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Collaborative Arrangements

Library and Archives Canada Agreement with Ancestry.ca

Overview

As a way of increasing public access to some of its most frequently used collections, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has entered into a collaborative arrangement with Ancestry.ca to make accessible selected records including census, military and immigration records held by LAC for the benefit of Canadians and others throughout the world. The records selected for this collaborative arrangement will eventually be made available on both Ancestry.ca and the LAC website. The records on the LAC website will be accessible at no charge and will be posted online over the coming years in a phased approach, and as resources permit. LAC could not possibly make these images and indices available in these proposed time frames and in such a cost-effective manner to the Canadian public without the assistance of a partner. Canadians will have access to these indexed records at any time of day from anywhere in Canada or the world.

Ancestry.ca is part of a global network of genealogical websites. The parent company, Ancestry.com, based in Provo, Utah, specializes in the production of genealogical information for its subscribers. It is an expert in watermarking, digitization and indexation of records which contain genealogical information. Ancestry.com is also skilled at displaying this information online through its various websites, including Ancestry.ca, Rootsweb.com, Genealogy.com. Ancestry.com's previous experience of working with archival documents includes projects with the National Archives and Records Administration of the United States and the National Archives of England and Wales. Ancestry.com has outstanding expertise and experience in the handling of original fragile records for the purposes of digitization, and has demonstrated a commitment to providing extremely high quality digital images.

Benefits

  • The collaboration between LAC and Ancestry.ca will enable LAC to offer its visitors free online access to many of its collections, many of which have not been easily accessible in the past. This will enhance access to Canadian documentary heritage for the benefit of Canadians and others throughout the world.
  • Through this collaborative arrangement, these projects will be achieved in a cost-effective manner for Canadian taxpayers.
  • LAC visitors have free access to Ancestry.ca from computer terminals at its public facilities at 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa.
  • LAC will allocate resources to ensure that records digitized by Ancestry.com are made available on the LAC website in a timely fashion, recognizing that there are competing priorities.
  • The LAC–Ancestry.ca collaboration is in the public interest and follows the Government of Canada direction on public–private partnerships.

Current projects

The following projects are currently underway and will be posted online, on the LAC website, as time and resources permit.

Ancestry.ca Projects Digital images To be created Digital Images available on Collections-canada.gc.ca Nominal index To be created Nominal index available on Collections-canada.gc.ca Available on Ancestry.ca
Canadian Passenger Lists Yes To be determined Yes To be determined Online
(http://landing.ancestry.ca/
intl/canada/passenger
/lists.aspx?o_iid=36816
&o_lid=36816
)
1851 Census Already exist Online
(www.collections-canada.gc.ca/
archivianet/1851
/index-e.html
)
Yes Estimated summer 2011 Online
(http://content.ancestry.ca/
iexec/?htx=
List&dbid=1061
)
1861 Census Yes To be determined Yes To be determined Online
(http://search.ancestry.ca/
iexec/Default.aspx?htx=
List&dbid=1570
)
1871 Census Yes To be determined Yes To be determined Online
(http://search.ancestry.ca/
iexec/Default.aspx?htx=
List&dbid=1578
)
1881 Census * Already exist Online
(www.bac-lac.gc.ca/
eng/census/1881/
Pages/about-census.aspx
)
Already exist Online NA
1891 Census Yes Online
(www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/census/1891/Pages/about-census.aspx)
Yes Online Online
(http://content.ancestry.ca/
iexec/?htx=
List&dbid=1274
)
1901 Census Already exist Already Online
(www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/census/1901/Pages/about-census.aspx)
Yes Estimated summer 2011 Online
(http://content.ancestry.ca/
iexec/?htx=
List&dbid=8826
)
1906 Census Already exist Already Online
(www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/
census/1906/Pages/
about-census.aspx
)
Yes Estimated summer 2011 Online
(http://content.ancestry.ca/
iexec/?htx=
List&dbid=8827
)
1911 Census Already exist Already Online
(www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/census/1911/Pages/about-census.aspx)
Yes Estimated summer 2011 Online
(http://content.ancestry.ca/
iexec/?htx=
List&dbid=8947
)
1916 Census Yes To be determined Yes Estimated summer 2011 Online
(http://search.ancestry.ca/
iexec/?htx=
List&dbid=1556
)

* Family Search provided the index available on the LAC website. LAC provided the digital images of the 1881 Census to Ancestry.ca.

Questions and Answers

Has the agreement between LAC and Ancestry.com been signed?

