Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The National Digital Library of Canada

I'm going to throw my support behind Michael Geist's latest idea - that it is Time for Canada to Create National Digital Library. Although I think the logistics of building such a collection and enforcing depository requirements, rather than Copyright issues, are the biggest challenges to the concept.

If you haven't read Michael's latest article in the Toronto Star, he's proposing a national digital library which would contain 'a digitally scanned copy of every book, government report, and legal decision ever published in Canada'.

While I'm not sure that LAC doesn't already have this collection mandate (based on content rather than technology/media), the project as a concept has a lot of merit. I like the idea of a national digital format collection for public domain materials published in Canada, and if you can Googlize it (with all the related media hype), all the better! It also has the potential to save some of the Library collections that are crumbling away on acidic paper.

I'm convinced Libraries and Librarians need to try new things to stay relevant, and putting ourselves in the middle of a highly visible and press friendly project could do nothing but good. It's quite possible the LAC is already on top of this (and I'm sorry if I'm out to lunch and they've had this type of project underway for the past 3 years... ), but it's the marketing that counts and our profile as a profession could certainly benefit from our participation.

I'd love to see Librarians in the middle of this type of initiative. I'd like it even better if a Librarian had come up with it. :-)

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