New digital archive allows you to explore Burlington’s past


Published August 23, 2023 at 6:20 pm

This photo of M. C. (Max) Smith in his 1903 Rambler on Smith Lane can be found in the Burlington Digital Archive.

A new online portal curated through the Burlington Public Library (BPL) allows visitors to view a large collection of local historical artifacts.

The Burlington Digital Archive brings together the extensive collection of the BPL, the Burlington Historical Society and the City of Burlington which has been painstakingly put into electronic form to provide instant access to items such as photographs, maps, newspaper articles and documents.

Usually, the actual items are available for reference only as many are rare and fragile and can only be handled by library staff. As such, they are rarely seen. However, digital technology changes that.

“The goal of the archive is to make local history more accessible,” said Marisa Purdy, Burlington Public Library’s Local History & Digital Archives Coordinator. “We’re committed to making our Local History Collection accessible to the public, recognizing the importance of collecting, preserving and sharing Burlington’s heritage. By digitizing these items, we aim to share Burlington’s history with as many people as possible.”

There are currently more than 6,000 items in the archive with many more waiting to be digitized. Purdy said that number will increase as more items become available. (You can go directly to the search engine of the achieve by following this link).

She said Burlington residents have a strong attachment to the past and are excited and eager to learn about the city’s history. That, combined with the willingness of the three contributors to preserve Burlington’s history and cultural heritage for future generations ensures that the archive will become a well-used resource, she said.

The new platform allows users to easily search the archive to view and download the images. It can be accessed anywhere through devices that have an internet connection.

A quick search on the already-active site returns dozens of results for topics such as “churches”, “streets”, “hockey” and the “Brant Inn”.

Today’s launch of the Burlington Digital Archive will coincide with an interactive display at the Central Branch where visitors can mark their home on a giant historic map.

Here is how to use the archive

You can find Burlington Digital Archive on the library website in a few ways:

  • Under RESOURCES, select Local History Databases
  • Under SERVICES, select Burlington History Room
  • HOME PAGE: Choose ‘BPL site’ and type Burlington Digital Archive in the main search box

Burlington Digital Archive houses three different repositories — one each for Burlington Public Library, Burlington Historical Society, and the City of Burlington. You can narrow your search to a single repository or browse all three. You can also explore various themed collections or use the search feature to seek out specific items.

Once you open the digital archive home page, you can type a keyword in a search box or select one of the three main menu options. With over 6,000 items in the Burlington Digital Archive, it may be helpful to narrow your search results by applying a few pre-set filters. The filters are provided on the left side of your computer screen or in a ‘filter results’ box on your mobile device.

Items located on the Digital Archive are access copies only. Access copies are downloadable and are intended to provide essential information for everyday use. Downloaded material may be used for research and private study. All of the items in the Burlington Digital Archive contain a copyright statement and users must follow those statements and the Canadian Copyright Act. There is more information about this under the Rights & Reproduction page on the Burlington Digital Archive website.









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