UBC digitization program provides instant global access to B.C. heritage

Digital images of fossils that are archived at a branch of the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation will soon be available online thanks to a community initiative from the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre at the University of British Columbia.

The project is among 21 finalists selected by the Learning Centre?s B.C. History Digitization Program. Launched in 2006, the program provides funds to make B.C. heritage accessible to the public. Original and historical documents ? including images, sound or print materials such as books and documents ? are scanned and converted into digital files that can be viewed or heard on a computer.

Electronic collections featuring community newspapers, B.C. history, fossil specimens, medical artifacts and works by renowned wildlife artist Robert Bateman will all be a mouse click away, thanks to the digitization program.

The Tumbler Ridge project involves the creation of an online database of two- and three-dimensional images of fossils collected from northeastern British Columbia. These are archived at the Peace Region Paleontology Research Centre, the natural history branch of the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation.

The 2008 projects should be completed and ready for free online viewing with in a year. Similar to 2007, a large number of this year?s projects also involve digitizing community newspapers from around the province. Photographic collections also figure prominently. For example, one project involves the digitization of 3,200 slides illustrating the artistic, environmental and family aspects of Canadian wildlife painter Robert Bateman.

Other collections to be digitized include early photographs of Bowen Island and Prince George, along with images of expeditions to northern B.C. in the early 20th century.

Additional efforts include the digitization of medical artifacts, multimedia theatre archives, provincial flora and more. A complete listing of 2008 projects is available at www.ikebarberlearningcentre.ubc.ca/ps/2008Projects.html.

Already available online are links to digitization projects from 2007, which include newspapers, Indo-Canadian oral history, Salt Spring Island photos and audiotapes, Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs history and Vancouver city directories from 1860-1901. Find these links and other project descriptions at: www.ikebarberlearningcentre.ubc.ca/ps/2007Projects.html.

The British Columbia History Digitization Program supports the goals of the Learning Centre ? named in honour of Irving K. Barber, who donated more than $20 million to develop the facility ? to provide lifelong learning opportunities for the people of British Columbia.

The digitization program provides up to $200,000 in overall annual matching funds. The program provides three funding categories for organizations involved with the preservation of historical provincial material, such as libraries, archives, museums, post-secondary institutions and community groups. The next round of program applications will begin in mid-December. For more information, see www.ikebarberlearningcentre.ubc.ca/ps/BCDigitInfo.html.