Wednesday, September 23, 2009

BIFHSGO Conference - LAC Comments

Friday evenings, at the start of the BIFHSGO conference's opening ceremonies, they have someone from the LAC give a talk about what is going on at the facility (followed by the guest speaker for the Don Whiteside Memorial Lecture).

For the past two years, it has been Doug Rimmer, LAC Assistant Deputy Minister (Programs & Services). This time, he gave us a rundown of the programs which are underway at the Library and Archives Canada.

He stated that the LAC is considered the world leader in digitization. Although some may disagree with that statement (newspapers aren't being done, for example), he pointed out that many things have been, and continue to be, digitized.

Coming soon, for example, is the digitization-on-demand of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Papers <>.

You will be able to order the papers (for which a file can have up to 25 pieces of paper, such as pay slips, history of injuries, and discharge papers), have them digitized, and then they will be put into the general digitized papers file and made available to everyone.

It will take some time to do all 600,000 files - but they will be done.

He went over some of the physical changes that have been made to the LAC building. For example, you can apply online for a research pass, there is improved signage which makes the facility more user-friendly, and you can now order material online.

Furthermore, you can now take your digital camera and photograph documents directly from the microfilm, or you can download the images to a CD-ROM or USB key (also known as a jump, or thumb, drive) at no cost.

On Friday afternoon, I was up on the third floor, hoping to download pages of The Maple Leaf newspaper (1907-1941)*, and found out that I couldn't (assuming it was because of copyright issues).

So a word to the wise - always check before you go there. In this case, the pages (because they were less than one hundred years old) cost 20 cents a copy! Anything else older than that was free to download.

The Maple Leaf newspaper kept Canadian ex-patriots in California informed about the news back home in the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.

* I was researching my great-aunt Annie Louisa Barclay, who married Caleb Scott Haley in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, and then settled in Newark, Alameda County, California.