The Canadian Library of Parliament’s Contribution to Access to Parliamentary Debates

BEBBINGTON, Sonia (2014) The Canadian Library of Parliament’s Contribution to Access to Parliamentary Debates. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2014 - Lyon - Libraries, Citizens, Societies: Confluence for Knowledge in Session 201 - Government Information and Official Publications with Government Libraries. In: IFLA WLIC 2014, 16-22 August 2014, Lyon, France.

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Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.


The Canadian Library of Parliament’s Contribution to Access to Parliamentary Debates

The Canadian Library of Parliament has a privileged position, existing to serve our Parliament throughout its history, indeed predating Confederation (1867). This paper will deal with 1867 and forward, addressing specifically the question: How has the Canadian Library of Parliament contributed to providing broader public access to Hansard, or the Debates of the Parliament of Canada? The Library has recently completed two projects which significantly increase access to the debates of the Parliament of Canada, also called Hansard. These projects are: - the Early Debates Project (also called the Reconstituted and Translated Debates), in which we have reconstructed, based on newspaper accounts of the period, debate content for the early years of the Canadian Parliament prior to the introduction of the official record, and; - the Historical Debates of the Parliament of Canada: a mass digitization project, in which we have built a single, full-text searchable portal of digitized debates of the Parliament of Canada (i.e., both chambers), from 1867 until the mid-1990s (when each chamber began publishing directly online), available free to the public at point of use, and in both official languages, English and French. The paper/presentation will describe each project, its processes, its challenges, and its results. Both projects serve to increase access to Parliament’s documentary heritage and political history, though differing broadly in their processes and deliverables. These differences, however, provide an opportunity to touch on a range of elements related to preservation, cultural heritage, digital access, etc., including the original newspaper clipping scrapbooks (used for the reconstruction project) and their preservation, the interplay of other parliamentary documents in creating and validating the reconstituted debates, the challenges of mass digitization, and indeed a visit into some of the rich historical content of the periods in question. Session participants will gain an awareness of the Library of Parliament’s contribution to access to Canada’s parliamentary debates, an awareness of our new digital portal, knowledge of a large-scale parliamentary history reconstruction project, and shared experiences in mass digitization projects.

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