The Canadian Community Digital Archives is a new online movement that aims to consolidate libraries and communities across Canada to provide easy access to a huge range of old newspapers, documents, and photographs, many of which date back decades.
- Digital documentation database
- Online library system
- Generation of PDFs from pictures
- Searchable PDFs
- Mini-library of clipped sections
- Framed print request system
The Archives needed a complete system of searchable digital documents and newspapers. They needed a system that would scan old documents, digitize them, and make them searchable. Users also had to be able to save sections of interest and create their own mini-library of information. The system would have to include social networking, custom profiles, and a database that spanned all of Canada.
- Digitization of vast library of documents and newspapers
- Comprehensive online library system
- Conversion of scanned images to PDF format
- Making all PDFs searchable for faster access
- Personal folders to save clipped documents
- Framed print order system
The system implemented for the Canadian Community Digital Archives is one of the most unique ever. A database of digital documents has been implemented. This database is a collective, meaning anyone can upload documents to the database. It can also be accessed by anyone anywhere online. A vast library of documents from the 1700s onwards is stored on the database, which is one of the most extensive ever created. The database is organized and sorted.
All the documents stored in the database are organized using multiple filters. The database is structured like an online library of books, newspapers, documents, and other forms of media. It can be searched through using custom filters. Visitors can create accounts in order to check out documents, browse them at will, and do much more. The documents in the library are uploaded by libraries and archives across Canada.
The system used to populate the database with documents is one of the most advanced out there. Libraries and contributors scan their old documents and newspapers, or take pictures of them. These pictures are uploaded to the system. Through a complex OCR (optical character recognition) process, the scanned and uploaded pictures are converted to PDF files that are accurate in terms of format and structure. They are clearly presented and sorted in the main database.
The PDFs that are generated by the system are added to the database. After this, another complex OCR process is used to automatically make any text in the PDFs searchable. This means a visitor can open a newspaper (for example) and search for a phrase within that newspaper. This system of converting uploading images into sorted, searchable PDF files is highly advanced and has not been successfully replicated elsewhere because of its complexity.
One great feature of the system designed by Vestra is that the Archives have their own social sharing system. Visitors can create and log into dedicated accounts. Within these accounts, they are presented with multiple options. When browsing through some of the documents, they can save clips of interesting sections to print or read later. These clipped sections can be organized into a personal library on the account, using custom folders. Clipped sections can be shared with other users on the system by making them public, and visitors can view sections clipped by other people. Clips can also be shared to social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter, among others.
Visitors can print out sections or entire documents when they need to browse them in greater detail. Printing directly is free, but there is also an option to request a framed printout from the Archives. This costs a small fee, and there is a built-in ordering system in place to allow visitors to place their orders through their customer account.