October 2013    Print this article

A SHORT HISTORY OF A PRESTIGIOUS GEOSCIENTIFIC DOCUMENT COLLECTION

Sylvie Otis and Marie-Claude Bonneau
Ministère des Ressources naturelles

As part of its long-term vision, the Ministère des Ressources naturelles du Québec has always been careful to preserve geoscientific information about its territory. As a result, over the decades a significant collection of documents has been amassed from reports by geologists and others who have explored Québec in search of mineral wealth. To sustain and enrich this information over the years, it became necessary to develop expertise in documentary management and the distribution of geoscientific information. Accordingly, the bibliographic reference database known as Examine was created in 1975.

Examine contains bibliographic references for public mine exploration files from 1860 to the present day. It contains publications by Géologie Québec, as well as theses by Earth science students in Québec. In all, the database contains 79,847 bibliographic references, including roughly 63,500 mine exploration files or reports and 8,260 publications by Géologie Québec. On average, 1,000 new publications are added to the database every year. Each bibliographic entry contains information including the report title, author, author’s association, year of publication, title and description of plans, the precise location of the survey areas, as seen on Google Earth, drill numbers, substances examined, mineral indicators and more.

From paper to web – in several steps

Until 1995, MRN clients wishing to consult data in Examine had to go to an MRN office in person. In 1995, however, the database was offered on CD-ROM, along with a user-friendly search interface. Beginning in 1996, a new input and management interface was developed using ORACLE, and Examine was incorporated into the SIGEOM system.

In late 1998, Examine took its first steps onto the Internet. In the early 2000s, following a very conclusive pilot project, the MRN began the task of converting Québec’s geoscientific document collection into digital format, so that the Internet could be used as the distribution platform. For this monumental undertaking, an innovative and highly productive digitization centre was set up, using high-technology digitizers with the ability to digitize documents of all sizes, from different support media. The success of the undertaking is due in part to an internally-developed application called “Site Manager”, which is able to convert large volumes of documents to very high standards of integrity and integrality. “Site Manager” maintains constant contact with Examine and is able to manage the thousands of electronic files processed every day, monitoring them through all the steps of the digital conversion process.

Past, present and future: A prestigious document collection

So far, more than 70,000 documents containing more than 3,000,000 pages and 350,000 plans have been digitized and can be viewed on the Internet. This accounts for more than 80% of the total collection. The long conversion process will be completed in the coming months. Of course, the MRN continues to index and digitize hundreds of new documents from many different sources every year, and will also be undertaking additional archive digitization projects in the future. Its next major task will be to digitize the plans of Québec’s closed mines, currently kept in paper format and on microfiches.

Québec’s geological information in an easily-accessible format

As of now, users can consult the Examine database, view the documents it contains free of charge, and purchase those documents online, in paper or electronic format.

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© Gouvernement du Québec, 2013