I’ve been keeping an eye out for details on this secret deal for several days now, since the Ottawa Citizen broke the story.

Apparently Library and Archives Canada has decided to contract out their digital conversion. And instead of consulting the archivists of Canada, they entered into secret negotiations with canadiana.org in exchange for an exclusive contract that would last ten years.

Unfortunately this deal may translate into user fees for Canadians who want to access anything considered other than “basic” on the database. And the Ottawa Citizen article mentions a $10 per month fee for this online access, making some wonder why Canadians need to pay to access their own material.

Having accessed these services for decades for free, I am concerned that these fees may shut out researchers like yours truly. Will I be able to access this database for free at the Archives in Ottawa ? Will individuals have access through their public library for free ? Will students be able to access the database via their university or college for free ?

Yes, it is quite expensive and time consuming to digitize material. But what will happen after that contract expires ? The public has clearly not been consulted and were not given answers as to what is involved here.
And this is why I signed the openmedia.org petition and may also consider contacting my local Member of Parliament over this issue.

Please consider doing this as well on this Canada Day weekend.