The Robertson Library at UPEI officially launched its online digital collections Monday, so people on the Island and across the world can now access interviews, books, maps and other information from the comfort of home.

The computer-based library of books, newspapers, maps and audio recordings can be accessed through one website called IslandArchives.ca.

A bird's eye map of Charlottetown from 1878 can be found on Island Imagined, a collection of hundreds of P.E.I. maps that have been scanned and digitized and are available on line to everyone.

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Donald Moses, of the Robertson Library, shows off the new online publication. ((CBC))

"There are a ton of manuscript maps — beautiful, beautiful hand drawn maps in the Island Imagined collection, just as an example that the public archives and records office has stewarded for many years," Donald Moses, of the Robertson Library, said.

UPEI unveiled its one stop website that guides researchers and history buffs to different heritage collections, like Island Imagined.

There is also a collection of books about PEI communities and groups, and another about Island newspapers from the past.

At Island Voices, people can hear taped interviews by historian Dutch Thompson.

Historians like the searchability of the collections.

"You can use a key word then go immediately to the source that would be the most help.  Whether that's an oral interview, whether that's a map, or whether that's a book," UPEI associate professor Ed MacDonald said.

The materials that have been reproduced on line come from individuals, groups, and places like the provincial archives and the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation. But finding what you're looking for in person can be time consuming, and take a toll on the artifacts.

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UPEI associate history professor Ed MacDonald welcomes the online archive. ((CBC))

"A lot of the materials that relate to our heritage are old and falling apart, they're fragile," MacDonald said. "And one of the tasks of an archive or a museum is to make sure that they're OK, and preserve them."

UPEI was hoping to build a $4 million addition onto the Robertson Library to house the digital collections, and provide a place for people to gather. But that plan is on hold because of uncertainty with government funding.  

"It hasn't been permanently put aside, it's simply on hold until we see how things flush out down the road, probably a year or two," said UPEI librarian Mike Leggott.

People at the launch said digitizing PEI's heritage materials will help preserve the Island's history for generations to come.