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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.
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.
Government Film Commissioner and Chairperson of the NFB
Director, Business Partnerships and Information Management, Canadian Museum of History
Director, Media Library & archives, French Media – Société Radio-Canada
Filmmaker, documentary maker and member of CACTUS
“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.”
Claude Joli-Coeur: We’ll do this session in French, so if you need translation, I think you have all the devices.
Welcome, I’ll present you, quickly, even if Anne-Marie already mentioned them, our panelists. To my right, Guy Berthiaume, Canadian historian, Librarian and Archivist of Canada. Nicolas Gauvin, to my left, who is Director, Business Partnerships and Information Management, Canadian Museum of History. Patrick Monette from Radio-Canada, Director, Mediatech and Archives, French Services, Radio-Canada. To my right, André Desrochers, who is a cinematographer, documentary filmmaker, and member of CACTUS, which is an association of community television, a pan-Canadian group of community television stations.
What I’m proposing is that we do a quick introduction of each of you and quickly present the digital transformation of your organizations, and then I’ll follow with a series of questions and we can all share our points of view. Guy, we will start with you.
Guy Berthiaume: Library and Archives Canada… well, it’s really the first time I’m speaking, I don’t know if I should slouch or sit up. I’ll try to sit up slightly. It’s a relatively unique organization, even on a global scale, because at the moment the Internet appeared, quickly, the people responsible for the two institutions of the Archives and the National Library understood that there was no more logic in dividing things, to oblige our users to know that such documents would be at one institution (National Archives) and that another document, a movie, a picture, a stamp, would be in another institution. The fusion, and the access to the entirety of our collections in one door of entry was imposed. It’s not a model that took off. It was done in 2004, and in 2005, Quebec followed this route which means for Canadian Francophones thought it is a universal model. Nowhere else, in Belgium, in Holland, in New Zealand, they tried to fuse and they didn’t succeed. They weren’t successful experiences. And so, us, we are… we have collections, that are private and public at the same time, and this is also original. And if I can compare myself to American archives, French Archives, to British Archives, they only have government collections, while we have author collections, like Jacques Godbout, we have painter collections, like Karsh, the photographer, and so we are really depositaries of a unique collection at the Canadian level. It’s 252 kilometers of archives, 22 million books, 425 pieces of arts. So it’s a giant collection. It’s clear that we’ll identify our challenges as we go through your questions and it’s clear that for us, to make them discoverable, to make them accessible, and to digitize them, it’s an undertaking that, if we tried to do it solo, it’s an impossible undertaking to complete. So we have to find alternative strategies to make it discoverable and accessible. It’s a huge collection.
Claude Joli-Coeur: Thank you. All right, Nicolas.
Nicolas Gauvin: Hello. Well, I’ll tell you… firstly, we are incredibly flattered to be invited to an occasion like this one. We had lost a bit of the habit to be ahead of the curve in regards to being online and accessing the information on the collections because the Canadian Museum of History, previously the Canadian Museum of Civilization… when we made the Museums Act in the 80s, there was also the Virtual Museum of New France, which was a very avant-garde institution because it offered visitors online access, and over time the museum emphasized the development of collections, probably to the benefit of information management technologies; also, I’d say that over the last five years, there’s been a change at the museum to accomplish its national mandate and make information on the collections, the archives, accessible to visitors, whether it’s at the Canadian level, or the global level. I’d say that at this moment, there are still big challenges with regard to the connections that we keep with the individuals who want to discover the collections that we have in the museum, and to make these collections accessible. What distinguishes museums in general compared to the different institutions that are here today, is the object, the artifacts, the unique objects, and so, for the people, there’s a connection with these objects that isn’t found at the digital level, or the virtual level, but if we use technologies that are really avant-garde, we can, paradoxically, offer visitors access to what can’t be seen with their own eyes. Technologies, for example at the visual level, could be used to make iconic details visible that even the naked eye could not distinguish. And so, we are also presented with a bunch of possibilities to make all of these collections accessible, and over the next five years, we should be completing, for example, a plan to digitize the collections, for example. To give you an idea, the museum has about 3.5 million artifacts. Roughly only 7% are digitized online. It’s really a small part of our collection. What interests me to discuss with you, is the question of who holds the information? A museum usually has curators, usually, traditionally, the curator informs, documents, and is the person who is the authority on the object. If we open the collection, what does it mean for a national museum? It remains a challenge for us even if, for other institutions, it’s part of the past.
Claude Joli-Coeur: Thank you. Patrick, on the side of Radio-Canada.
