Overview is a part of the Canadiana Research Knowledge Network (CRKN). It works together with the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and others to present Canada's documentary heritage content online. The organization provides access and preservation infrastructure for Canadian publications. In April 2018, merged with the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN).

    Type of Organization
    Alternative Names
    Prior Names
    Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions (CIHM)
    Canadian Initiative on Digital Libraries (CIDL)
    Parent Organization
    Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN)
    Year established
    Still in Operation
    Main Address

    411 - 11 Holland Avenue
    Ottawa ON K1Y 4S1

    Mission Statement was merged with the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN) in 2019. Prior to the merger Canadiana’s mission was " to support enduring access to Canada’s digital documentary heritage for Canadians and the world." This was the mission that was in place at the time of CRL's TRAC audit of’s current mission statement is that of The Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN). CRKN's mission is:

    CRKN is a partnership of Canadian universities, dedicated to expanding digital content for the academic research and teaching enterprise in Canada.

    Through the coordinated leadership of librarians, researchers, administrators and other stakeholders in the research community, CRKN undertakes large-scale content acquisition and licensing initiatives in order to build knowledge infrastructure and research and teaching capacity in Canada’s universities.

    CRKN's mission does not meet TRAC requirements because the statement does not include a commitment to preservation. Metric A1.1 of the Trustworthy Repositories Audit & Certification: Criteria and Checklist (TRAC)[i] requires repositories express a commitment to preservation in their mission statement.  This ensures the organization has prezervation as a primary focus. This is necessary for a Trusted Digitial Repository. >

    In 2019 CRKN stated to CRL that they need time to revise their mission statement and that a future version will include preservation. With this change to its mission CRKN will comply with an important TRAC requirement.

    [i] The Trustworthy Repositories Audit & Certification: Criteria and Checklist (TRAC), is the principle tool used by CRL in its auditing and certification of digital repositories. TRAC criteria measure the ability of a given repository to preserve digital content in a way that serves the repository's stakeholder community.

    History was formed through the merger of three important Canadian preservation efforts. These were; the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions (CIHM), the Canadian Initiative on Digital Libraries (former CIDL) and  AlouetteCanada. It was started in 1978 as an independent, non-profit corporation. The intention was to locate early printed Canadian materials (books, annuals, and periodicals) from sources around the world, and preserve their content on microfiche.

    These three efforts began at different times but had similiar content and preservation goals. CIHM was a non-profit organization, established in 1978 on behalf of the Canadian research community. Its mission was to preserve and disseminate early (1599-1920) printed Canadian monographs and serials on microfiche and later through digitization. CIHM was housed by the National Library of Canada in their Ottawa building. CIDL started in the mid-1990’s. It was a voluntary alliance of the National Library of Canada and over 50 Canadian  institutions including academic, public, and special libraries. CIDL’s mission was to promote, coordinate, and facilitate the development of Canadian digital collections and services. AlouetteCanada  was created by the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) in 2006. AlouetteCanada provided technical leadership, advocacy, and an aggregated search portal for Canadian content created by libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions. Funding was limited for all three organizations. CIHM was established as an independent organization with no stable, long term funding. It was supported sporadically by LAC, CRKN and other Canadian organizations.  CIDL and AlouetteCanada operated through the financial support of their partners – mainly members of Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL), including LAC. 

    An independent working group  decided to bring these preservation efforts together in one national digitization project. The working group was comprised of the Library and Archives Canada (LAC), the University of Waterloo, BanQ (Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec) and the Open Text Corporation of Waterloo. All three organizations brought Canadian content to that was distributed through separate database services.

    In 2015 CRL certified's digitized collections that are preserved in static digital files in common file formats. The certification does not apply to born-digital materials and other digital files archived in and produced by others.

    In 2018 merged with the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN). As conditions of the merger CRKN bought Canadiana’s intangible assets. was dissolved as a Non-Profit Organization (NPO) and Charity. A major chagne is that free access to most of’s content is available to anyone with access to the Internet. CRKN has removed the paywall to all of Canadiana’s Canadian documentary history collections. is staying in Ottawa and has relocated to CRKN’s headquarters.

    Financial Information

    Please note: Some of this information is based on information provided at the time of the audit in 2014.

