Legal deposit becomes mandatory for digital publications

Digital technology will now officially be one of the essential cultural archives to be preserved in Quebec. Legal deposit, which for 53 years has required publishers from here to leave two copies of their books at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) to ensure their conservation, will apply from 2022 to books and digital publications, such as learned it The duty. It will also expand to some websites and dematerialized music. A huge addition for the collective memory.

“It is absolutely important”, this extension of legal deposit to digital, according to the specialist in digital cultures Jonathan Roberge. “We should have woken up a long time ago,” says the holder of the Canada Research Chair in New Digital Environments.

The Minister of Culture believes so too. “It was time for BAnQ, which was lagging far behind other countries and Canada, to enter the XXIe century. It took a very long time. I have been working on this since I arrived. There, I am modifying the regulations so that finally, legal deposit is made compulsory for digital publications. With voluntary deposit [instauré en 2001], we were losing a piece of collective memory. We are here to correct this shortcoming. “

Legal deposit? It is the lever which makes it possible to “bring together the documentary heritage published, to ensure that it is preserved for posterity and that it remains accessible to citizens,” recalls Mireille Laforce, director of legal deposit and acquisitions at BAnQ , where this collection is preserved. “Digital is now added to that. “

Digital eternities

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) added it, this virtual heritage, in 2007. Fifteen years ago, an eternity in this super fast era. “Without the preservation of digital documents, it is a large part of what is happening and of being socially organized that is lost, that will be lost,” recalls Jonathan Roberge, who is also a professor at the Institute. national scientific research (INRS).

At the same time, Quebec announces that it is investing $ 6.8 million in BAnQ’s digital shift. Of this total, “$ 3.6 million will be paid for projects and activities in information resources, such as the modernization of the management system of libraries and the Service québécois du livre Adapté”, indicates the press release of the Ministry of Culture. .

Two and a half million will also go to the acquisition of new equipment, the digitization and distribution of its collections and funds. This sum will also be used to renew BAnQ’s technological infrastructures and to increase the discoverability of cultural content. These 6.1 million will be recurring.

Lost memories

Si Mme Laforce recalls that digital legal deposit has been done on a voluntary basis since 2001, she welcomes the imminent obligation. “In the commercial edition of the digital book, BAnQ believes that we have received [sans l’obligation légale] the publications of about 70% of commercial publishers. It is very good. In government publishing, we cover 90% – that’s at the heart of our mandate. “

“Where it was more difficult,” continues the director, “was in all digital periodicals: newspapers, newsletters of all kinds, magazines. I estimate that we have kept 30%, but it is a rough estimate, ”she wishes to clarify. If we see the glass half empty, it means that we have lost 70% of this production.

The biggest change, for BAnQ’s legal deposit team, is the addition of dematerialized music. “This is the sector that we cover the least, the one where we have to adjust the most,” says Mme Strength. Associations with the musical world should facilitate the deal. “The industry has done a lot of work on managing its metadata, which has been worked on for discoverability. From there, we want to graft, a little later, the arrival of the files. “

“Numerimorphosis” and acceleration

To meet the new document collection requirements, BAnQ is entitled to $ 700,000 “reserved for upgrading the technological processes and structures that will allow […] to receive the content ”. Content on multiplied documents. Because for a music album released on vinyl, CD and digitally, BAnQ must keep the three media.

The legal deposit also aims to bring together the different forms in which the publisher has decided to publish the same content, recalls Strength. “If there is a place in Quebec where the last copy of… of everything should be, in fact, it should be here. “

How to absorb the additional workload required by legal deposit? “We will try to win a [plus grande] ability to proceed what we are going to receive, analyzes the director. As we already do voluntary deposit, we have tools for depositing digital publications; as we have done for a long time, these tools have already aged. Now is the time to see them again. “

Will the new financial resources be sufficient? For Jonathan Roberge, from INRS, the sinews of war are more in human resources. “The faster Quebec society changes, the more there will be a need for archiving. It is proportional. It puts enormous pressure. The challenges are important, the sums to be invested too; it is the very nature of the “numerimorphosis” and the acceleration of the tempo in our societies, which forces us to keep more and more traces and archives. “

“You have to accumulate and store more, which is done from a technical point of view. We will also have to format this data. Raw data is an oxymoron, they say [“les données brutes, c’est un oxymore”] , continues the specialist. They need to be tidied up and organized. Instead of relying on algorithms and automatons to organize judgments of importance for cultural products, an institution like BAnQ must be able to have the human resources to do its work in the coming years, ”says the researcher.

“It takes specialists who organize content, who make collections, who present them to the public. The archive, in the BAnQ sense, is above all the ability to give it back to the public; the mere collection of content with metadata that is archived in hard disks at archives is relatively uninteresting. Hence the need for significant human resources. “

What for the moment remains uncovered in the budgets of BAnQ.

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