Patrick Monette: Yes, hi. I’m Patrick Monette. I’m the Director, Mediatech and Archives, French Services of Radio-Canada. I have a team that works hard to select content, catalogue, and research and enhance. It’s mostly television shows, and so it’s mostly a lot of audio-visual. It will be 80 years, in November, that history’s been accumulating. We have important collections and currently, I am orchestrating the digitization, a digitization project, with our colleagues from CBC. It’s in that context that we operate. We received good news and in that sense, we will be able to accelerate our rate of digitization. It’s been a long time that we’ve been digitizing as a small pilot project, and now we will be able to accelerate and find new ways to put that together. It definitely requires technology, and we all know the digital future, mobility, distribution, and enhancement are new challenges.
Claude Joli-Coeur: Thank you. Well, André, your turn.
André Desrochers: Well, you might be wondering what we’re doing here. We’re community media. I’m a documentarian by training, I have a lot of experience with archiving Arthur Lamotte’s collection. We digitized a whole collection of Mr. Lamotte’s on the Innu Nation. 82 half hours of lines. We went from one inch, to beta-cam, to beta-cam SP, to beta-cam digital, to finally make a DVD set of his whole collection. I have a lot of experience in trying to digitize. With community media, what’s interesting is that we have in our bank a whole collection of people, let’s say, voiceless communities, under a big network. We have shows that speak of places across the country. We have that in the bank. We are trying to digitize that. In Quebec, we received some help from the government with its digital plan, which gave a little bit of money to community television to put together the resources to digitize. So, each one… there wasn’t a uniformization of discoverability, each does their own. You might be familiar with the damages that occurred in Saint-Raymond de Portneuf. A community television station lost half of its 45 years of archives because of a fire and what was left on DVD melted; it’s all warped. They lost a lot of things. We presented a project, CACTUS, to the CRTC, a media centre that would assemble everyone in communities of 10,000 or more residents, and they would become partners to digitize, to archive. Not only to be a centre, but to partner with libraries or local archive centres so that we could share, digitalize, and archive together to keep for the future and to help… I’m from the area of Vaudreuil-Soulanges, where there are currently 5,000 Syrians, and to help them to integrate we will offer them DVDs to show where the region comes from, what the region is, with the help of the museum and the Vaudreuil-Soulanges archive centre; it’s an activity that we will initiate to help make diverse community media accessible.
Claude Joli-Coeur: Thank you. Well, at home, at the NFB – I spoke about it briefly this morning in the introductory comments – we have a collection of 13,000 films that we partly digitalized in 2009. We made many of those films accessible via our online platform. Right now, we have roughly 3,500 films that can be viewed. Since 2009, it has been a considerable effort to allocate resources, and to develop a method that makes these films accessible. For us, it was a turning point, because… the NFB was founded in 1939, and many many of those films became unknown to the public or became a very vague memory. And so making them accessible, it became a turning point. Which brings me to my next round of questions. It brought us many challenges at the financial level. When we started, we were at the beginning of the budgetary restrictions the Canadian government put in place to respond to the economic crisis of 2008-2009. We needed to finance it, even our resources required a lot of re-engineering to be able to make it happen. There were financial stakes, and human stakes, and lots of developments where we were pretty much alone… at the time that we launched ONF.ca, there was Netflix that was just starting, and tou.tv followed. We were really at the beginning and we needed to pretty much invent everything. Now we have established processes, we digitize and add 500 movies every year. We dedicate significant resources just for that. But I’m conscious that for every organization it’s a colossal challenge. I’d like to hear how you afford this in instances when we don’t have a lot of money. Now we take for granted that everything needs to be accessible. Just to share an anecdote in launching this round of interventions, I studied law, I finished in 1978, at the time, the only way to find cases was in the index of jurisprudence, the library, and now we type a word, and all the cases appear. In my field of law, it brought about a proliferation of publications that really followed the technological tools to find them. Before that, there wasn’t much, and we found the right case, the right article. Now, everything multiplied at a rate… I would imagine at Library and Archives, with this abundance of content, now we say “We have to find it.”
