Our Roots is a combination library, archive, museum and school all in one. The site contains the full text of thousands of Canadian local histories in French and English. On this site you can find the history of your small town, rural area, or large city, the Acadian migration to the Maritimes, Métis heroes, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or the Irish at Grosse Isle, all in a matter of seconds,
Our Roots now has close to 5,500 digital texts with 1.3 million pages of facts about Canadians and Canada, and it is still growing. A national network of libraries, universities, colleges, archives, historical associations, businesses, and individuals have generously donated time and copyright permission to have their materials digitized.
The stated goal of Our Roots is "to preserve Canada’s unique identity for future generations through the use of digital technology." Books that are out of print or only available in distant collections are readily accessible via the internet. It provides universal access to materials for all ages and not just for reading. There are interactive educational resources in both French and English for younger students, provided by partners Galileo Educational Network, iXmedia, and the Alberta Online Consortium. Scholars, researchers, genealogists and life-long learners can also view entire books online and take advantage of easy cross-collection searches for family, place names and events. A map of Canada allows you to target your search to a particular province.
The books are stored on Our Roots in TIFF format with LZW compression. Documents are scanned at original size at 300 dpi in 8-bit greyscale mode to preserve as much of the original document information as possible. When documents are in color, 24-bit RGB scans are made. These formats were selected as being the best formats available today for high-quality archival digital images. However, if you look at a book on the site, the stored image is converted at that moment to JPG images at a medium compression level, balancing on-screen quality with overall size of download.
You always see JPG images displayed in your web browser.
Searching on Our Roots is simple; you can search by title, author, subject, or even search words in the text of the books. You can also narrow a search down to only one province, should you wish to.
I spent some time looking at "Hutchinson's New Brunswick directory for 1865-66 : containing alphabetical directories of each place in the province, with a post office directory and an appendix containing much useful information." This book contained complete city directories for many of the towns and cities in New Brunswick. For most listings, the book provides full names and occupations of all heads of households in the province. If you are looking for New Brunswick ancestors of that time period, this one book is a gold mine! Our Roots has this and thousands of other books available online.
The pages were sharp and easy to read on my computer screen. I found that I could save the images to my hard drive and even copy-and-paste them into other documents. I could also print the pages, if I wished to do so. Copyrights still remain in force so you do need to be cautious about sharing the pages with others. Of course, anyone else who is interested can go to the same site and look at the same pages for themselves. Therefore, copyrights will not be much of an issue for most users, only if you wish to republish information.
Our Roots is available to every one free of charge. In addition, you have the option of creating a user name and password for yourself on the site. Doing so allows you to save bookmarks on the site and also to create a list of books of interest, also to be saved on the site. However, creating the user name and password is entirely optional; you do not need to do that to search and find books.
Our Roots is a perfect example of what makes the Internet so valuable to genealogists and to historians. This and other sites combine to create the world's largest library, available to you twenty-four hours a day in the privacy of your home.
Our Roots is available at http://www.ourroots.ca.