Broadview Magazine contacted the archives in June to ask about our current digitization timelines and we provided some detail on the complexity of the work, our status for hiring a contractor to facilitate the work and the projected timeline based on the TRC work. The writer did not include that information in their article and urged the church to act faster to digitize content. The information below is to provide some helpful context about what is involved in the work.
As experienced during the document production process for the TRC, preparing records for digitization – scanning fragile or oversized materials and applying information to digital records to facilitate quick retrieval – is complex work.
At present, the total count of archival textual records to review, (this includes bound volumes, ledgers, and unbound paper), is approximately 1,000,000 pages. This number is likely to increase as we continue to look and list material of relevance to Indigenous communities.
We are also reviewing relevant library material in our holdings of interest to Indigenous communities. This includes reviewing 345 books and pamphlets, a portion of which has already gone out for digitization.
The number of periodicals published by the church or its antecedent denominations that need to be reviewed is 65. These periodicals are of various volumes, issues and page lengths and include The Christian Guardian, The New Outlook and The Observer.
A portion of these records were reviewed as part of the Truth and Reconciliation work, however the scope for digitization during that project was specifically related to records holding information about residential schools. The current digitization project has a broader scope to capture a wider breadth of records documenting Indigenous – Church interactions.
We are continuously looking at ways to improve the speed of the project in Toronto, including outsourcing digitization and bringing in additional contractors. The Bringing the Children Home group has authorized funding to facilitate this work across Regional Council Archives Network.