Access to archives is based on digitization

Reflection is needed in terms of the choices to be made

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Day: May 10
Time: 9:50AM - 11:05AM

Library shelves and museum warehouses are stacked with history. But what place does the Dewey Decimal System have in this digital age? This session provides insight on how the government and public services are archiving content, news and historical facts in today’s digital world.

Video summary

Broadcasters, museums, libraries, archive centres and other public institutions have committed to digitizing their content. The digitization of museum collections, for example, will help make them accessible to a larger number of visitors, both in Canada and abroad. However, digitizing archives represents a huge challenge. This generates a number of questions, particularly in terms of information ownership, the selection of content to be digitized, the choice of platform, the organization of content posted online, their cataloguing, their discoverability, their interoperability, their sustainability, etc. The digitization of archives also generates questions about funding and the Government’s role. Consultations on Canadian Content in a Digital World, recently launched by Minister Joly, will enable those in the field to collectively reflect on the actions to take.

Experts in this video

Government Film Commissioner and Chairperson of the NFB

Canadian historian

Nicolas Gauvin

Director, Business Partnerships and Information Management, Canadian Museum of History

Director, Media Library & archives, French Media – Société Radio-Canada

André Desrochers

Filmmaker, documentary maker and member of CACTUS

Video transcript excerpts

“In the last five years, there has been a wind of change in the Canadian Museum of History to fulfil its national mandate and make information on its collections and archives accessible to visitors, both in Canada and abroad.”

“Today, I can’t say that more than 4% or 5% of all our data has been digitized. It’s not a scandal; only 1.22% of the archives in Washington have been digitized. We can see that it is somewhat immeasurable. By the way, the objective is not to have 100%, but to have a pretty significant quantity because today, the reflex is to say that if it isn’t on the Internet, it doesn’t exist.”

“Our only solution with the means available, and taking into account the fact that we must continue to have analogue collections at this time, as long as it is published, it is to work as part of a network, to get the help of those who have digitized a significant number of content in Canada.”

“We have decided that, effective immediately, all new content is digitized and made accessible online, whenever possible.”

“But, the paradox is that the more people go online to consult the collections, the more they come in physically. For libraries, it is very clear. There had been a decrease in visitors, and now it is increasing. The more people see the collections, the more they are tempted to visit. It is not even a question of saying that we will divest in the physical to benefit the digital; it is that one helps the other.”

“The challenge, I think, is in the nomenclature, and also in the platform, which become obsolete very quickly. It’s about finding the right tools.”

“People who have trouble living with modest resources will not invest significant funds to hire people to reflect on what digitization standards should be, etc. I think a central organization should be responsible for that.”

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