National Archives sign at Kew Gardens Station

National Archives sign at Kew Gardens Station


The Getty opens its public domain art to all

The Getty launched its Open Content Program on August 12, 02013 to make digital versions of its public domain artwork available to all. They went above and beyond, as have some other cultural organizations, by providing "high-resolution, reproduction-quality images with embedded metadata, some over 100 megabytes in size."

I applaud The Getty's decision and hope that many more cultural institutions will follow their example. In British Columbia, the City of Vancouver Archives has a comparable policy to the Getty. I would love to see my former employer, the Royal British Columbia Museum, step onto the open access/open content stage. Perhaps this will happen once the BC Archives, which has been part of the RBCM for a decade, converts its database systems for public access via the new content management system, work on which has been underway for at least five years. Amazingly, the existing BC Archives search system is nearly 20 years old, possibly a world record when it comes to public access Web-based databases.

I've always felt it was wrong for cultural institutions to charge money for the use or licensing of public domain content they were preserving since most if not all these organizations also held full rights to other content or could find other ways to generate revenue.

 For some further information about The Getty's decision, see President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust Jame Cuno's article "Open Content, An Idea Whose Time Has Come" in The Getty Iris.


Census of Canada 1921 available for free at

In one of those P3 (public-private partnership) deals, the first phase in the release of the 1921 Census of Canada was announced by the Library and Archives Canada on August 9, 2013. Here's how it reads:
Canadians can now browse the 1921 Census data of the Canadian population, free of charge on
The 1921 Census includes 197,529 images; it is therefore a massive electronic file to prepare and make accessible. Once it is fully indexed, this census will be the largest source of Canadian genealogical information online.
Researchers can explore the 197,529 pages of information through an index of districts and sub-districts. will also take the extra step of indexing 8.8 million names, addresses and other information for a searchable database, and developing advanced search tools to go along with it. Canadians will only be required to pay for the extra convenience of doing advanced searches from the comfort of their home. will assume the costs associated with this work and will offer a choice of free or paid access.
  • Free access will be possible in person at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and through hundreds of subscribing libraries across Canada. 
  • Free access to raw census records will be available online. 
  • Paid access will only be necessary if someone wants the extra convenience of doing advanced searches from home.
Individuals can make the most of their visit in Library and Archives Canada’s reading room in Ottawa by preparing in advance and consulting Preparing for a Visit or viewing the Orientation Services for Clients at 395 Wellington video or reading the blog post, The Top Five Things You Need to Know Before You Visit.

Canadians can access censuses taken before 1921 on Library and Archives Canada’s Census webpage.


Library and Archives Canada places of Census of Manitoba, 1870 online

The Library and Archives Canada has placed the Census of Manitoba, 1870 online. According to its news blurb of July 11, 02013,
This census was taken shortly after Manitoba joined Confederation.
This census provides the names of more than 12,200 individuals living in Manitoba at that time and contains information such as age, marital status, place of birth, religion, race and name of the father.
You can search the census by keywords, surname, given names and age.


RIP AltaVista

AltaVista, once the best search engine in the world, was put to rest by Yahoo! The announcement of its demise was made on June 28 as part of some other services Yahoo! was shutting down. When you visit as of July 8, you will be automatically re-directed to

2013-06-17 in beta on AtoM 2.0

Great to see, the national database of Canadian archival descriptions, running in beta mode under AtoM 2.0 (formerly ICA-AtoM). AtoM stands for Access to Memory. Only a small sampling of descriptions are available in the beta version. According to the header blurb, "Archival descriptions from archival institutions across all provinces and territories will be available when the site goes live at in September 2013." The Canadian Council on Archives, which nearly ceased to exist thanks to the Conservative Government's cutting the funding for the National Archival Development Program, is to be commended for persevering in the face of such humiliating circumstances. They rose to the challenge and I'm looking forward, since I manage the British Columbia equivalent of this database which is called MemoryBC, to the fall and beyond when all the BC descriptions can finally be updated.


Born Digital report available for public comments

In 2011, an international group of ten archivists and special collections curators gathered for the first of a series of conversations about how born-digital materials are acquired and transferred to archival repositories. The resulting report, Born Digital: Guidance for Donors, Dealers, and Archival Repositories, offers recommendations to help ensure the physical and intellectual well being of digital media and files during different stages of the acquisition process.

A draft of Born Digital has been published with MediaCommons Press, an innovative online publisher committed to open public review, and is currently open for your comments:
We invite you to read the report, share your thoughts via the easy-to-use commenting interface, and take part in a discussion with the larger community of people concerned about the acquisition and preservation of born-digital materials. Your feedback will provide an important level of peer review as the report’s co-authors continue revising and preparing Born Digital for final publication.
If you have any questions about the report, please contact Gabby Redwine at