National Archives sign at Kew Gardens Station

National Archives sign at Kew Gardens Station


Colonial North American Project at Harvard University

Harvard University has embarked on a remarkable multi-year project to digitize and make freely available all 17th and 18th century archival records and publications from all its campus repositories relating to life in colonial North America. This ambitious enterprise is called the Colonial North Amercian Project at Harvard University.

In addition to the collection itself, there are also a series of thematic essays which provide deeper insight into the contents of this digital library and archives.

It appears that the public interface is powered by the Omeka open source software.


BitCurator Consortium launches website

The BitCurator Consortium (BCC) has launched its website at The website contains numerous information resources about the BitCurator Consortium, digital forensics, and more.

The BCC is an independent, community-led membership association that supports the curation of born-digital materials by libraries, archives, and museums. Members of the BitCurator user community founded BCC in 2014 to enhance, promote, and explore this growing area of professional activity.

The BitCurator environment is an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution that includes open source and public domain digital forensics tools, as well as unique reporting mechanisms and user interfaces, designed to assist libraries, archives, and museums with the curation of born-digital materials. Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the BitCurator project has developed, packaged, and documented open-source forensics and data analysis tools to create forensic disk images, analyze files and file systems, extract file system metadata, identify and redact sensitive information, and identify and remove duplicate files.

The BCC operates as an affiliated community of the Educopia Institute, a nonprofit organization that advances cultural, scientific, and scholarly institutions by catalyzing networks and collaborative communities to facilitate collective impact.

Source: edited from ARCAN-L, "Announcement: New BitCurator Consortium Website!", 020150903


Digital Library Federation DLF Forum meeting in Vancouver, BC, Canada, October 02015

The Digital Library Federation is holdings its DLF Forum in Vancouver, BC, Canada from October 26 to 28, 02015. The call for paper proposals is open until June 22, 02015 and the program will be announced in August. This is the first time the meeting has been held outside the United States.


Library and Archives Canada restores archival development funding

Library and Archives Canada's new Documentary Heritage Communities Program (DHCP) appears to replace the National Archival Development Program (NADP) that the Library and Archives Canada cancelled more than three years ago. According to the Guidelines page,

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is investing $8,698,000 million over five (5) years to implement the Documentary Heritage Communities Program (DHCP) to ensure Canada's continuing memory is documented and accessible to current and future generations by adopting a more collaborative approach with local documentary heritage communities. The program will be delivered in the form of contributions, which are based on eligibility criteria.

The contributions will support the development of Canada's local archival and library communities by increasing their capacity to preserve, provide access to and promote documentary heritage and will provide opportunities for local documentary heritage communities to evolve and remain sustainable and strategic.

As posted on the ARCAN-L mailing list on June 12, 02015 by Hilary Morgan, Director, Stakeholder Relations and International Affairs,Library and Archives Canada:

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is pleased to announce the launch of its new Documentary Heritage Communities Program (DHCP). This contribution program is a collaborative approach which will ensure the outreach of Canada’s local documentary heritage communities.

The contributions will support the development of Canada’s local archival and library communities, as well as their professional associations, by increasing their capacity to preserve, provide access to and promote documentary heritage and will provide opportunities for local documentary heritage communities to evolve and remain sustainable.

LAC invites all eligible organizations to apply at their earliest convenience. The deadline for the 2015 funding cycle is September 4, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time.
Additional information on the DHCP, including eligibility criteria for organizations and initiatives can be found on LAC’s website ( or by contacting LAC at (819) 997-0893 or 1-844-757-8035 (toll-free in Canada and the US).
Associated Links

DHCP Website (

Guidelines (
Documentary Heritage Communities Program
Telephone: (819) 997-0893 or 1-844-757-8035 (toll-free in Canada and the US)

About Library and Archives Canada
The mandate of Library and Archives Canada is to preserve the documentary heritage of Canada for the benefit of present and future generations, and to be a source of enduring knowledge accessible to all, thereby contributing to the cultural, social and economic advancement of Canada. Library and Archives Canada also facilitates cooperation among communities involved in the acquisition, preservation and diffusion of knowledge, and serves as the continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions. Stay connected with Library and Archives Canada on Twitter ( (@LibraryArchives), Facebook (, Flickr ( and YouTube (


Hug an archivist: happy International Archives Day 02015

June 9, 02015 is International Archives Day. Here is the official blurb as posted on the mailing list ARCAN-L about the importance of International Archives Day and why you should hug an archivist today. I did not mean that literally, however, archivists and archives need our support as much as fire departments, police departments and libraries:

The International Council on Archives invites the world to celebrate International Archives Day on June 9!

