The article you just read was brought to you by a few thousand dedicated readers. Will you join them?

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past year, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
Before you click away, we have something to ask you…

Do you value independent journalism that focuses on the issues that matter? Do you think Canada needs more in-depth, fact-based reporting? So do we. If you’d like to be part of the solution, we’d love it if you joined us in working on it.

The Tyee is an independent, paywall-free, reader-funded publication. While many other newsrooms are getting smaller or shutting down altogether, we’re bucking the trend and growing, while still keeping our articles free and open for everyone to read.

The reason why we’re able to grow and do more, and focus on quality reporting, is because our readers support us in doing that. Over 5,000 Tyee readers chip in to fund our newsroom on a monthly basis, and that supports our rockstar team of dedicated journalists.

Join a community of people who are helping to build a better journalism ecosystem. You pick the amount you’d like to contribute on a monthly basis, and you can cancel any time.

Help us make Canadian media better by joining Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
We're reader supported.
Get our newsletter free.
Help pay for our reporting.

Canada's Digital Library a Grassroots Effort

Feds passing up chance to preserve, share nation's cultural heritage.

By Michael Geist 18 Jan 2011 |

Michael Geist, whose column on digital policy and law runs every Tuesday on The Tyee, holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law. He can reached at or online at

image atom
Europe's digital library is taking off.

Last week, the European Commission released "The New Renaissance", an expert report on efforts to digitize Europe's cultural heritage. Europe has been particularly aggressive about its digitization efforts, developing Europeana, an online portal currently featuring more than 15 million works of art, books, music and film, as well as the European Library, which provides access to 24 million pages of full-text scanned by 14 national libraries.

Several European countries have set very ambitious digitization goals. The National Library of the Netherlands has committed to digitizing everything -- all Dutch books, newspapers and periodicals dating back to 1470. The National Library of Norway set a similar goal in 2005, setting in motion plans to digitize its entire collection that now includes 170,000 books, 250,000 newspapers, 610,000 hours of radio broadcasts, 200,000 hours of television and 500,000 photographs.

Building on those efforts, the report recommended that public domain works be digitized with public funding and be made freely available for access and re-use. It also called on lawmakers to develop policies to facilitate the digitization of works still subject to copyright protection.

Canada could have attempted something similar years ago by committing to its own national digital library. Library and Archives Canada was given responsibility for the issue but was unable to muster the necessary support for a comprehensive plan. Last year, it published a final report on its national digital information strategy, noting that it "brings to a close LAC's role as facilitator of the consultations."

Heritage Minister MIA

Leadership could have alternatively come from Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore and his department. Yet despite the fact that a national digital library would seem like a perfect fit for a department mandated to increase access and visibility of Canadian culture, the federal government has been largely missing-in-action.

In the absence of national leadership, a loosely connected coalition of local and provincial digitization initiatives have begun to take shape.

The LAC may not be prepared to lead on a national digital library, but it is beefing up its digital collection. For example, by the end of the year, Canadians will be able to access digitized images of original census documents from 1861 and 1871, which contain the name, age, country or province of birth, nationality, religion and occupation of Canadians at the time.

In Quebec, the Quebec Library and Archives is working toward digitizing all published and archival documentary heritage produced in the province since the 17th century with approximately 10 million objects digitized thus far.

The University of Toronto has been actively working with Internet Archive Canada to digitize about 300,000 public domain books. Meanwhile, the University of Alberta's Peel's Prairie Provinces digital collection has digitized nearly 3 million articles from 73 different newspapers.

Patchwork effort

Other universities from coast to coast have provincially focused digitization initiatives. Memorial University's Digital Archives Initiative focuses on Newfoundland and Labrador, the University of Saskatchewan has a collection of digitized items including poetry, Saskatchewan post cards, magazines, books, paintings and historical documents, and Simon Fraser University has digitized 250,000 pages of The Chinese Times daily newspaper, which was published in Vancouver from 1914 to 1992.

When combined with a wide range of other digitization efforts -- 15,000 historic images from the Vancouver Public Library, thousands of legal cases from the Canadian Legal Information Institute, 135,000 images from the McCord Museum of Canadian History in Montreal -- it becomes apparent that Canadians recognize the importance of digitally preserving and making available their culture and heritage even in the absence of a national strategy.  [Tyee]

Read more: Science + Tech

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free


The Barometer

Tyee Poll: Have You Relocated During the Pandemic?

Take this week's poll