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Canada

Enhance Access to Culture & Heritage Collections (CA0049)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Canada Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Canadian Heritage

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, E-Government

IRM Review

IRM Report: Canada End-Term Report 2016-2018, Canada Mid-Term Report 2016- 2018

Starred: No

Early Results: NR

Design i

Verifiable: No

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: NR

Description

Enhance Access to Culture & Heritage Collections Why do this: An increasing proportion of Canadian Culture and Heritage artefacts is available in a digitized format. This opens new opportunities to expand the scope and reach of Canadian museums and the social and economic benefits they deliver to Canadians. Using Linked Open Data approaches, this initiative will link the collections across Canadian museums forming a National Inventory of Cultural and Heritage Artefacts. How will it be done: In 2015-16, the Canadian Heritage Information Network Program (CHIN) partnered with eight art museums across Canada to develop an approach to link the collections of each museum with each other, and to related external resources, based on industry best practices (e.g., Linked Open Data). This work demonstrates the feasibility of using Open Data approaches to link collections across museums and other memory organizations. Building on these results, CHIN will develop and implement a multi-year business strategy to work with the Culture and Heritage community to grow the network of linked collections through the Canadian Culture and Heritage Linked Open Data Cloud.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

8. Enhance Access to Culture & Heritage Collections

Commitment Text:

The Government of Canada will expand collaboration with its provincial, territorial, and municipal partners and key stakeholders to develop a searchable National Inventory of Cultural and Heritage Artefacts to improve access across museum collections.

Milestones:

8.1. Develop authorities and standards to guide the consistent implementation of this approach.

8.2. Enhance the ability to search and browse across museum collections.

8.3. Expand the network of museums participating in this initiative and the links to related external resources.

8.4. Host digital collections for museums that currently do not have a digital presence.

Responsible institution: Canadian Heritage

Supporting Institutions(s): N/A

Start date: Not specified

End date: Not specified

Editorial Note: The text of the commitment was abridged for formatting reasons. For full commitment text, visit: http://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/Canada_AP3.pdf.

Context and Objectives

This commitment aims to mitigate geographic limitations on Canadians’ ability to access cultural and heritage artifacts by creating and expanding digital collections. The commitment also seeks to network these collections together to develop a searchable national database of cultural works. The milestones are spelled out with relatively low specificity, failing to mention details such as the target number of museums and works which will ultimately be included in this scheme. This, combined with the fact that the commitment only deals with a very limited subsection of information (culture and heritage collections), places a low ceiling on potential impact.

Completion

The Department of Canadian Heritage has developed a pilot website including 166,762 objects, with a variety of reference points and taxonomic classifications to improve searchability.[Note68: The website is at: http://chin-rcip.canadiana.ca/aclod2/search/artefact.] The work is being carried out in collaboration with eight partner museums: the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the McCord Museum, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, the Musée des beaux arts de Montréal, the National Gallery of Canada, and the Vancouver Art Gallery. However, in response to queries by the IRM researcher, the Department of Canadian Heritage said that it expected the network to be expanded to 100 museums by the end of the 2017 fiscal year, though the standard of presentation had been scaled back.[Note69: Responses received via email on 13 October 2017.] While the original plan had been to publish information as Linked Open Data (LOD), resource challenges have led them to adopt a more conventional database format instead.

The government’s self-assessment reports this commitment as behind schedule. However, the vague nature of the milestones, and a lack of clarity in the action plan of what an intended finished product should look like, make it difficult to judge whether it is reasonable to expect the commitment will be completed by June 2018.

Next Steps

While there is value in expanding Canadians’ access to shared cultural heritage, particularly given the vast size of the country, some First Nations stakeholders expressed concern as to whether proper contextualisation is being considered adequately in developing the system.[Note70: Ottawa consultation, 18 September 2017.] Josée Plamondon, a digital librarian, similarly warned that without proper organisation and context, repositories can end up as 'a cemetery for data.'[Note71: Montreal consultation, 20 September 2017.] On the other hand, Camille Callison, an Indigenous Services Librarian at the University of Manitoba, stated cultural preservation was also an important goal underlying this initiative, which speaks to the value of carrying the database forward.[Note72: Interviewed at the Sectoral Commission meeting at the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, 2 October 2017.] In discussing contextualisation and ease of use, Josée Plamondon pointed out that organisation and robust tagging are important facets in determining the value of this initiative, which hinged on whether the database adopts a user centric-approach to data presentation.[Note73: Montreal consultation, 20 September 2017.] The IRM researcher recommends that the government consider these ideas going forward, to the extent they have not already been embedded in the development of this database.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

8. Enhance Access to Culture & Heritage Collections

Commitment Text: The Government of Canada will expand collaboration with its provincial, territorial, and municipal partners and key stakeholders to develop a searchable National Inventory of Cultural and Heritage Artefacts to improve access across museum collections.

