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News Articles - Province donates $1 million for Alberta Online Encyclopedia

Province donates $1 million for Alberta Online Encyclopedia
The Edmonton Journal, October 6, 2004
By Cathy Lord

(Copyright Edmonton Journal 2004)

Adriana Davies has one million reasons to be happy.

As executive director of the Heritage Community Foundation, she’s overjoyed the Alberta government will contribute $1 million to set up the Alberta online Encyclopedia as a 2005 centennial legacy project.

The encyclopedia will make the province’s rich past accessible to every Albertan, Canadian and Internet user by integrating on a giant database the foundation’s 29 heritage websites and future websites.

Since the foundation was formed five years ago, more than $7 million worth of educational resources have been developed in partnership with heritage, cultural, science and technology communities, garnering millions of hits from Internet users.

Under the online encyclopedia project, all the heritage websites will be linked and indexed so they are searchable by keywords, Davies said.

The $1 million from government will be used to design and set up the giant database and establish both the hardware and software to create and manage the resource to allow full access to all Internet users.

Used by teachers, students, genealogists, researchers and journalists, the 29 websites which can be located at albertasource.ca have become a central source of Alberta information.

“As a society we need to understand our past and the online encyclopedia will give us authoritative information at our fingertips,” Davies said.

The 29 websites include text, pictures, video and audio about the province’s political history, famous Alberta law cases, Treaty 8 and the Edmonton Oilers history, to name a few.

The Edmonton Oilers heritage site was so popular that it received one million hits over the first two days it was up.

The foundation has a core staff of about 15 and employs about 50 student inters over the year to work on the technical and content aspects of the websites.

“We are building an intellectual infrastructure that’s crucial in the information age,” said Davies, who was one of the four senior editors of the Canadian Encyclopedia. “The web is a great way to communicate our heritage to the public.

“What we’re trying to do is show the importance of our heritage in our understanding of ourselves and our evolution as a society and as a province with the context of Canada and internationally.”

The foundation will be implementing a fundraising program called the A to Z campaign to sustain the encyclopedia project and keep it current for generations to come.

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