When John Vallier, the Libraries’ Head of Distributed Media, heard that State University New York (SUNY) Buffalo was deaccessioning a collection of Radio Canada International spoken word and musical sound recordings and that they needed a new home, he was quick to confer with Canadian Studies Librarian Sion Romaine to see if this would be a suitable acquisition for the University Libraries. Indeed, it was!
Radio Canada International (RCI) was started after World War II as the International Service of the publicly-owned Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, with a mandate to present a distinctly Canadian point of view to the world. From the early 1970’s to the mid-1980’s, RCI used material on the recordings in its regular broadcasts to promote Canada and Canadian culture to international audiences. Taken as a whole, the collection of approximately 700 records traces the emergence of a new Canadian identity, the development of Canada as an independent nation on the world stage, and the implementation at the federal level of Canada’s official policies of multiculturalism and bilingualism. The collection supports the research and teaching needs of the Canadian Studies Center as well as other departments with research interests in journalism, communication, public broadcasting, and government policy. Records in the collection are not widely held, even in Canada, and very few other libraries have as complete a collection as SUNY Buffalo’s.
A wide-range of topics related to Canada and current events are covered and include spoken word interviews, reports, plays and music in either English or French. (A few recordings are in Japanese or Spanish, reflecting the diverse markets RCI was intended to serve.) Titles cover both typically Canadian topics as well as those of, well, more general interest:
• The ecstasy of Rita Joe
• The adventures of Ookpik, the Arctic Owl
• Radio teatro desde Canadá
• Shoveling snow near the North Pole
• Cocaine for a healthy metabolism
• Quebec monks in cheese
• Werewolves may have been people too
• Are Canadians boring?
The collection is now available at the Suzzallo Media Center Desk in the Suzzallo and Allen Libraries.
This acquisition was made possible through the generous support of Kenneth S. and Faye G. Allen Libraries’ Endowment.
Romaine’s degree is from the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies at the University of British Columbia with a research focus in First Nations library services. Sion oversees the Libraries Subject Guide on Canada, provides a monthly notice of new Canadian Studies acquisitions, and serves as the Library representative on the Executive Council for the Pacific Northwest Canadian Studies Consortium.