Library.

It's a bit puzzling as to why Canadiana would be permitted to gain this access without other organization being given the opportunity to make a competing proposal. Perhaps some of the material being digitized could be offered to those organizations, and they might even become partners in digitization so offsetting some of the costs. That's flexibility possible with Canadiana not open to LAC directly.
UPDATE
Minister Moore, in response to a question by MP Andrew Cash, said any decision to charge for LAC content will be deferred until next fall when a new head for LAC is expected to be appointed.
Will someone please tell the Minister the head of LAC is not the President. His use of the term just shows how little he knows about LAC.




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