Introducing the CRKN Canadiana & Héritage Digital Collections

Who is CRKN?

The Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN) is a partnership of 79 Canadian universities and institutions dedicated to expanding digital content for the academic research and teaching enterprise in Canada.

CRKN was formed in 1999 to increase the quantity, breadth, and depth of digital scholarly content available to university libraries. While content licensing is still the chief aspect of our work, in April 2018 CRKN merged with Canadiana.org, resulting in a combined organization under the governance of CRKN. Through this merger, we now manage the Canadiana collections, valued by researchers and scholars for years as a trusted source of digitized Canadian historical documents.

Combining the 40-year history and expertise of Canadiana.org with the resources and leadership of CRKN has resulted in new opportunities to expand this incredible resource. Through this merger, we have been able to remove the former subscription paywall on the Canadiana collections, invest in better infrastructure to support the preservation and access of millions of pages of digital heritage, and target new opportunities to enhance Canadiana’s scope and profile within the research community. Learn more about CRKN at our website.

What are the Canadiana collections?

Canadiana.ca is the online home of the Canadiana collections, two major collections of digitized textual documents relating to Canada and its history. These collections include materials from the 16th century to the first half of the 20th century.

  • Canadiana Online includes 19 million pages of monographs, serials, government publications, and more covering everything from literary works and historic speeches to newspapers, magazines, and cookbooks. Canadiana Online contains published materials from libraries and other institutions across Canada.
  • Héritage is a collection of digitized microfilmed documents from the archival holdings of Library and Archives Canada. Héritage allows you to explore 41 million pages of genealogical, government, and military records, as well as private papers from notable individuals and organizations.

A former collection, Early Canadiana Online (ECO), was a subset of Canadiana Online and was decommissioned in August 2019. But don’t worry! Everything in ECO is included in Canadiana Online, and all ECO URLs redirect to the same content. In fact, Canadiana Online includes over 13 million additional pages of content, and we made this change so that users can find more of what they need when they search on Canadiana.ca.

 

Check out some examples of what you can find:

Manitoba and the North-West Territories … Information as to the Resources and Climates of these Countries for Intending Farmers, Ranchers and Miners. Ottawa: Government Printing Bureau, 1898. http://online.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.15589

Fonds de la Seigneurie de Sorel, http://heritage.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.lac_mikan_97830

 

A primer for the use of the Mohawk children…. Ancaster, U.C. [Ont.]: G. Gurnett, 1828. http://online.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.88796

 

A.B.C. of Mixing Cocktails. Montreal: Hiram Walker & Sons, Gooderham & Worts, ca. 1930.
http://online.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.9_08953

CRKN also manages the Canadian National Digital Heritage Index (CNDHI), a searchable index of over 1,500 Canadian digital heritage collections hosted at libraries, museums, and archives across Canada.

How can I use the Canadiana collections?

To find content, users can keyword-search our portals and refine their results with a list of filters, including date range, collection type, and language. Or, you can simply browse the collections without searching. You’ll still be able to narrow down your results with the filters listed above. All content in Canadiana Online has been processed with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) scanning, so it is full-text searchable.

Each item or collection we index has an “About” tab with bibliographic details and information on the document source. For collections in Héritage, we also include information on how to access a finding aid, if available.

Ensuring the widespread access and use of this material is essential. As of January 1, 2019, everything in the Canadiana collections can be accessed at no charge to users. Thanks to the contribution of CRKN’s member institutions, who have generously contributed funds to keep the Canadiana collections running without the former subscription model, anyone with an internet connection can now browse, search, and download Canadiana content at any time.

Are there any next steps?

Yes! Content is continually being added to Canadiana Online and Héritage, with much more to come. This is a great time to discover Canadiana, since CRKN is in the process of updating the services and platform to make them more user-friendly, comprehensive, and technologically robust. An equal priority is placed on identifying records that include Indigenous content to remove offensive language or culturally sensitive materials.

As part of this task, we are seeking researcher input. How are you using the Canadiana collections, and what features would you like to see? CRKN is interested to know how we can make the work of researchers and scholars easier, and how the Canadiana collections can be optimized to have the greatest impact. We welcome all questions, suggestions, or feedback at info@crkn.ca.

CRKN is also a digitization service provider, and we are currently accepting new projects. CRKN has an experienced, in-house digitization team which works with flatbed scanners, V-scanners, and microfilm scanners and offers a variety of output formats. For more information on CRKN’s digitization services, please contact Francesca Brzezicki, Communications Coordinator, at fbrzezicki@crkn.ca.

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