All around the world, archivists will unite their voices on International Archives Day, June 9, to make the public understand why it is important to support archives and the profession. An excellent opportunity to discover or better know the archival profession, and to get in closer touch with a fascinating domain!

June 9 was launched in 2007 as International Archives Day because on the 9th of June 1948, the International Council on Archives (ICA) was created under the auspices of the UNESCO. This choice was adopted by the archives community as a whole around the world.

On this important universal awareness day, the President of the International Council on Archives, David Fricker reminds us to recognize the unique quality of archives as authentic evidence of administrative, cultural and intellectual activities and as a reflection of the evolution of societies. We also recognize the role of archivists in supporting the creation of records and making records available for use.

David Fricker says: "Archivists are the keepers of memory, bringing the past into the present.  Archivists make these primary sources available so that citizens can make their own sense of the past, to understand ourselves and to make informed decisions about the future" adding that "The Archivists true obligation is not to the past or even the present; archivists must always think of the future."

How to join the celebration of International Archives Day 2015

You will have the opportunity to celebrate this Day in your country, through activities and events organized by national or local archives institutions or professional associations.

In addition, archivists look forward to sharing their unique, extraordinary and rare treasures with you everywhere in the world. You will view these treasures at

The ICA also developed the Universal Declaration on Archives which is a powerful, succinct statement of the relevance of archives in modern society.  On June 9, register your support for archives by signing the ICA online register at


1912 Goad Fire Insurance Plan now available in Vanmap

Vanmap, a geomatics tool from the City of Vancouver, now includes a layer representing Goad’s 1912 Fire Insurance Plan contributed by the City of Vancouver Archives. The fire insurance plan data is also available through the city's Open Data Catalogue. You can read an extensive description by the city archives about the fire insurance plan.


Royal BC Museum launches crowd-sourcing transcription project

From the announcement circulated to mailing lists such as ARCAN-L:

Today, to celebrate National Volunteer Week, the Royal BC Museum launched Transcribe (, a crowd-sourcing website that invites the public to transcribe valuable historical records from our archival collection.


Wonder becomes reality: BC Government reaches agreement with Royal BC Museum on transfer of thousands of boxes to the BC Archives

You read it here first when I posted in early March 02015 a reflection about Bill 5, the Government Information Act that is working its way through the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia:
I wonder too whether with this new legislation the door may be opening for the payment of a one-time fee and transfer of thousands of boxes to the "museum archives of government" as the bill styles the Royal BC Museum.
On April 15, 02015 the BC Government announced that it had reached an agreement with the Royal BC Museum to begin funding the transfer of government records to the BC Archives.

According to the BC Government news release,

The agreement includes:
  • Commitment to fund storage of government records being transferred to RBCM now and in the future (up-front payment for first 20 years).
  • Government will provide up to $400,000/yr. funding to the RBCM for the costs of arranging, cataloguing and preserving newly transferred and future records (to be reviewed after five years).
  • The RBCM will cover storage, arrangement, cataloguing and preservation costs relating to previously transferred archival records from its existing budget.
The agreement (memorandum of understanding) is included as part of the news release at 

Congratulations to all involved in accomplishing this agreement, far more than I thought would be possible. I know from having worked at the BC Archives after it was amalgamated with the Royal BC Museum that there was a great deal of skepticism that any kind of accommodation with government would ever be reached. Thankfully, that goal has now been achieved.


"Tackling the wicked problem of managing records in the digital environment" lecture, Victoria, BC, April 21, 02015

As part of the Archives Association of British Columbia's pre-conference, Dr. Julie McLeod,  Professor in Records Management, iSchool, Northumbria University, United Kingdom, will present a lecture titled "Tackling the wicked problem of managing records in the digital environment".

