Sunday, August 11, 2013

What is the partnership between the LAC and Ancestry?

Yesterday, the president of the Ontario Genealogical Society, Shirley Sturdevant offered the opinion of the society on the release of the 1921 census.  This was done by releasing a statement on their blog, entitled Library and Archives Canada and Ancestry Partnership Results in Release of 1921 Canadian Population Census.

In part, the statement says -

“Although The Society is very pleased that these images are finally available to the public, we are concerned about its release through a subscription site. The lack of consultation with Canadian heritage organizations ignored their skills, experience and offers of assistance. Details of the arrangement are still unfolding and we hope that answers to our questions will be forthcoming regarding the arrangement between Library and Archives Canada and Ancestry.
  • Was there no Canadian organization that could handle this?
  • Is this deal exclusive to Ancestry?
  • Has LAC given away its rights to use the digitized images later on their own web page, indexed or not?
  • Might other organizations have access to the images and produce their own indexes as has been done successfully in the past, perhaps then making the information free to all?
  • For how long will there be free access to the raw images or indexed information on the site?
  • Is there a limit to the number of years Ancestry will have the sole rights before the census might appear elsewhere or is this material solely in their hands?
  • What of access to the other census schedules?
  • Why have the microfilms or images not been available at Library and Archives Canada until now?
There are many unanswered questions being asked by our members and others in the heritage community. We look forward to more details”.

To read the full statement, go to the web site at

So what is the nature of the partnership between the LAC and Ancestry? Does it give such societies, as the OGS, any room to have their say? Or are they looked upon as outsiders? Interesting questions, to say the least.

The waters on releasing the census issue is starting to get muddy. Let us hope that the OGS receives answers to their questions.

Disclaimer: Although I am employed by the OGS as editor of their journal Families, the views expressed in this statement are strictly by the OGS.   

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