Is the French-language content produced by Quebec, whether cultural or scientific, clearly visible? Do the creations from here find their audiences and the audiences, the creations? How to support the resilience of a French-speaking society in North America?
In our digital lives, and on this International Francophonie Day, the theme of the discoverability of French-speaking content is essential. According to an unpublished survey by Léger1 conducted at the request of the Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales du Québec (BAnQ), the youngest Quebecers are much less likely than the oldest to search exclusively in French on search engines (23% compared to 37%) . Conversely, the youngest are much more likely to search as much in French as in English (29% versus 17%). However, these behaviors affect the content that is then offered and explored.
In the era of algorithms, discoverability becomes the condition of all the happy coincidences that allow a culture to be built. BAnQ takes a keen interest in this issue, because it touches the essence of its action. Making Québec’s ideas and words accessible, encouraging their exploration and promoting these fortuitous discoveries that change a day or a life is at the heart of our missions.
Even if new French content is added every day on the platforms, is it visible when you search in English? Understanding how search algorithms work and how people use them is a necessity to ensure that all Quebecers have access to diverse content as well as our cultural treasures.
Numerous surveys2 show that young people want more content in Quebec and in French. They want to understand, be moved, laugh and reflect upon contact with our works. This is also what we see at the Grande Bibliothèque, the National Library and in our archives.3
How do we reconcile this appetite for a culture in French with our behaviors online? How do we make algorithms work better for us?
BAnQ has specialists who see to it. They work together with other experts from Quebec and elsewhere to promote the discoverability of French-language content. With our French-speaking partners, we also act in promotion and digital marketing, as well as by facilitating the distribution of content by various means, including unique identifiers (ISBN, ISNI, etc.). These actions are necessary, but are they sufficient to effectively promote our heritage, our literature, our scientific advances, our cinema?
This is how we will play our part in the ecosystem of culture. To cultivate and feed the curiosity of our audiences, we must be curious ourselves.
Libraries and archives have always embodied these spaces of discovery and curiosity, they have always been the beating heart of a learning society.
In Quebec, being discovered is the condition for existing. In this month of La Francophonie, let us renew our commitment to the development of our culture in the face of the content that overwhelms our networks and mobilizes our attention. What are we doing to plug into our culture? What are we doing to make algorithms help us rather than lead us astray? What are we doing so that digital makes it easier to share the best ideas from here and there rather than narrowing our horizons?
Let’s create these new digital navigation plans that will allow us to grow. Let these technological advances shine a light on our creations rather than blind us to our own potential. Let’s work together so that our culture shines rather than slipping into obscurity.
BAnQ and its partners are there to help you meet this challenge. Do you want to build a new learning society with us?