Milestones:

8.1. Develop authorities and standards to guide the consistent implementation of this approach.

8.2. Enhance the ability to search and browse across museum collections.

8.3. Expand the network of museums participating in this initiative and the links to related external resources.

8.4. Host digital collections for museums that currently do not have a digital presence.

Responsible institution: Canadian Heritage

Supporting institutions: N/A

Start Date: Not specified

End Date: Not specified

Editorial Note: The text of the commitment was abridged for formatting reasons. For full commitment text, visit http://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/Canada_AP3.pdf.

Commitment Aim

This commitment aimed to mitigate geographic limitations affecting Canadians' ability to access cultural and heritage artefacts by creating and expanding digital collections. The commitment also sought to network these collections together to develop a searchable national database of cultural works. It would do this by:

Developing authorities and standards related to the preservation and presentation of cultural works;

Enhancing the ability to search and browse across museum collections;

Expanding the network of museums participating in this initiative and the links to related external resources; and

Hosting digital collections for museums that currently do not have a digital presence.

Status

Midterm: Limited

Over the course of the first year of implementation, the Department of Canadian Heritage developed a pilot website. This website included 166,762 objects, with a variety of reference points and classifications to improve searchability (Milestones 8.2 and 8.4).[Note58: The website is at http://chin-rcip.canadiana.ca/aclod2/search/artefact.] The work was carried out in collaboration with eight partner museums: the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the McCord Museum, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the National Gallery of Canada, and the Vancouver Art Gallery.[Note59: Responses received via email on 13 October 2017.] The government also commenced work on improving cataloguing tools. As a result of this endeavour, the government plans to eventually make material available through a Linked Open Data format. However, during the midterm assessment, it reported resource challenges connected with this effort (Milestone 8.1).

End of term: Substantial

The government's self-assessment reports that, over the second year of implementation, the Department of Canadian Heritage built further on its standard setting work. It developed the website Nomenclature for Museum Cataloging. The government launched the website in November 2018, after the end of the implementation period for this action plan.[Note60: See: https://app.pch.gc.ca/sgc-cms/nouvelles-news/anglais-english/?p=10450.] It plans to make available the Linked Open Data (LOD) format in 2020 (Milestone 8.1).[Note61: For more information about this project, see “Nomenclature: A New Online Resource for Museum Catalogers,” Government of Canada, https://app.pch.gc.ca/sgc-cms/nouvelles-news/anglais-english/?p=10425.] This work has included developing new standardised values for Canadian material. The government self-assessment scores Milestone 8.1 as having been completed. However, since the main deliverable has not actually been launched yet, the IRM researcher considers the commitment as having made substantial progress toward achieving its objective. Under Milestone 8.2, the self-assessment notes a Department of Canadian Heritage demonstration project called 150 Years of Canadian Art.[Note62: See “150 Years of Canadian Art: A Linked Open Data Project,” Artefacts Canada, http://chin-rcip.canadiana.ca/aclod/.] It also highlights the development of a prototype for enhanced search functions and continued work toward Linked Open Data models. The self-assessment scores Milestone 8.2 as having been completed. The IRM researcher agrees that milestone has been assessed accurately, though the implementation of these improvements is ongoing.[Note63: The self-assessment is available at https://open.canada.ca/data/en/dataset/9da9faf5-deb1-48db-8f16-91055d942d65.]

In terms of the formal collaborations under this commitment (Milestone 8.3), the number of museums which are formally collaborating in the initiative remains the same as it was at the midterm assessment (eight). However, according to follow-up discussions with the Department of Canadian Heritage, the government has expanded the number of informal collaborators. It has created an advisory committee on the modernisation of Artefacts Canada. That work will be based on an LOD approach. Advisory committee participants include eight museums (Lougheed House Conservation Society, Saskatchewan Western Development Museum, Canadian Museum of History, Musée de la Civilisation, New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame, Canada Science and Technology Museum, Yale Centre for British Art, and the McCord Museum). This milestone has been completed. Under Milestone 8.4, the self-assessment reports that the government launched a redeveloped version of its Artefacts Canada database in March 2018. The new version featured an advanced search function, incorporated in July 2018.[Note64: See “Advanced Search,” Government of Canada, https://app.pch.gc.ca/application/artefacts_hum/re_as.app?lang=en.] However, regard Milestone 8.4, the self-assessment notes that the government needs to conduct additional foundational work to develop tools for harvesting or collecting museum data. Therefore, the IRM researcher considers this milestone to have achieved limited progress, in line with what is reported in the government's self-assessment report.

