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On December 17, 2014, a crew from CBC National News visited the Preservation Centre for a story on the digitization of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) service files and to interview Librarian and Archivist of Canada Dr. Guy Berthiaume.
Library and Archives Canada is currently digitizing more than 640,000 personnel service files of the First World War. When the project will be completed in 2016, the public will be able to easily and quickly download high-quality digital copies of these service files, free of charge. It is estimated that 32 million pages will be available online once all the files are processed.
The feature story will air on CBC’s “The National” on December 25th, and on the CBC radio programs, “The World at Six” and “The World This Hour” on December 26th.
Librarian and Archivist of Canada Dr. Guy Berthiaume reflects on his first six months at the helm of Library and Archives Canada in an interview with CBC National News reporter Susan Lunn in one of the laboratories of the Preservation Centre in Gatineau, Quebec.
Bruce Way, Imaging Technician, supervises service files being digitized by a high-speed scanner. At its highest capacity, this machine is able to scan 60–70 pages per minute.
Close to 100 years old, the CEF personnel files are among the most popular items in LAC’s vast collection. They are also quite brittle and extremely fragile. The meticulous work of conservation technicians, like Emilie Gamelin, consists of removing staples, paper clips and glue, and in some cases treating the files for mould. After this preparation is completed, the files are digitized.
A typical service file can consist of up to two or three dozen forms dealing with enlistment, medical and dental history, hospitalization, and notification of death, etc. Some files even contain photos, medals, personal letters to loved ones, and other items. Sylvain Belanger, Director General of the Stewardship Branch at Library and Archives, shows some of these unique items to CBC National News reporter Susan Lunn.