No More Paywall: Over 60 Million Pages of Digitized Canadian Documentary Heritage Soon to Be Available at No Charge
As of January 1, 2019, 60 million pages of Canadian digital documentary heritage will be available at no charge to users. The Canadiana collections are the largest online collections of early textual Canadiana in the world. The removal of the subscription paywall will allow unimpeded access to this unique historical content for researchers, students, faculty, and all users in Canada and around the world.
Making the Canadiana collections available at no cost to users is a result of the recent merger between Canadiana.org, a not-for-profit charity, and the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN), a not-for-profit partnership of 75 Canadian universities, finalized in April 2018. “When our members outlined the vision and goals of a merged organization, ensuring the widespread access to the Canadiana collections was of vital importance,” states Alan Shepard, Chair of the CRKN Board of Directors and President and Vice-Chancellor of Concordia University. “Expanding access to this content encourages the study of Canada, both within and outside of the country,” continued Dr. Shepard. “We are proud to have followed through on our commitment to the community in our first year of operations as a merged organization.”
The Canadiana collections include three flagship collections: Early Canadiana Online, Héritage, and Canadiana Online. The Early Canadiana Online and Canadiana Online collections are comprised of Canadian monographs, periodicals, government publications, newspapers and annuals and amount to over 19 million pages. The Héritage collection, developed in partnership with Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and CRKN, includes 900 collections of 41 million pages of archival materials. The Héritage collection includes scans of microfilm taken from some of Library and Archives Canada’s most sought-after archival collections. “LAC is proud to have partnered with CRKN to develop this fundamental collection for researchers, students, teachers, and all Canadians interested in their ancestry and shared history,” states Dr. Guy Berthiaume, Librarian and Archivist of Canada. “We applaud CRKN’s decision to increase access to our documentary heritage.”
The removal of the subscription paywall and user fee does not mean that there are no longer costs associated with the continued maintenance and development of this content. CRKN and the archival community continue to add to the Canadiana Online and Héritage collections and CRKN is currently engaging with stakeholders to develop digitization priorities.
Ongoing costs and support for Canadiana collections comes from CRKN members who have made a three-year commitment to fund the development of the collections and access platform. In the coming year, CRKN is looking to make critical updates to its platform, increasing the ability to find and use Canadiana content.
An assessment and review of the content is also required to decolonize descriptions, search terms, keywords, and other classifications to ensure that they are culturally sensitive. CRKN also plans to eventually make the Canadiana collections available as open access which would entail a review and implementation of user rights statements. These developments will once again increase ease of use and access to the collections, eventually making them more readily available in research settings and to the general public.
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About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.