CRKN: Enhancing and Expanding the Digital Scholarship Services of Canadiana

CRKN Staff 

Canadian Research Knowledge Network

October 31, 2019 

On April 3, 2018, the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN) and announced a merger of the two organizations, which are now under the leadership of CRKN. A combined organization enables our collective community to do more together than we could achieve apart. For more information about the merger, visit

Through the services of Canadiana, CRKN offers digitization, preservation, and access services to its members and to the heritage and digital preservation community.

CRKN and Canadiana Today

As a merged organization, CRKN is developing Canadiana services by:

  • Increasing access to the Canadiana Collections

  • Digitizing heritage content to enhance the Canadiana Collections, and to provide a service to CRKN members, and third-party clients

  • Maintaining the Canadiana Trustworthy Digital Repository (TDR) to preserve access for the future

  • Developing the Canadiana preservation and access platforms to meet common standards in support of member and community needs

  • Engaging with the stakeholder community to identify opportunities and potential partnerships

Canadiana Collections Overview

Canadiana Online (2018-present) Héritage (2013-present) Early Canadiana Online (ECO) (1999-2017)
  • 95,000 titles (19 million pages) of published materials-
  • Monographs (13 million pages)
  • Serials (3 million pages of periodicals, 1.1 million pages of newspapers, 200,000 pages of annuals)
  • Government publications (1.7 million pages)
  • Includes 5.8 million pages from Early Canadiana Online (ECO)
  • Partnership between CRKN members and LAC
  • 900 collections (41 million pages)
  • Archival material, including large collections from Federal - Government departments such as agriculture, defense, Indigenous affairs, and immigration
  • Majority (approximately 60%) is handwritten
  • 5.8 million pages
  • Monographs, serials and government publications
  • Arranged in thematic sub-collections
  • No new items being added. All ECO material is available in Canadiana Online

Significance of the Canadiana Collections

The Canadiana collections include valuable national documentary heritage that is used for research, teaching, personal history, and more. This content provides generations, now and in the future, with a crucial understanding of our shared history.

  • Canadiana collections are the largest online collection of early textual Canadiana in the world.

  • This material is actively used in research, including genealogical research, local history, historical research such as legislation, war, medical, and agricultural history of Canada.

  • The Canadiana Online collection includes items published before the 1920s and material is being added on a regular basis.

  • The Héritage collection includes archival material with over 5,000 pages of new content are being added each month. To facilitate full-text search, CRKN has utilized optical content recognition (OCR) software to enhance the metadata of over 800 microfilms (representing 1.4 million pages). Approximately 60% of the Héritage collection is handwritten and will need to be transcribed by hand. The Héritage collection includes content from government departments and personal collections, notably papers from Prime Ministers.


Reporting to the CRKN Board of Directors, the Preservation and Access Committee (PAC) (https://www.crkn- will assist the Board in its activities by reviewing and making recommendations regarding the development and management of the Canadiana and Trustworthy Digital Repository (TDR) platform and the associated services and capabilities. The PAC has two task groups:

  • Heritage Content Priorities Task Group (HCPTG): to develop principles and criteria that CRKN may use to evaluate and prioritize heritage content for digitization and ingestion, conversion and augmentation of the Canadiana collections

  • Platform Technical Task Group (PTTG): to evaluate and make recommendations on the development of the Canadiana access and preservation platforms (including the TDR).

With the guidance of the Preservation and Access Committee, CRKN is:

  • Compiling future goals and opportunities related to access and preservation, as defined by end users and community

  • Enhancing our platform with updated features and access options

  • Expanding our digitization strategy and contributing to the National Heritage Digitization Strategy

  • Partnering with key stakeholders

  • Providing exceptional digitization services to members, government departments, cultural heritage organizations, and other GLAM organizations.

Developing Sustainability

To support the development of the Canadiana collections, the transition of Canadiana content to open access, and the ongoing development of the Canadiana TDR, the members of CRKN have committed to a re-direction of former Canadiana subscription fees and membership fees towards a Heritage Content Access and Preservation (HCAP) fund for three years. During these next three years, CRKN will develop and evolve the long-term sustainability strategy.