New library agreement provides province-wide access to research materials


Thanks to a groundbreaking agreement with one of North America’s leading sources of historical information, people and classrooms across the province now have unprecedented access to a wealth of archival materials spanning several centuries.

Libraries at UVic, SFU and UBC, with the support of the BC Electronic Library Network, have collaborated to negotiate life-time access, on behalf of students, faculty and BC residents, to all of the Gale Digital Collections products—nearly 200 million pages of digitized historical content. This is by far the largest such initiative to date and offers access to over 30 databases.

“The Points to the Past initiative expands access to a wealth of historical content for students, faculty, and the general public, enabling us to facilitate life-long learning and to contribute to a better-informed society,” said Jonathan Bengtson, University Librarian for the University of Victoria. 

Through their local public, academic, school, or museum library, BC residents can access all Gale Digital Collections databases including digitized versions of periodicals such as The Economist, The Financial Times and Associated Press content, as well as digitized materials from The Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum and research complex. In addition, residents will be able to explore the North American story through Indigenous Peoples: North America, as well as make new discoveries with access to Nineteenth Century Collections Online and Eighteenth Century Collections Online, often considered essential resources for the modern academic researcher. All of the materials will be delivered via Gale’s Artemis: Primary Sources platform, which means the collections are cross-searchable and leverage advanced research features such as graphing and search visualization tools.

“We believe in engaging learners of all kinds and this agreement enables us to offer a wealth of material to residents—whether the K-12 student, the university scholar or the local historian—and we expect it will lead to new research discoveries and life-long learning,” said Paul Gazzolo, senior vice president and general manager for Gale.

This agreement expands access to a wealth of historical content. Centuries of searchable primary source material—including maps, photos, newspapers, manuscripts, pamphlets, poems and more—are available to everyone in BC at

Victoria residents should have no trouble jumping in and searching for distinctive Vancouver Island place names like Esquimalt, Saanich and Nanaimo as a way to familiarize themselves with the kinds of materials these databases have to offer.

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Keywords: history

People: Jonathan Bengtson, Paul Gazzolo

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