National Film Board on the Missing Canadian Digitization Strategy

In its submission to the CRTC New Media consultation, the National Film Board of Canada warns:

Canada today finds itself years behind other countries in developing a clearly  focused and effective digitization strategy. The United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, and China have already established digitization strategies that feature robust programs and ambitious plans. An effective digitization strategy yields significant domestic benefits such as wider access to knowledge for the creative industry and all communities, a greater appreciation of national cultural heritage, and the facilitation of lifelong learning. A digitization plan could also lead to a cultural export strategy. 

While I don't think the CRTC is the right venue for this, the continued sluggish development of a strategy by Library and Archives Canada and the utter missing-in-action approach from the government (Canadian Heritage seems more committed to locking up content in C-61 than in making it available) merits far greater attention.


  1. Question
    Why isn’t the CRTC the correct venue?

  2. Question
    Why is it the government’s job to develop a digitization strategy in the first place? How about a non-profit organization be founded to come up with a strategy and implement it? I’m not sure how digitizing everything adds any value anyways.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Digitizing makes it much more easier to preserve. No quality loss over time, takes up less place.

  4. I guess I’m just old fashioned. I’d prefer to walk to the library and pick up a book to read by the fireplace, than sit in front of computer screen all day reading a digitized copy of the same book.

    Besides, would we not need to still preserve the original work anyways in case anything were to ever happen to the digitized copies? While there is no quality loss associated with a digital copy of a book (for example), with respect to reading the written words, I still feel like you lose some quality with respect to the medium used, the history of the work, and the personal experience. I’m not too sure how to really explain it.

    Anyways, that’s just my opinion. I still believe this sounds like a project better suited for a private sector organization that can put the necessary manpower behind it than the government which is ill-equipped and has higher priorities for funding.

  5. liz
    After having studied in New Zealand at a University, I was amazed at the difference in digitization strategies and general overall availability of information for research. I studied film and media, and I could go online, read books, read archived/ digitized articles and almost never have to leave my house, so long as I was a current student and could access their library. Then when I did want to watch something, I could go into their media library and watch whatever I wanted to – they had an agreement with the NZ TV stations where a prof, if they wanted to, could go and TAPE off of the TV and bring it in and have it in the library. For NZ, I think a lot like Canada, sometimes the only way a show gets distributed is through TV – so not to have that ability for researchers/ students to view that material cuts out a massive audience for developing that kind of cultural media cannon. It was so amazing to see the results of that kind of film/ media research mind, their articles/ topics were of the moment and very intellectually challenging. I never understood how you could do “new media research” from a book bought and shelved in a library that was 15 years old, but that’s just me.

    So, ya, in general Canada needs to get with it.

    I think generally having digitized information provides the potential for more people to access that information if they can’t go physically to that space to research, and in ‘this age of globalization’ having information available for research without having to pay to go to that locale is very valuable.

    For instance, I found when I was overseas comparing the film systems of New Zealand and British Columbia/ Western Canada there were many similarities; however getting access to information from overseas was almost near to difficult, even though it seems as though the look and some of the conventions of film have developed similarly. Part of my research paper was fed by my older papers and the references that I was able to get from those; without those, I would have had to physically go and retrieve that information.

    I don’t know, I just found the system in NZ to be very user-friendly and adult. Adult meaning that hopefully we are all adults and we can govern this bit for ourselves? But then, North American society isn’t based on a culture of “responsibility” it is based on a culture of “blame”. Probably that’s why when I went overseas they laughed at me when I asked, “Well what do you do if you want to sue someone?”. I pretty much got the answer that if I had slipped and fallen on something, that I was an idiot, and I should suck it up and move on.

    Anyhew, I think I’m moving off-topic. 🙂