Yes. The Notice of Intent posted on MERX and on the LAC website provided interested parties with an opportunity to be informed and to comment on the proposed arrangement. LAC received questions and positive comments on the proposal. Even though the period to comment is now over, LAC welcomes any comments from Canadians regarding this project. The agreement was signed on March 31, 2008, and we are now working upon implementation. Comments and questions can be submitted to Web Services (webservices@bac-lac.gc.ca).

What were the principles that guided the negotiation of this agreement?

The principles that guided the negotiation of this agreement are compliant with the Library and Archives Canada policy of non-exclusivity, non-perpetuity, transparency, and clear and fair value to the taxpayer.

  • Non-exclusive: LAC will delay a second digitization of the records in question for commercial purposes for five years only from the date of the digital posting by Ancestry.ca. During that time, LAC will have the right to publish all the records and selected indices for free on its website.
  • Not perpetual: The terms and conditions of the three legal mechanisms (the Umbrella Agreement, the License and the Statement of Work) will have set time frames for LAC and Ancestry.ca.
  • Transparent: LAC has issued a public notice advising of its intention to enter into this agreement and received a number of comments in response to that notice.
  • Fair and clear value: The value of the indices alone is high. Combined with a timely digitization of millions of images at no cost to the Canadian taxpayer, the value of this proposition is significant.

Will Library and Archives Canada be sending original records out of Canada?

No. Any original records will be digitized by Ancestry.ca in Canada under appropriate archival conditions determined by LAC.

What are your concerns about possible off-shore digitization and does the proposal comply with Government of Canada laws, policies and regulations, including privacy, human rights, and free trade?

The agreement requires compliance with Canadian law. Privacy will be fully protected: only publicly available records will be digitized. There are clauses in the agreement to address human rights concerns regarding possible off-shore digitization.

What are nominal indices and why is Ancestry.ca willing to give LAC a licence to use the valuable indices for the 19th-century censuses?

Nominal indices organize information by name and they are highly prized by researchers as searching by name is most intuitive, yet most genealogical records are not organized by names. By giving LAC such a license, Ancestry.ca wants to demonstrate its desire for a significant partnership with LAC, while offering a unique and valuable service to the genealogical community.

Why is LAC dealing with the private sector on large areas of content?

Ancestry.com is a company that has a great deal of experience in the production of genealogical information. It is an expert in watermarking, digitization and indexing records related to genealogical information and skilled at displaying this information online through its various websites. They have a substantial infrastructure to support these efforts.

It is not unusual to see public–private collaborations for digitization projects and initiatives. The LAC–Ancestry.com collaboration is demonstrably in the public interest and follows the Government of Canada direction on public–private sector partnerships.

Why is LAC seeking this collaboration with an American company?

Ancestry.com is a company based in the United States that has several international agreements with important archives around the world, such as the London Metropolitan Archives, Shanghai Library, and The National Archives of the United Kingdom.

LAC, through the Genealogy and Family History, must show innovative leadership in the areas of collaboration, consultation, and the development of national and international agreements. Its goal to produce and disseminate quality genealogical information requires the collaboration of a large number of people, to develop and organize the information sought by visitors and to work together to standardize and develop services.

LAC has considerable experience collaborating with international partners, notably the Direction des archives de France, the National Archives of Ireland, and the National Archives and Records Administration to name a few. In light of the global digital world, open access and the nature of the Internet, international partnerships are a natural evolution.

What about outsourcing nominal indices to China? Are human rights taken into consideration?

LAC has done due diligence and appropriate safeguard clauses are included in the agreement.

Is all of the proposed content set ready for digitization? What is LAC's capacity to shift resources to do the work?

The content set in question is a high priority for LAC to digitize, with or without Ancestry.com. Much of the content to be digitized by Ancestry.com was suggested by LAC.

Some records may require preparation. The multi-year arrangements that will be included in the Statement of Work mechanism will enable LAC to stagger the work by beginning with microfilm that is ready for digitization and to proceed by batches.

A Library and Archives Canada project manager will oversee a team to ensure a cohesive approach.

Why did LAC choose to inform the public via a Notice of Intent?

Transparency is a priority for LAC, and the Notice of Intent aimed to provide interested parties with an opportunity to be informed about the proposed arrangement.

Why genealogy?

LAC is committed to making as much of its collection as possible available online. LAC has determined that genealogical records are a priority and genealogy is a much-used and appreciated activity by LAC visitors and researchers. Genealogy can also lead visitors to explore and learn more about the entire LAC collection.

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