Guy Berthiaume: There is that problem. Us, we… can’t forget that there’s still a whole production to the logic. A paper book continues to be produced. So, well, we don’t even have the luxury to say we’re going to abandon one for the other. We have to keep, at the same time, the legal deposit, the archives, the paper documents that we have, and also welcome what we receive electronically. It’s a major challenge despite all our investments, despite what we tried to do in redeploying resources. I can’t say today that we have 4-5% of our archives digitized. It’s not a scandal. The archives in Washington, they have 1.22% of their archives digitized. And so, we can see, what I was saying earlier, that it’s almost immeasurable… the objective isn’t 100% because it would suppose I’d have to digitize all the telephone books in Canada and absurd stuff like that. But to have a significant amount because as you said, today, the reflex is to say “If it’s not on the Internet, it doesn’t exist” and so we have to remind ourselves that 99% of the content in the United States, and 95% of the content here isn’t digitized. And so the good news is that the way to do this is that if the University of Toronto has digitized their archives, I don’t have to do it. I just have to create a link and we will be announcing this officially in June. We’re going to create a portal for the grouping of Canadian content. So if UBC, or if the Centrale, or BANQ, if they’ve digitized at our level, when we add them, it starts to be significant. If we create links, for the user, it’s transparent. He’ll go and will see such and such book, there it makes more sense. The challenge is less daunting. We won’t be at 100%, and it will never be enough. After, if you have more questions on that, how do we do it? What’s our responsibility? If we had the means to digitize everything, would we do it? If we had access to it, do we kill the story? Because people would have access to masses of information. That’s another challenge. In short, the only solution that we have, with the methods at our disposal, is that we have to continue to have analog collections at the moment… as long as they’re published, is to work as a network and to put together what’s been digitized throughout the country.
Claude Joli-Coeur: Maybe a bit of a technical question. Because, as you were saying, at the NFB, we continue to make films in formats… even if they’re digital… there’s a whole process… there are still things created that are still in a format that we will digitized to make them accessible. But in the deposit process, could you not also ask people to provide you with the digital version as well as with the physical copy?
Guy Berthiaume: Yes, the law, at the moment, is not watertight. The law permits it but we’re currently working so that the law can become more watertight and would require, at the same time, the digital submission and the… but that’s for what’s produced now… but I’m talking about collections that we have since 1872. That’s considerable. 252 kilometers. Imagine sheets of paper like this… 252 kilometers like this of archives.
Claude Joli-Coeur: That’s colossal. What about on the museum side?
Nicolas Gauvin: I would say our situation is very similar to Library and Archives. We’re very conscious of the limits that we have. There’s a lot of airing of things that aren’t online. We made the decision that all that arrives is digitized and accessible online when possible. There were changes… I’d say that previously, the curator responsible for the collections didn’t have the obligation to digitize everything that was collected by the museum. Three years ago, we did some organizational restructuring. Everything that was library, archives, and documentary services was brought to research. Now there’s a specific unit, which I direct, the partners, and information management put together a resource centre. We are currently physically creating the location, but it also has an online access chapter. There’s lots of investment that have been done in regards to the investments towards the museum. They’ve been done to… to go forward and make these things accessible online without putting all our eggs in one basket by saying “This is the future.” We continue to believe that the access to physical objects and exhibits, in fact, it’s a duality that needs to continue, and needs to improve because we also know that if we know better what we collect, it will render it more interesting. So this is the challenge we currently find ourselves faced with. Also, in regards to the collection of objects, the ratio… we have four employees who are responsible of all digitization, compared to 30 professionals who are responsible for physical collections. So, there’s really a change that’s happening in that regard.
Claude Joli-Coeur: As a national museum based in Gatineau, you still have the stakes of… you’re there for all Canadians, it’s not all Canadians who can come visit to get the sensorial experience… I would imagine that the digital would be…
Nicolas Gauvin: A platform…
Claude Joli-Coeur: …a teaser for when you finally come to visit or a platform to make it accessible.
Guy Berthiaume: That’s the paradox… if you permit me. The paradox is that… the more people consult online, the more they come physically. For libraries, it’s very clear… the more the people see the collections, the more they are tempted to come visit. It’s not even a question to say that we’re going to disinvest in the physical, but one feeds the other and so we have to respond to the demand.
Nicolas Gauvin: I would add that for us, what interests us… for the benefit of the general public… is to be able to work with institutions, institutions like yours and like Library and Archives, to centralize all of this for that person who wants to consult, so they don’t have to go to 56 sites, but to be able to go to one location, to the extent possible, where there’s a multiplicity of access to see collections, gather information, that’s where’s the challenge lies to organize this.
Claude Joli-Coeur: In an ideal world, as federal institutions, when someone looks up something on one subject… he searches… and could have access to the films, and the artifacts that are with you, and with you. We have the challenge as public organizations to find a way that for the user everything is super simple, there’s everything in his link.
Nicolas Gauvin: The challenge is at the level of nomenclature but also at the level of the platform that becomes outdated so quickly. It’s to the find the right tools.
