Check out our Illinois Newspapers collection!

We are delighted that heritage organizations across the world find our tools useful. Along with a few Canadian institutions outside Ontario, we have a group of libraries in Illinois working to build individual and collaborative search portals for their digitized materials.

Way back, even before we were Knowledge Ontario, we got started with our first Illinois members, the Algonquin Area Public Library District and the Wilmette Public Library.

Now we’re up to six contributors, with the addition this month of the Downers Grove Public Library and the Highland Park Public Library. These organizations are working to get their local newspapers digitized and searchable, in the collaborative Illinois Newspapers portal.

Continue reading Check out our Illinois Newspapers collection!

Slides from our OLASC 2017 Sessions

We’ve uploaded the slide-decks from our two sessions at the Ontario Library Association Super Conference 2017:

When Things Get Personal: Privacy and Access in Online Community History

Speakers: Irene Robillard, Cindy Preece, David Bott, Melissa Redden

Bridging the Gap: Linked Open Data for Libraries, Archives, and Museums

Speakers: Stacy Allison-Cassin, Sheila Carey, Danielle Robichaud 

Follow us on Slideshare!


Fugitive Voices: Black-run periodicals in Abolition-era Canada

165 years ago, on February 12th, 1852, Henry Bibb published an announcement in his newspaper, The Voice of the Fugitive, calling for donations to his Homes For Refugees Fund. This was the latest in a long line of advocacy and activism by Bibb; his most notable was the founding of the Voice in 1851.642px-Henry_Bibb.png

Henry Bibb was born in 1815, in Louisville, Kentucky, into slavery. He married a free black woman named Mary Miles in 1848. He escaped when he was 22 and made it to Cincinnati, but returned for his wife Mary and was recaptured. He escaped again – with Mary this time – and they made their way to Detroit, crossing over to Windsor after the Fugitive Slave Act was passed in 1850. They immediately began taking in refugees who had arrived in Canada through the Underground Railroad.

On January 1st, 1851, the first issue of the Voice was published in Sandwich (now Amherstburg). Bibb had also self-published his autobiography by this time – Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, An American Slave. The Bibbs’ Refugee Home Society was also set up in 1851, and during its tenure settled refugees of slavery in approximately 2,000 acres in the Sandwich area. The Bibbs were often available to greet and settle newcomers personally. 

Continue reading Fugitive Voices: Black-run periodicals in Abolition-era Canada

Brant County’s VITA collections get lots of press!

Back in 2010, Brant County‘s use of VITA in their local-history digitization projects was featured in an amazing anthology: Digitization In The Real World. This book (free in PDF and other formats from the Internet Archive) is “written by practitioners for practitioners on lessons learned from small to medium-sized digitization projects.” Brant County is the only Canadian organization that contributed to the book, and does a great job of representing the process for small organizations. Archivist Misty de Meo wrote about the challenges of small budgets, the clever tactics used to circumvent it, and the importance of collaboration and partnerships with local organizations. And, of course, we love hearing people talk about their positive experiences with our VITA tools:

Continue reading Brant County’s VITA collections get lots of press!

Join us for the #1Lib1Ref campaign in Ontario!

1 Librarian, 1 Reference (#1Lib1Ref) started when someone realized how many claims on Wikipedia were missing citations. Participating is easy:

  1. Find an article that needs a citation (you can even use this handy randomizer!)
  2. Do some research to back up or debunk the claim
  3. Insert the reference, or edit the article to make a factual statement
  4. Add the #1Lib1Ref hashtag to your edit, in the Wikipedia Edit Summary
  5. Save the article – you’re done!

Continue reading Join us for the #1Lib1Ref campaign in Ontario!

What we’re up to at ODW!

2c5658ba-2a52-4ace-acfd-9b72c04cbb32National Digital Strategy

ODW Director Loren Fantin joined leaders from the National Library of the Netherlands, Library & Archives Canada and others at the Canadian National Heritage Digitization Strategy Foundational Assembly in October, to discuss the global digital collaboration strategies and to strike a National Steering Committee to guide Canada in implementing a much-needed national digital strategy.


Continue reading What we’re up to at ODW!

ODW gets interviewed for Open Shelf!

A big thank-you goes to Susanna Galbraith and the Open Shelf team for interviewing Loren and Jess about our work at OurDigitalWorld.

SG: What are a few of the greatest challenges libraries and archives face when creating open heritage collections?

LF & JP: When it comes to community history, we all want to tell a story. How we tell that story —  and how we capture it — happens in many different ways. The biggest challenge we see is that it’s difficult to find standards and tools that everyone will want to adopt for individual storytelling projects without feeling as though they are “flattening” everyone’s experience. On the other hand, we also see how social tagging and highly customized tools can dilute the strength of good metadata and sharing information. Striking a balance is a big learning curve.

You can read the whole interview at

The latest news from ODW!

Across Canada and the US, OurDigitalWorld is expanding!

Over the last few months, we’ve welcomed new partners from BC, Illinois, Michigan, and Ontario. Our All-in-One digitization projects mean thousands more heritage newspaper pages are now searchable online. We’re seeing a definite shift from closed, standalone systems and paper archives to online digital collections, and together this means the community of collections is exploding!

Continue reading The latest news from ODW!