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Marginal

Canada's geographical size limits access to cultural heritage and artefacts for many citizens. Digitization provides an opportunity to enhance access to Canada's cultural heritage. It does so particularly for Canadians who lack the economic resources to travel to urban centres where such artefacts may be housed. However, the expansion of material online brings additional organisation and accessibility challenges. The standardisation and nomenclature work (Milestone 8.1) constitutes a key building block to facilitating future connections across museums through the Canadian Heritage Information Network. Milestone 8.1 is foundational in particular to consolidating collections into a more accessible format. The 150 Years of Canadian Art demonstration project gives users the ability to view artwork across certain participating collections. However, the tool remains limited in terms of its searchability. According to the Department of Canadian Heritage, the tool's status as a pilot with a limited dataset limits its functionality. The department noted that the incorporation of a Linked Open Data model will substantially boost functionality in the longer term. Nonetheless, at this point, the commitment is assessed as providing a marginal expansion in access to information, though it has the potential to have a more significant impact down the road.

Carried Forward?

This commitment area has not been carried forward to the next action plan. However, a conversation with the Department of Canadian Heritage suggests that the department expects the project to be carried forward nonetheless. First Nation stakeholders interviewed as part of the development of the midterm assessment stressed the value of digitization to cultural preservation goals. These stakeholders also noted that robust tagging and organisation are critical to enhancing accessibility. The IRM researcher recommends that initiatives to expand the digitization of cultural works and enhance their accessibility and consolidated availability across collections be carried forward to completion.


Canada's Commitments

  1. User-friendly open government

    CA0064, 2018, Capacity Building

  2. Financial transparency and accountability

    CA0065, 2018, E-Government

  3. Corporate transparency

    CA0066, 2018, Beneficial Ownership

  4. Digital government and services

    CA0067, 2018, Capacity Building

  5. Open science

    CA0068, 2018, Capacity Building

  6. Healthy democracy

    CA0069, 2018, E-Government

  7. Access to Information

    CA0070, 2018, Capacity Building

  8. Feminist and inclusive dialogue

    CA0071, 2018, Capacity Building

  9. Reconciliation and open government

    CA0072, 2018, Capacity Building

  10. Open government community

    CA0073, 2018, Capacity Building

  11. Enhance Access to Information

    CA0042, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  12. Streamline Requests for Personal Information

