Browsing through issues of the Ha-Shilth-Sa and the Windspeaker—two newly digitized Indigenous newspapers dating back to 1974 and 1986 respectively—you can’t help being drawn in by the immediacy of the social and political news, editorials, and correspondence, side-by-side with accounts of local sports, community music and cultural events, birth announcements and obituaries, and endless photographs and advertisements that capture decades of style, commerce, and social change. It’s this combination of meaningful information and nostalgic discovery that makes newspapers such an abundant and vital source of historical information.
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is engaged on many fronts in supporting the acquisition, preservation, and access to Canada’s newspaper heritage, both locally and nationally. For example, the digitization of the Ha-Shilth-Sa and the Windspeaker is the result of a collaborative effort carried out in the context of the National Heritage Digitization Strategy, an initiative of Canada’s memory institutions to coordinate digitization activities across the country. This group, of which LAC is a member, received funding support from the Salamander Foundation to undertake a newspaper project as a response to feedback from clients and other cultural organizations, indicating that the digitization of LAC’s newspaper collection is a shared priority.
Spanning large daily newspapers and community, regional, multicultural, student, and Indigenous newspapers, LAC’s collection includes over 2,300 Canadian newspaper titles, approximately 200,000 reels of newspaper on microfilm, and 110 digital titles. It’s a vast collection that continues to grow as LAC responds proactively to the trends that influence the volume, variety, and format of newspaper production across the country. Part of that response includes developing acquisitions expertise relating to digital news content, as well as testing new acquisition models, which LAC is undertaking in collaboration with the Winnipeg Free Press, L’Acadie Nouvelle, and Northern News Services Online.
Meanwhile, LAC is supporting the ongoing efforts of Canadiana.org to digitize and provide online access to approximately 230 newspaper titles from microfilm held by LAC. Whether it’s the Saskatchewan Labor’s Realm, the Toronto Patriot, the Canadian Farmer-Labor Advocate, or the Western Clarion, the digital results of this project will be a source of valuable information and enduring fascination for all Canadians.
LAC also is developing an updated strategy to address our newspaper collection. Stay tuned!
Keep reading the LAC Blog for additional features about newspapers in LAC’s collection, including “Local newspapers at the heart of Canadian life” by acquisitions librarian Annie Wolfe, or visit the Newspaper Collection section of LAC’s website.