Title:Canada’s Digital Collections: Youth Employment Opportunities and Canadian Content Online
Authors:Nora Hockin
Publication:MW2000: Museums and the Web 2000

Since 1996, Canada's Digital Collections (CDC), a federal government program, has been helping organizations across Canada build a stock of high-quality Canadian content on the Internet. The central focus of the program has been to provide on-the-job experience in information technology for young Canadians. Using an innovative approach to skills development and employment, CDC provides funds for museums, libraries, archives, firms, schools, and other organizations to hire teams of youth to digitize significant Canadian holdings and create dynamic multimedia web sites.

This paper will outline the benefits to museums and cultural institutions of a successful model for economical digitization and internet-based access to analogue materials. Specifically, this paper will describe the unique design of the CDC program: objectives, components and delivery. CDC provides the structure, technical guidelines and expert advice that enable even novice participants to execute publication-quality Web products. In particular, CDC is a cost-effective funding model for developing partnerships among governments, cultural institutions and entrepreneurial youth. On the one hand, cultural institutions benefit by receiving funds for the digitization of museum collections and other holdings reflecting Canadian identity. On the other hand, youth between the ages of 15 and 30 develop information technology and business skills and experience by participating in short-term multimedia and digitization projects. The youth also learn about their country through the process of creating these websites.

One of the most important sources of Canadian content on the Internet, Canada's Digital Collections currently houses over 320 web sites ranging from the treasures of Canadian institutions such as the National Library of Canada, the National Archives and the Museum of Civilization, to the local histories and way of life of Canadian communities. Take a virtual tour through some of the web sites created by youth from Canada's museum resources: