Quiet Demise of the Print Version

Attentive law librarians and those who read ‘about’ pages on websites and likely most Slaw readers will not be surprised that beginning in 2016, there will no longer be a print subscription available for the Alberta Hansard. The Legislative Assembly of Alberta is following in the footsteps of most other jurisdictions in Canada, which do not offer subscriptions for parliamentary publications. Many public bodies, for very sensible economic reasons, have ceased print subscriptions.

The Alberta Hansard remains the official report of the debates of the Legislature of Alberta, as it has been since it began in 1972. This well researched and highly indexed publication is fully searchable on the Legislative Assembly of Alberta website for it’s entire publication history. In addition, there are Compiled Versions which cover all of the material in a session and could likely be used for print on demand as there is no copyright notice on the documents.

Notice about ceasing the print version was received by subscribers of the print version – the few that existed. With subscribers dwindling, and the cost of printing and distribution high, the business decision makes sense.

There are only two issues that concern me about this move:

  • The passing of the print means preservation and access are questions to be answered. See Tim Knight’s post Is Digitization Preservation?. Shifting the work to collecting institutions who need, for their business case, to retain printed copies is fine as long as those collectors can manage their print on demand needs and they can also manage to document the processes, timing and necessity for the increasing volume of this type of work.
  • The disclaimer at the top of the Assembly Documents and Records page says:

    Disclaimer: The electronic versions of Legislative Assembly documents provided on this site are for informational purposes only. The printed versions remain the official record.

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