    Since the merger's funding model has changed substantially. CRKN is combining into the organization, bearing all future costs, including hiring of seven existing staff and assuming the ongoing operations and service commitments of According to CRKN's 2017-2018 annual report this commitment nearly doubles CRKN’s operating budget.

    CRKN's funding model is mainly based on membership and publisher licencing fees. These revenue streams provide the resources necessary to sustain all CRKN activities. CRKN has a short term plan in place to help alleviate the increased costs of adding a digital repository.

    CRKN is establishing a fund known as the "Heritage Content Access and Preservation Fund" that will help with costs during the first three years. The fund will have two main sources, CRKN members with existing subscriptions to databases are asked to contribute their subscription fees to the fund and non-subscribing CRKN members will have a small percentage of their membership fees directed to the fund. During these three years CRKN will explore long-term revenue and funding opportunities. 

    Long-term financial support for by CRKN is in question. Prior to the merger was largely supported through subscriptions to its databases and many of these subscriptions were to CRKN members.  CRKN's decison to make many of the databases open access eliminated the main revenue source. However, because CRKN members were a majority of subscribers they may find it beneficial to fund free access to the collections.  For this reason they may continue to direct funds that will support the repository. Keeping costs at levels CRKN members can sustain will ensure's sustainability.  

    Governance: Board / Owners / Parent organization is subject to CRKN's governance and decision making. CRKN is governed by a Board of Directors. The CRKN board is comprised of ten volunteer members (eight elected, and two appointed). The Board are all members of CRKN. The CRKN bylaws specify the Board's composition, powers and operation. Members vote on decisions once a year at an annual meeting. 

    As a result of the merger CRKN has made a change in its membership requirements. Previous to acquiring, CRKN's membership was limited to institutions offering Doctoral, Masters and Baccalaureate degrees. This did not include member institutions, such as LAC or many of the Canadian Digital Information Strategy (CDIS) institutions.

     CRKN added a new category for non-academic members with a stake in Canadiana’s content. These new members are eligible for institutional (full) membership. This includes voting proveleges, to ensure they can participate in decision making for the merged insitions. New CRKN members are LAC, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BANQ) and the Toronto Public Library (TPL). This change means CRKN is no longer fully focused on academic institutions, but also serves the larger needs of Canadian libraries, government agencies and others.

    CRKN has created two new committees that will guide decision making in the areas of preservation and digitization for the organization. The Preservation and Access Committee assists with development of the Canadiana platform and activities related to the Trustworthy Digital Repository (TDR) certification. This committee is directed by an elected committee Chair who also serves on the CRKN Board. The second committee is a called the Digitization Prioritization sub-Committee. It identifies the priorities for digitization and drives the expansion of that service. This sub-committee will report to CRKN’s Content Strategy Committee through the Chair of the Committee.'s existing MOU’s have been reassigned from Canadiana to CRKN. These agreements are with four university partners and are either a succession and/or hosting agreement. There are succession and hosting agreements with the University of Alberta and University of Toronto, and hosting agreements with two additional universities Victoria University and Dalhousie University. Agreements include transition of the content, and requirements for housing the content. All costs are born by the institution, and so there is no additional costs for this service for Canadiana. 

    CRKN  continues to staff Canadiana with appropriate staffing roles. These include licensing, cataloging, digitization, scanning  and management. CRKN is outsourcing the management of the Canadiana web platform and graphic design. They are using establishment with an existing CRKN relationship and so are aware of the quality of the services there businesses can provide.

    Technical Information

    Please note: This information is based on information provided at the time of the audit in 2014.

    There are adequate backups of's content and systems. There are five backup instances, the first in Ottawa at CRKN and an additional four copies mirrored to the University of Toronto, University of Alberta, Victoria University and Dalhousie University. These four backups in provided hardware and software provided by In the event of an emergency ow

    nership of the content defaults to these institutions for their use.

    Canadiana's approach to preservation and delivery of its content is simple.  Canadiana's systems are hosted on non-proprietary software and hardware and are managed using standard UNIX tools and scripts. They rely on very few file formats . These file formats are widely used and well supported.  Nothing in the TDR is dependent on any specific technology. It relies on hardware and software technologies that are also widely supported and easy to upgrade and enhance as necessary or desirable.   Their choices have minimized their risks of losing.

