Access Canada

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Background information

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.


The intention from the start had been that the database would continue to grow, and that, although the LARG would continue to take an editorial role, the contributions of those active and interested in Canadian studies would form an important contribution to the content of the site. To this end, the website has a “suggest a site” section: http://www.canadian-studies.net/accesscanada/suggest.html.

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:

1. Web resources should contain significant online content relevant to Canadian studies. Links that simply give an address or contact details for print or other physical resources will not ordinarily be added. A print guide to print resources is available:
Judy Collingwood, Canadian studies in the United Kingdom and Ireland: a guide to resources, 3rd ed, British Association for Canadian Studies, 1998, ISBN 0950906379. It is hoped that this guide will be updated in the near future.

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.

3. With regard to the “Genealogy” subject heading: this is intended to cover resources of interest to genealogy in Canada, and generally to those researching Canadian connections in their family’s history. It is not intended to be a listing of websites relating to individual family histories, and sites of this nature will not normally be added to Access Canada.

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).

5. New subject headings may be suggested. Where possible, these should follow the UNESCO thesaurus. Suggestions for new subject headings should be accompanied by at least one web resource for that heading.

6. Access Canada is not a commercial website, and does not advertise products and services.


page last modified 17-May-2006

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