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September/October 2003
Vol. 35, no. 5
ISSN 1492-4676

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A Year of Anniversaries: CIHM Turns 25

Elizabeth A. Morton, 50th Anniversary Coordinator

On June 13, 2003, Library and Archives Canada celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions (CIHM). CIHM was established by the Canada Council for the Arts in 1978 to preserve and provide access to 350 years of Canadaís printed heritage, and it has gone on to develop the most complete virtual library of Canadiana anywhere (see www.canadiana.org). Thanks to CIHM, over 90,000 rare and fragile early Canadian publications are available on microfiche in libraries across Canada and abroad, and 1.3 million pages are available electronically with full-text searching capability via CIHMís online digital library, Early Canadiana Online (www.canadiana.org).

"The 25th anniversary of the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions is a cause for national celebration," said National Librarian Roch Carrier as he welcomed guests to the morning event held in the lobby of the main Library and Archives Canada building at 395 Wellington. "CIHM is known nationally and internationally for its leadership and willing adoption of emerging technology, and the Library is proud to have worked with CIHM to preserve Canadaís published heritage."

The National Library has worked in collaboration with CIHM since its founding, and Library and Archives Canada continues to support CIHM by providing office facilities, including systems and LAN support. About 60 per cent of the titles that make up the CIHM virtual library have come from the collections of the National Library, and CIHM in turn provides Library and Archives Canada with a preservation microfilm copy and bibliographic data for each title filmed.

CIHMís founding executive director and current vice-president, Ernie Ingles, was the master of ceremonies for the festivities. Associate Vice-President (Learning Services) and Chief Librarian at the University of Alberta, Ingles regaled the audience of past and current CIHM board members and stakeholders from the library community with anecdotes from the early life of CIHM. He also thanked all CIHM supporters over the years, including the National Library of Canada, the research community, the Government of Canada, and sponsors both corporate and private. He concluded his remarks with a special tribute to the dedication of the CIHM staff past and present, including CIHMís current executive director, Magdalene Albert.

Jan Cellucci, wife of the United States Ambassador to Canada, spoke about her visit to CIHM last spring and how important the work of CIHM is to Canadian preservation initiatives. Prior to coming to Canada, Mrs. Cellucci was Head of Preservation and Associate University Librarian for collection services at Boston College, and as a member of the University of British Columbia Presidentís Advisory Council on the University Library, she has visited research libraries across Canada. Mrs. Cellucci is an honorary director of the Friends of Library and Archives Canada and co-curated the rare books exhibition On the Road at the Library and Archives in March 2003.

François-Marc Gagnon, professor emeritus in the Department of Art History and Cinematographic Studies at the Université de Montréal and a former member of the CIHM board, entertained the audience with a beaver tale that he discovered using the resources of CIHM while doing research for his book Images du castor canadien, XVIe-XVIIIe siècles.

CIHM President Jean-Claude Robert presented cash prizes and certificates to the winners in the essay contest held by CIHM for students in junior high and high school as part of its 25th anniversary: Patricia Hickey, Toronto, Ontario, won in the Grade 9-10 (French-language) category for her paper "Les femmes canadiennes au XXe siècle"; in the Grade 9-10 (English-language) category, "The History of Canadaís Fishing Industry" by Michael Michalchuk, Kenora, Ontario, tied with "A Riel Re-Trial: Rebel with a Cause" by Daniella Murynka, Calgary, Alberta; and Steven Pisecny, Toronto, Ontario, won in the Grade 7-8 (English-language) category for "The Contributions of Fishing to Canada When It Was a Young Nation." Contestants were required to show that they had used CIHMís Early Canadiana Online Web site as part of their research.

Dr. Robert, who is a history professor at the Université du Québec à Montréal, also presented special recognition awards to former CIHM staff member Myriam McCormack, whose history of CIHM has been published in the Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada; to Céline Bélanger, CIHMís office administrator and the first employee hired; and to Ernie Ingles, who was so instrumental in getting CIHM going.

The highlight of the event was the launch of Childrenís Literature: A Feast of Titles / Délices de la littérature enfantine, a bilingual bibliography of childrenís literature materials produced by CIHM to mark the National Libraryís 50th anniversary (also available online at [PDF] www.canadiana.org/eco/doc/catalog25an.pdf).

"CIHM would not have been possible without the cooperation of the National Library, our partner for the last 25 years," said Dr. Robert as he presented a copy of the bibliography to Dr. Carrier.

Dr. Carrier thanked Dr. Robert and underlined the two institutionsí shared interest in preserving and providing access to early Canadian printed materials.

More detailed coverage of the event will appear in the special anniversary edition of CIHMís semi-annual publication Facsimile.