Claude Joli-Coeur: And for…
Patrick Monette: Well, yes, that’s it. Radio-Canada is first a tele-distributor. It produces lots of content and so… certainly Radio-Canada is not an archive centre but there are definitely different challenges in digitization. Just to make the inventory pan-Canadian for the French and English content in 18 regional stations, it’s a colossal task. To select what to digitize, not everything is good to make accessible. Then there’s the question of infrastructure for digitization. It takes a lot of money to put in motion the capacity to digitize large volumes and the capacity to accommodate these large file formats… the pipeline, necessary infrastructure, and storage. First, there are all of the archivists who are working on the selection of the editorials, but we can’t forget about the investment that follows. And so there are many challenges in regards to that. I would also say that because we’re an enterprise that produces content, we have to remember that there are different formats that have existed, different types of support, and so there’s definitely a challenge to find the right support or format that will stand the test of time to ensure the next migration. Archivists, we also think of the long-term. It’s true that it becomes digital but all of that requires migration every 5 or 6 years because we migrate onto robo-technology, but it’s still physical somewhere. It’s all of these stakes that we have to become comfortable with, and I would say that there’s also a challenge with cataloguing. We might have a lot of content but it’s important that it’s catalogued at the right level to preserve the worth of the content. A movie at the NFB is a big piece of work, it’s certain that the cataloguing is at a certain level, as opposed to a news report where there are several subjects, several interventions, several locations, several points of view of the camera, and we want to reuse this content in our production, and so the cataloguing needs to be even more precise in a context like this. And maybe the film format, since we want it to be grandiose on the big screen, and a feature from Radio-Canada, we don’t need the same kind of format. And so, each institution has its own stakes because of their very nature and value of the content.
Claude Joli-Coeur: And you don’t have a deposit of all that you do at Library and Archives?
Patrick Monette: No, that’s the thing. Because Radio-Canada uses its content a lot in its productions. At RDI, we have four archivists who work full-time to offer the content, the public stuff. As much radio and television programs as other projects. It’s obvious that we have a tendency to keep our content here at the mother house at Radio-Canada or at CBC to be able to reuse them and it’s a sample of what we can share with Mr. Berthiaume. That there’s an exchange between our institutions.
André Desrochers: Us in the community media, it’s the same challenge. If you don’t have any money, imagine us. We roll with annual budgets below $100,000 dollars. And so it’s the coordination, and now with the digital plan, speaking of Quebec, but also in the rest of Canada, we’re noticing what platform are we going to use so that it’s available to everyone? We have a project, we call it our community Netflix, where all the community television stations can assemble under one network, one interface but the tube needs to be big for it to go and retrieve, and it’s a little the opposite of you, we ask ourselves, who are we to say what’s good and what’s not good from what the community has produced? In community television, the content is produced by, for, and with the community for subjects that they want. Subjects that they hold close to their heart. If I take just in our region, there’s a pipeline, Energy East, that’s going to pass through. There are people who are for it, and there are people who aren’t. And for numerous years, we can find the archives of different engagements, different politicians, and so the people use this… “Do you still have the interview we did three years ago? Do you still have…” “Yes, but I have it in VHS format. I have it in DVD format” how do we transmit all of that? The challenge of cataloguing… there are certain TV stations that are arrived, returned a little, and have started. For the most part, we will start it in Quebec. In Canada, there’s a lot less community television. We already have roughly 50 in Quebec but in the rest of Canada, barely the half of that. But it’s a challenge of coordination, finding the funds, even if we’re ready to do it voluntarily with an archivist to go to you, then back to us, during his volunteer hours. There’s all this manpower, to say, but we’re looking for what platform, what format. Are we going to LTO? Are we going to … there are some who started with external hard drives but now we’re noticing it doesn’t last more than 2-3 years. And so what we thought we’d archived, we almost lost. Those who made DVDs, after playing them so much, they got scratched or some didn’t weather properly. And so the challenge is big even more with us to conserve but also to give everyone access to all these stories. There are community television stations that film senior citizens telling a legend, there are stories of places, and there are some who retold how the rivers used to be and how they are now. All information that could be useful for researchers. And so we don’t want to say, no this is good, no this isn’t good. With the community, we will digitize, and we want to catalogue, and it’s going to take a million words. We also have news and we have shows and so what key words, how to search, find, what’s the good cataloguing technique? The architecture is still to be defined. And there’s the challenge of the platform too and which is very difficult to find. I don’t know if eventually we’ll share with the NFB or with Library and Archives Canada… like in the times of “Challenge for Change” with the NFB, there was a stretch of community, what if there was a stretch in the NFB that’s for community television? We wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel and you already have the infrastructure and the modernized fashion of archiving or with Archives Canada, if we delegate to the local archives, to the archival centres that are recognized by the BANQ or by Archives Canada. Yes, we could reinvent the wheel but it would be one less challenge. We could share with our local centre all the content that could be discoverable by everyone.
