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Le générique du Bulletin
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January/February 2003
Vol. 35, no. 1
ISSN 1492-4676

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Canadian Newspapers Online: A National Consultation

Ask any genealogist, librarian or academic researcher what type of access they would like to online newspapers and you’ll likely receive the same answer: the widest possible range of newspaper content made readily available on a minimum number of separate sites.

How this might be achieved was part of what was discussed when the National Library of Canada, the Canadian Initiative on Digital Libraries (CIDL) and the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS) met with representatives from the Canadian publishing industry, researchers, and their colleagues from various libraries, including the British Library, the Library of Congress and the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), to consult on long-term access and preservation of online newspapers.

The Library and Archives of Canada does not currently acquire Canadian online newspapers, nor does it engage in the digitization of its newspaper collections; however, it does house one of the country’s largest collections of newspapers, which includes print, microform and CD-ROM versions. To ensure that all Canadians have access to this and other newspaper collections throughout the country, now and in the future, the Library and Archives initiated a consultative process with various stakeholders with a view to partnership and collaboration.

Consultation participants came from diverse organizations, each with its unique perspective on the issues of preservation and access. Over the course of the talks, four areas were identified as of particular concern: the selection of content for long-term access, leadership, business models/funding, and technical issues.

The consultation clarified the need for a national digital newspaper strategy; however, to achieve the type of access that Canadians are seeking, much work remains to be done.

This type of collaboration between both public and private sector organizations is what is needed to tackle the challenge of long-term preservation and access to online newspapers, and it may also serve as a model for future collaborations in other areas.