    CA0043, 2016, E-Government

  13. Expand and Improve Open Data

    CA0044, 2016, E-Government

  14. Provide and Preserve Open Information

    CA0045, 2016, E-Government

  15. Define an Approach for Measuring Open Government Performance

    CA0046, 2016, Capacity Building

  16. Develop Open Government Skills across the Federal Public Service

    CA0047, 2016, Capacity Building

  17. Embed Transparency Requirements in the Federal Service Strategy

    CA0048, 2016, Capacity Building

  18. Enhance Access to Culture & Heritage Collections

    CA0049, 2016, Capacity Building

  19. Enhance Openness of Information on Government Spending and Procurement

    CA0050, 2016, Capacity Building

  20. Increase Transparency of Budget and Other Department of Finance Information

    CA0051, 2016, Capacity Building

  21. Starred commitment Increase Transparency of Grants and Contributions Funding

    CA0052, 2016, Capacity Building

  22. Improve Public Information on Canadian Corporations

    CA0053, 2016, E-Government

  23. Increase the Availability and Usability of Geospatial Data

    CA0054, 2016, Capacity Building

  24. Increase Openness of Federal Science Activities (Open Science)

    CA0055, 2016, Capacity Building

  25. Stimulate Innovation through Canada’s Open Data Exchange (ODX)

    CA0056, 2016, E-Government

  26. Align Open Data across Canada (Open Data Canada)

    CA0057, 2016, Capacity Building

  27. Implement the Extractives Sector Transparency Measures Act

    CA0058, 2016, Capacity Building

  28. Support Openness and Transparency Initiatives around the World

    CA0059, 2016, Aid

  29. Engage Civil Society on Open Government

    CA0060, 2016, Public Participation

  30. Enable Open Dialogue and Open Policy Making

    CA0061, 2016, Capacity Building

  31. Promote Open Government Globally

    CA0062, 2016, Capacity Building

  32. Engage Canadians to Improve Key Canada Revenue Agency Services

    CA0063, 2016, Fiscal Transparency

  33. Implement Directive on Open Government

    CA0030, 2014, Open Data

  34. Starred commitment Open Data Canada

    CA0031, 2014, Open Data

  35. Canadian Open Data Exchange (ODX)

    CA0032, 2014, Capacity Building

  36. Open Data for Development

    CA0033, 2014, Capacity Building

  37. Open Data Core Commitment

    CA0034, 2014, Open Data

  38. Starred commitment Open Science

    CA0035, 2014, Science & Technology

  39. Starred commitment Mandatory Reporting on Extractives

    CA0036, 2014, Extractive Industries

  40. Open Contracting

    CA0037, 2014, Open Contracting and Procurement

  41. Open Information on Budgets and Expenditures

    CA0038, 2014, Fiscal Transparency

  42. Digital Literacy

    CA0039, 2014, Capacity Building

  43. Open Information Core Commitment

    CA0040, 2014, Right to Information

  44. Consulting Canadians

    CA0041, 2014, Marginalized Communities

  45. Starred commitment International Aid Transparency Initiative: Publish plan to make CIDA activities available and accessible

    CA0010, 2012, Aid

  46. International Aid Transparency Initiative: Implement plan

    CA0011, 2012, Aid

  47. Opening Government of Canada Records: Increase access to archived federal documents at Library and Archives Canada

    CA0012, 2012, Records Management

  48. Opening Government of Canada Records: Issue new mandatory policy on document classification

    CA0013, 2012, Records Management

  49. Opening Government of Canada Records: Make classified information available online

    CA0014, 2012, E-Government

  50. GCDOCS: Deploy wave one of electronic record and document management solution

    CA0015, 2012, E-Government

  51. GCDOCS: Deploy across federal government

    CA0016, 2012, E-Government

  52. GCWEB: Develop consolidated web presence

    CA0017, 2012, E-Government

  53. GCWEB: Implement new platform

    CA0018, 2012, E-Government

  54. Data.gc.ca: Expand number of datasets available

    CA0019, 2012, E-Government

  55. Data.gc.ca: Implement data.gc.ca portal

    CA0020, 2012, E-Government

  56. Data.gc.ca: Improve standardization of data

    CA0021, 2012, E-Government

  57. Government of Canada Resource Management Data: Publish resource management and performance data

    CA0022, 2012, E-Government

  58. Government of Canada Resource Management Data: Enhance search and data tools

    CA0023, 2012, E-Government

  59. Consulting Canadians: Develop new platform for consultation

    CA0024, 2012, E-Government

  60. Consulting Canadians: Develop standard approach to use of social media

    CA0025, 2012, E-Government

  61. Consulting Canadians: Pilot a crowdsourcing initiative

    CA0026, 2012, E-Government

  62. Consulting Canadians: Enable use of common online tools

    CA0027, 2012, E-Government

  63. Open Regulation: Federal regulators to post forward regulatory plans

    CA0028, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  64. Open Regulation: Simplify engagement activities

    CA0029, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  65. Open Government Directive: Issue Directive on Open Government

    CA0001, 2012, E-Government

  66. Open Government Directive: Implement Directive on Open Government

    CA0002, 2012, E-Government

  67. Starred commitment Open Government Licence: Issue Open Government Licence

    CA0003, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  68. Starred commitment Open Government Licence: Adopt Open Government Licence

    CA0004, 2012, Records Management

  69. Modernising Administration of Access to Information: Pilot of online request and payment service

    CA0005, 2012, Fiscal Transparency

  70. Modernising Administration of Access to Information: Implement ATI Solution

    CA0006, 2012, Fiscal Transparency

  71. Modernising Administration of Access to Information: Make completed ATI request summaries searchable

    CA0007, 2012, Right to Information

  72. Virtual Library: Begin design of virtual library

    CA0008, 2012, E-Government

  73. Virtual Library: Launch virtual library

    CA0009, 2012, E-Government