Claude Joli-Coeur: That brings me to my next question – what should be the government’s role in all this? Minister Joly just launched a consultation on digitization. Certainly, this is something that must be envisioned. I remember following the digital plan that the French launched in… maybe 2010? During President Sarkozy’s time. He dedicated a considerable amount of methods to the digitization of their heritage collections. In France, they have a rather unique organization called the Institut national de l’audiovisuel which records, in real time, everything that is broadcast in France and they archive everything. If you have the opportunity to visit their facilities, it’s all the channels, all the radios, everything is digitalized in real time, archived… and we’re far from that but it’s maybe an inaccessible luxury. And so, what should be the role of public services in a collective organization? In traditional content? And also, what do we do with the non-traditional content that has some sort of heritage value?
Guy Berthiaume: Notably… we think of Twitter, and Facebook… what we call the Twitterature – people who write poems in a series of tweets. But if we don’t caption them…
Claude Joli-Coeur: Are there people who put movies on YouTube?
Guy Berthiaume: Absolutely, that don’t have any other support. Self-publication on Amazon is big. Recently, we saw some statistics that mentioned that the advent of the e-book is declining in the United States. There are people who are contesting that, in fact… since Amazon doesn’t release those kind of statistics. The thing is that there’s a significant part of publications that are done on what we once called ‘the author’s account’ on Kindle that escapes the statistics and so these aren’t caught either. There’s no legal deposit. There are so many things that are going on in the visual arts… our colleague from the museum can speak to this; there are ephemeral arts that only exist in a digital world. It’s a major concern to capture a small sample of this. The Library of Congress once said that they were capturing all tweets and they never disclosed this but they don’t do it anymore because… Even if we can say, it’s all virtual and it fills up servers. We can imagine these servers but… In short, the question of the central government’s role… For starters, I say, and you’ve evoked this, is to create standards of interoperability. I think it’s a little naive to think that this will come from the source, from the base, from people who barely get by on modest resources and who are not going to dedicate needed funds to hire people and to think about the standards of digitization, etc. I think that a central organization should do it, and it should be the people who bring others together, who can draw upon, in our sphere of influence, everything that’s being done. I think doing this is already (unintelligible) and it’s doing things that nobody else will do.
Claude Joli-Coeur: Share information centrally?
Guy Berthiaume: Yes, and again, to define, and be at the peak of international development, and define the most important standards. We will never be perfect and we have to have confidence that the generations to follow will be just as intelligent as us. If we find solutions, they’ll find some too. But at least to work on the norms, the standards, nobody will do it in our place.
Claude Joli-Coeur: At least in the media stories, we can’t even imagine what is coming. So, if we do well what we are able to do, the next generation should be able to follow.
Nicolas Gauvin: I’m leaning in the same direction as our colleague from the archives. In the direction that in this era of globality, I find that our government should play a role of instigator or stimulator rather than implement structures that attempt to capture everything because not only do I think this is impossible but in the future, we’re going to ask ourselves the question of the pertinence of this. And so, I lean towards imposing infrastructures and implementing guidelines to capture challenges and to meet a variety of different institutions. We can’t hide ourselves either… Canada represents challenges in terms of territory, and so, on that side, we have a role to play, even at the international level. I’m more favourable towards insisting… or putting in place structures to favour this but not undertake to do it.
Claude Joli-Coeur: In your circle of museums, is there will to have groupings of intelligence like this… to
Nicolas Gauvin Three years ago, there was a network of history museums throughout Canada and what we would hope to do, but which keeps posing challenges, is to implement another type of structure which we call “affiliates.” This style would be advantageous to play a leadership role to work with smaller institutions like those in the community or medium in size to help them to accomplish their mandate. It’s more general, obviously, to develop projects but notably, there’s a lot of demand at the level of archiving about how to render things accessible online. And so, at the level of the network, we are working with medium to large museums and governmental institutions, there’s your institution, there’s Library and Archives… and we are trying to find territories… not territories of understanding but more projects or ideas that in sort merge these resources together for the benefit of the public in a way that is both economic and practical, to economize resources and so that the work that is being done becomes some sort of synergy… That we aren’t working each on our own sides but rather to answer to challenges that all of us come across together.
Claude Joli-Coeur: At the Radio-Canada level, is there also in the community of public service broadcasters at Radio-Canada… do you share… I don’t want to ask the question that kills but do you share even among the French services and English services? Do you speak to each other?
Patrick Monette: Of course, absolutely.
Claude Joli-Coeur: At the other level of public broadcasters, are there collaborations? Are there … or is everyone pretty much in their own corner?
Patrick Monette: Well, what I would tell you is that… I reassure you that Radio-Canada and CBC work on the same business plan together, as well as with partners. But I believe that Radio-Canada has a lot of content and of course, there’s certainly this habit of keeping archival services close. And so, there aren’t many links with other public radio television services. What we have done though for digitizing is that we’ve done benchmarking in Europe and in the United States, and so to see institutions, broadcasters that have just as much content – how did they do it and how did they attack this challenge? A little like Mr. Berthiaume did to digitize certain audio-visual content, it’s a benchmarking that is international… we did the same thing. It’s in this context that we have partner exchanges with l’INA… actually we visited l’INA to see what their infrastructure was, how did they put their work process together, and how were they able to work this in order to replicate this function in our institution.
