Work on Access Canada began during the early months of 2004, with the intention of building a core of records to enable a live site to be made available within a short period of time. The initial subject areas and web sites were selected by members of the BACS Library and Resources Group (LARG). At the time this included representatives from UK university libraries, the British Library, National Library of Scotland, National Archives, Royal Institute of International Affairs, and the Academic Relations Office of the Canadian High Commission in London. At meetings of the LARG, subject headings were decided on, and members were assigned sections to populate.
A decision was taken to base headings on the UNESCO thesaurus (see http://www.ulcc.ac.uk/unesco/ for more details). The thesaurus was favoured as it had a fairly simple structure, and relatively short list of terms, which nevertheless aimed to be universal in subject coverage and application. Some changes were made to headings where it was felt that an alternative term better reflected the language of debate in Canadian studies (eg using “Aboriginal” rather than “Indigenous” peoples) or where the type of listing was not covered by a thesaurus (eg “Canadian studies centres in the UK”).
A basic design for the website was developed by the LARG. The intention was to ensure that the pages were clear and simple to use and maintain. Use of database software was considered, but rejected in the first instance, as this would have entailed a larger project. However, use of database software will be reconsidered as the size of the resource grows.
Access Canada was launched during the Summer 2004. In the first six months since its launch, there were nearly 5,000 visitors to the site. As a result of suggestions from visitors, the number of websites described has more than doubled, and is still growing. Due to restraints of staff time, it has not been possible to reply to everyone who has sent in suggestions, and it can sometimes take some time to process new suggestions. However, the LARG here records its thanks to everyone who has contributed to the development of the website.
Notes for maintaining the website
The content and organisation of the website is regularly reviewed. The following principles have been applied in this process:
2. The term “Canadian Studies” refers to a field of study and activities which are often marked by their interdisciplinary nature. Relevant web resources are often of interest to more than one discipline, and so can be entered under more than one subject heading. These are indicated by “Associated headings” at the end of a description. Similarly, subject headings can be linked to related headings by using “See also” at the top of a page.
4. Where a subject heading is fairly general, or where there are a large number of resources listed, the heading may be sub-divided. Sub-headings are shown at the top of the page (see Geography as an example).