    The Canadiana metadata index is rebuilt periodically, ensuring that the descriptive metadata remains reasonably up-to-date.  This approach to infrastructure gives Canadiana flexibility. It can easily adapt to technology changes and this reduces the risk of obsolescence. This decision helps ensure othey can deliver information that their users will understand. 

    Canadiana has an experienced staff that uses standard, reliable tools for monitoring system performance, security, and permissions. The most complex security task is probably managing the rules that match content-permissions with user-rights. This is currently manageable because current collection development policies prefer public domain content, and because the number of contributors and their contracts is small, and because the public interface to the TDR can manage access to many collections with complex rules.

    One concern CRL had at the time of the audit was with regard to the quality of the content being ingested into Canadiana. At the time of the audit Canadiana was the producer of 90% of the content it ingested. However the other 10%,  was from hosting and preserving the content for four clients. All of these hosting and preservation arrangements pre-date the TDR. Because of this Canadiana lacked policies and procedures for verifying non-Canadiana content. Without these policies and procedures Canadiana did not meet the requirements for TRAC B1.3 and B1.4. In response to this CRL decided not certify the content Canadiana received from other repositories. Canadiana has since devised some standards and procedures for its outside producers. These are publically available. 


    Canadiana's certified content is made available through a web portal. The portal offers an online page viewer with standard features, such as viewing documents, navigating through documents and resizing page images. The portal's search engine uses document metadata and OCR (where available) to respond to user queries. PDF copies of documents are downloaded by user.s As of January 1, 2019 all Canadiana content included in the Early Canadiana Online, Héritage, and Canadiana Online Collections are available at no charge to users. The open access content policy is due to the CRKN merger. CRKN decided it 

    MARC records are available for Canadiana Online collections. MARC records can be downloaded from a webpage and added to local library holdings. This helps bring the collection to library users who may not think to search Canadiana. Some of the MARC records were previously available on the website and are now available on the CRKN website. CRKN continues to add MARC records for new content

    The Canadiana Collection is divided into three sub-collections: Canadiana Online, Héritage, and Early Canadiana Online

    Canadiana Online

    Canadiana Online is the name for the entire Canadiana collection. There are several collections within this collection that  were previously differentiated by Canadiana. They were differentiated because the scans originated through different scanning programs or in other organizations. These include the Héritage Collection and Early Canadiana Online (ECO).

    Héritage Project

    The Héritage Collection is the largest part of Canadiana. It contains Canadian archival material. The collection was digitized through a partnership between LAC, Canadiana and Canadian university libraries. The partnership digitized LAC holdings previously reformatted to microfilm. The original microfilm was intended to be used for both access and preservation purposes. Subject matter includes colonial government documents, land grants, church records, papers and letters of prominent Canadians, immigration and ship lists, First Nations and military records. The microfilm reels are retained at LAC as an analog preservation backup for the digitized documents. Héritage was a test case for Canadiana's online portal. Learnings from the project helped inform organizational and funding efforts. The costs, estimated at 50 million dollars were borne by Canadiana and the Universities. Because so much of the collection is handwritten documents a combination of OCR and transcription is used to describe and search 

    Early Canadiana Online (ECO) (2001-2016) 

    The Early Canadiana Online (ECO) collection of rare books, magazines and government publications about Canada. ECO began in 1997 as a pilot project to create an online digital library. Canadian law requires that all content from this collection must be open access. The content falls into one or more of these catagories; about Canada, written by a Canadian, published in Canada, or in the public domain (not in copyright). Collections include Early Canadian Periodicals, Early official publications  Important subject areas include law, literature, religion, education, women’s history and aboriginal history. Content from CIHM's microfiche collection was scanned into digital images. An Early Canadiana advisory committee guided collection development, curation, and cataloging. The commitee was comprised of select scholars, librarians, and archivists. ECO is now a closed collection

    Other Collections 

    The Historical Debates of the Parliament of Canada is made available through a separate Canadiana portal at portal includes all debates, journals and committee documentation of the Senate and the House of Commons from the 1st Session of the 1st Parliament (1867) until coverage at begins.* Historical sessional papers are also available from 1867 to 1901.

    Canadiana has sold archiving services to several other organizations.  This content is not made available for access. It is not scanned by Canadiana, and is not part of CRL's certification program.

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