André Desrochers: For us, in terms of what was coming up, the CRTC had announced its politics for community television. We, CACTUS, organized the first forum of all community-based media in Canada last fall. We asked people through a questionnaire, what would you like us to discuss during the summit? And a lot of people said, speak about archiving. So we brought in people from elsewhere, from the United States, among other places, who brought us a model of archiving that’s called Archive.Org It’s an online archive based in California. It’s in an old church with millions of servers. They catalogued everything according to different media and there’s a section for community media, so they invited us to share with them and to be on it. One of the recommendations in listening to everyone, the radio, the media, online gaming community, they recommended… can the government have the responsibility of defining the structure so that we don’t have to each reinvent the wheel. If we have so few resources, we could simply ally ourselves with you and become partners, and help you to catalogue and such. The forum permitted to show that community partners would like that departments, different public organizations, help the community to archive itself, to make itself discoverable. We have televisions and radios in the Far North. They’re alone, trying to… there’s one community radio that could give all the information during the fire at Fort McMurray… the community radio would say get yourself to this location… on the TV they were just saying, well there’s a fire, and the big newspapers were just reporting the facts but in that instance, the radio really had an application. Like during the ice storm in Quebec, the community television station, we didn’t have anything. The community television station at Chateauguay made a video that the federation reported everywhere. We didn’t have any more wood. Nobody had any wood. Because we sent a message through community television, two days later, tens of timber trucks came from Victoriaville and Bois-Francs. And so, there’s an impact in that if we can harmonize with public institutions, we would have a bigger synergy, I think.
Claude Joli-Coeur: We have ten minutes left. I’d like to direct us towards the path of algorithms. How will the wider public get access to all of what we’ve been talking about? Will it be via commercial search engines or will it be uniquely through the portals of each institution? How do you see the future of this interconnection between what we’re used to doing every day in our traditional search engines that control the way everything shows up, and our own entry systems where people will be able to find content?
Guy Berthiaume: I’m a little of the 2.0 school. There was a first movement to fight against Google, to oppose ourselves to Amazon and I’m the opposite of that. 85% of the people who come and consult our documents were brought to us by Google and so… “why fight it?” I know we’re in the French panel but we’re not going to do that.
Claude Joli-Coeur: And so those systems feed your…
Guy Berthiaume: Yes, that’s it. To do… Wikipedia is the same. In the beginning, I’m a historian by profession, in the beginning the profession… but now it’s not like that. Everyone starts by browsing Wikipedia and so what we need to do is feed those systems, to create links between Wikipedia and our collections, to create links that will quickly make our documents appear higher on Google. We can’t try to beat this. That’s absurd. I’m not an algorithm specialist, but people’s expectation with regard to libraries is modeled a bit after Amazon. When you go on Amazon, they’ll suggest books in relation to your previous choices or even what you haven’t bought. People expect this from libraries now because now when they have access to library websites, the site will suggest something new according to their reading habits. I’m all for it but once again, but I’m all for hitching my wagon to the train because I’ll never be able to compete with it. It reminds of Minitel. Once they were the first, and then they were surpassed and they were slow to give up and…
Nicolas Gauvin: I think we’re very much in a similar situation, as I was saying earlier about this idea of accessibility. For us… when Google Maps started making references to certain pieces of art, and all that… it certainly augments the knowledge of what we do and what we have, but we have a parallel challenge in that our internal infrastructure for consultations, whether it has to do with the professionals or the wider public, must be put back in place and we’ve just installed a DAM, a tool to manage the different…
Claude Joli-Coeur: A digital asset management.
Nicolas Gauvin: Digital management and so… on the other hand, I think we don’t want to oppose the accessibility offered by different services that are much more global… to create this kind of…
Claude Joli-Coeur: You create these bridges so that the material can be the most accessible possible.
Nicolas Gauvin: That’s exactly it.