The lecture will be held on April 21, 02015 at St. Ann's Academy Auditorium, 835 Humboldt St., Victoria, BC, from 10 am to 11 am. Pre-registration at a cost of $10 is required by April 20. You can pre-register at

Further details and updates are at


British Columbia Government Information Act begins second reading in Legislative Assembly

Update for March 3, 02015: The second reading of Bill, the Government Information Act, began on March 2, 02015 in the British Columbia Legislative Assembly. The Hansard transcript is here:

In speaking about the bill, opposition member Doug Routley gave a lengthy critique and highlighted the 33,000 boxes of records in government warehouses awaiting transfer to the BC Archives, part of the Royal BC Museum.

 Original post: British Columbia government introduces legislation to create government digital archives

The British Columbia government introduced Bill 5, the Government Information Act, on February 12, 02015. The main purpose of the act is to repeal the 1936 Document Disposal Act. The new act will also establish a "digital archives for government information" and mandate a new position, the chief records officer, who will be "responsible for managing, securing and preserving the digital archives." The digitization of government information will become mandatory under this legislation unless the information is exempt from being digitized. Information in a non-digital form "must be digitized before it is archived."

Although it is open for interpretation and clarification, section 20(2)(e) appears to lay the groundwork for the government to begin paying fees to the Royal BC Museum for archival services. Except in a few very special circumstances, the Royal BC Museum has not taken in government records for over a decade. The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner highlighted this situation in its July 02014 special report A Failure to Archive: Recommendations to Modernize Government Information Management. Could this bill be a response to the OIPCBC's report?

I wonder too whether with this new legislation the door may be opening for the payment of a one-time fee and transfer of thousands of boxes to the "museum archives of government" as the bill styles the Royal BC Museum.

The first reading version of the bill is at

A news release offers some additional information: the "digital archives will be open to the public and searchable online" and "The transition to digital information management will begin in the spring of 2015 and is expected to take three years."

The Victoria newspaper Times-Colonist's article about Bill 5 is here.


Alice turns 150

The sesquicentennial of the publication of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is 2015. Happy birthday! The Lewis Carroll Society of North America has information on events and commemorations for Alice150.


Denmark presents digitized cultural heritage to the world

According to this BBC News story, Denmark has opened its digitized cultural heritage of over two million images and other types of content to the world. The site is called arkivdk. The content comes from over 500 Danish archives. There appears to be no English language interface as yet.


Key reports and publications in Canadian archival history

The Association of Canadian Archivists created a page pulling together Key Reports and Publications in Canadian Archival History. The documents span the development of Canadian archives from the 19th century to the present.


Google executive despairs of a digital dark age

People notice when a Google executive talks about a digital dark age. Vint Cerf, an Internet pioneer and Google executive, was speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting and warning of "bit rot" and "digital vellum" to stem the tide of an "information black hole".

Ironically, as The Atlantic reported in its take on this story, there was a fire at a Brooklyn warehouse two weeks ago that

smogged up the Brooklyn ether (and confettied parts of the East River) with "decades’ worth of charred medical records, court transcripts, lawyers’ letters, sonograms, bank checks, and more." Huge swaths of Brooklyn's legal history literally fueled the fire, leaving one Clerk's Office representative to lament of the stacks of data lost: "They're priceless."
Of course archivists and technologists have been arguing for years over the most effective methods for digital preservation to prevent a digital dark age. No one set of methods appear to be accepted among the community. Cerf favors something called Olive (Open Library of Images for Virtualized Execution) under development by Carnegie Mellon University in association with IBM Research. They've had some success in virtualizing software such as Apple's last version of HyperCard and Microsoft Office 6.0.


Alien invasion imminent (in galactic time)?

If the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in California gets its way, we'll be inviting aliens to Earth. I think this is an extremely bad idea. While the chances are extremely remote that we'd see a single space craft in Earth orbit any time soon, I come down on the side of the sci-fi camp that says the only reason to make such an interstellar journey is for the resources along the way. And civilizations capable of making such a journey will more than likely not be benevolent. Even the alien refugees or whatever they were in the brilliant District 9 film had weapons and avionics technology superior to ours. And while we managed to contain them, only because there ship was somehow temporarily disabled, the film's ending seemed to portend a rescue and retribution scenario.