Patrick Monette: For Radio-Canada, in terms of content, contextualization is very important. And so, certainly, we are doing different pilot projects. For example, we’ve done a lot of audio content recently, in order to make a product like “Première Plus,” and “Première Plus” features 11 themes with all archival interviews, with archived audio, and that permits us to do 1+1. We digitize a project and we enhance it with a tool, but also put it into context under a thematic format. There are a lot of links like this that we prefer at the moment. There is also… with current events, I would say… so with our Facebook, the links on multiple platforms, and whenever something happens in the news, the arrival of Syrian refugees, we do reports on the “Boat People” in 1978 and we put it together and give it context. So every time we try to give depth, rigour, and enhance our content within a context. And so when we talk about discoverability, it’s the link between today’s occurrences and we can put more layers, more perspectives, it’s time to aim and get that content up. Like an exhibition, it can be factual… and so with “Femmes d’aujourd’hui”, it’s been 50 years for our partnership with Laval University, we brought together past presenters and current ones, and we opened the call to everyone, so people from the wider public came… and so we can work together on exhibitions on “Les Belles Histoires des pays d’en haut,” with the underlying subject of the Olympics, so there’s all this content that we can focus on, but there are all these items that we need to properly target and ensure that it makes sense among everything.
André Desrochers: We’re waiting… so instead of inventing, we’re waiting to be told. Because we were told that LTO was the best. It’ll last 100 years. Okay, but maybe not.
Claude Joli-Coeur: That’s the struggle we have, as federal institutions, to combine our knowledge, to organize it in such a way that people can benefit from it at different organizations that are in the midst of what we do… that will be able to… as Guy said, hitch their wagon to the train. And I think with the Minister’s consultation, we have the opportunity to really organize our thoughts and our actions in order to… because it’s a big challenge just to organize ourselves and to reflect on this… and so if we have the platform, this is the chance to do it.
Nicolas Gauvin: I think for us what remains interesting is that for the media exhibit, we’ve become adept in the evaluation of what visitors think in relation to their expectations, the experiences they wish to have, etc. I’d say that with regard to what is accessible online, we need the opportunity to organize ourselves to have a better understanding, on our part anyways, of people’s behaviour, what they’re looking for, what they want, in order to be able to offer them what they’re looking for. I think it’s been done in regards to whether people consult our site in order to discover the content we offer, for example, on our collections, or simply because they wish to know what time we’re open. That, at least, we’re capable of measuring. Prior to this, we’ve done things by telling ourselves that the public will adapt. Now I think we’ve flipped it around completely and we want to cater to the demands of the public, but at the level of everything digital, we need more data. And one thing that I didn’t get a chance to talk about in regards to what’s challenging for us in making everything accessible is bilingualism. The history of the museum is such that the researchers who made up the bulk of the collections made them in the language of their choice. At the moment that we open everything, we expose ourselves because it’s in the language in which the person worked. And so for us, at the resource level, it’s something that remains a big challenge for a national museum because we have this obligation to make the information accessible in the two languages.
Claude Joli-Coeur: I can’t help myself because we’re going to have a demonstration of all kinds of technology… when will a virtual visit of the museum happen where we will be able to see the exhibitions, no matter where we find ourselves, in Canada, or the world?
Nicolas Gauvin: In the language of our choice.
André Desrochers: We proposed to the CRTC during the last hearing to create community media centres where radio, television, everything that’s community-based, according to a given community that everyone wants. And at the same time, we made connections with certain libraries, mostly in Ontario, and now the libraries want to become gathering centres, not only of books, but they are also inviting us to participate by bringing community television, community radio, we will become a gathering location.
Claude Joli-Coeur: There’s a real movement. I was in Calgary this weekend and I saw the library was under construction. That’ll be that… In Halifax, it just opened.
André Desrochers: At the local level, that’s what we want. We proposed it to the CRTC and they even asked us to develop a pilot project and so we proposed it and we hope…
Claude Joli-Coeur: This is where the personal experience connects to the virtual experience.
I think we’re… I haven’t gotten a sign yet. It’s 11:07. Another three minutes?
Question 1: [inaudible]
Claude Joli-Coeur: Interesting. Comment? Yes.
Question 2: [inaudible]
Guy Berthiaume: Like everyone said, the fact that we’re a national institution, paid for by everyone’s taxes, ensures that digitization enables us to better serve the needs of everyone… even though I said it, and I still stand by it, there are more people who go to the museum or the library because they were attracted by the digital content. That doesn’t stop the fact that for the majority of people, whether in Washington, Paris, Ottawa, it wouldn’t be possible. And so, the more we share, the more we enter our content to make it accessible on the Internet, we’ll be better at accomplishing our mission to better serve Canadians and make content accessible. But once we’ve said that, then we have to do it. I can’t speak for NFB or Radio-Canada, but in the case of museums, we call ourselves the GLAMs, a little David Bowie effect. It’s galleries, libraries, archives, and museums, in our case, it’s the opposite. Even if we could see the Mona Lisa on our phones within seconds, there are millions of people who line up every year to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, and so that kind of effect, we have to take it into consideration, and so the budgetary plan, it’s no longer a question of choice but it’s a question of searching within our organizations for the economic margins to invest into digitalization.
Nicolas Gauvin: I would say it’s profitable in both senses. The more we put stuff online, the more… for many, we don’t have a lot of information, so we could get more information on our collections by opening it to the public. We make it accessible to those who cannot make it into the museum, and they become aware of certain objects that are housed in our museum that they weren’t aware of. We could benefit eventually, so we’re preparing ourselves on that end of things in order to give access to our objects so that people can at least see them even if they can’t come to us to see them in person. It can be beneficial. It’s just that we’ve be partitioning our resources, the physical and the museum visit, and we’re left to better portion those expenses in order to have a better balance, I would say.
Patrick Monette And concerning Radio-Canada, we’re in an area of production without tapes. And so certainly, today, television and shows are made quickly. And so to have access to content that’s already digitalized means you can use it even more in your productions and create original productions with archival materials. But we can further benefit from investing in the mission; it highlights and supports the mission. Because today, there’s a huge section that’s not digital but we produce 100,000 tapes from our vaults for all of our radio and TV shows so that over time, with digitization and investments, everyone can access excerpts from their own laptop or desk without going through a point-to-point digitization; it’s a direct return on investments in the mission. But it’s a lot of money to invest and so… that’s the challenge.
Claude Joli-Coeur: In the process for new productions, it’s integrated but it’s catching up with all the years of production.
Question 3: [inaudible]
André Desrochers: The idea that we were talking about with the woman earlier, with the CRTC, that if we succeed in putting together these media centres, we could create this big community cloud, even if it’s no longer local, if the community television station from New-Brunswick filmed a way of fishing lobster, another fishing community on the other side of the Atlantic sees that and they could share the content with each other without necessarily putting it over the air, but being able to see what they are doing over there and here. There are communications like that which certainly would be beneficial. Certainly, it’s expensive but we’re going to try to do it within the budget that we have. There’s no way it cannot be beneficial. It’s profitable for everyone to discover all that we have everywhere throughout the country.
Claude Joli-Coeur: Last question. Oh, yes.
Question 4: Without underestimating the immense task of digitizing, archiving, budgeting, etc., you both mention how to add value, in the cloud, to the archived product and the link with current events, for example. Have you, maybe for the others, seen or had any good hits within that domain in regards to sharing that archived product… that people are going to find it, are watching it, or bringing it back home or consulting it… are there new strategies or new hits that you’ve seen?
Claude Joli-Coeur: For us, putting films online… there are regularly links to current events or to events… our collections are a little… like we’re always looking to put forward a production that might have a link with something else. We did a web documentary on Fort McMurray and that was linked to the recent events, and that always gives us the opportunity to ensure that the content follows the needs of our audience.
André Desrochers: I can speak about the community television station in Vaudreuil-Soulanges. We’ve just put in place a project called “Panorama”… thanks to the MRC, CLD, the churches, the local youth centre, everyone is going to participate in the filming of the rural zones and urban zones of the sector of Vaudreuil-Soulanges, which is twice as big as the island of Montréal in terms of area, and we are going to, with the local archival centre… we got together to put in place, on the cloud, pictures so that people can see what it’s like today in 2016, the region of Vaudreuil-Soulanges, in comparison with all the pictures we’ve taken since 2010 and we’re going to link all the pictures that the old Télé-Vaudreuil, which died in 1999, had taken and that we recovered on ¾ inch… and we are going to make this all accessible for people, at no cost, on the archival centre site. The archival centre is hoping to get visits. The archival centre has all kinds of things, not just videos. We’re going to create a foundation, on the TV, that’ll be accessible to everyone so that they can benefit from the pictures, and sounds. We’re going to make sound bites. I’m just thinking of Highway 30. We took pictures over three years. No Highway 30, half of Highway 30, and all of Highway 30. The landscape has completely changed in Vaudreuil-Soulanges with Highway 30.
Guy Berthiaume: Madam.
Question 5: [inaudible]
Claude Joli-Coeur: Us, we have projects linked with the 150th anniversary, 375th of Montreal, to the 50th of the Expo. And so based on what we have, we are going to put forth a lot to the forefront of what we have. There will certainly be a lot of volumes dedicated to the recall of history…
Patrick Monette: On the side of the social, historical, cultural… for the 90th of the institution but also in relation to the 375th and the 150th, there are products that are currently being designed and we are going to celebrate, certainly.
Nicolas Gauvin: For us, we are currently undergoing a project to renovate the Canada history room, which opened 25 years ago and that’ll be open July 1st next year. This event has played an important role in us turning towards the digital because to be ahead of the game, we had to invest a lot into those kinds of infrastructures. There obviously will be some repercussions once the room is open with the rapport we maintain with our virtual visitors and those who will come visit us.
Claude Joli-Coeur: Thank you very much.