Acquisitions Advisory Committee

Acquisitions Advisory Committee


The mandate of the Acquisitions Advisory Committee is to provide advice and recommendations on acquisition policies, strategies, orientations, plans, tools, and select acquisitions, taking into account Library and Archives Canada's (LAC) mandate and major client groups.


The Committee members represent diverse perspectives from across Canada, coming from the archival, library, museum, academic, Government of Canada, historical, and art history communities.

LAC has three ex-officio members: the directors general responsible for Private Archives, Government Records and Published Heritage.

The committee is chaired by LAC's Chief Operating Officer.

  • Catherine Arseneau: Beaton Institute
  • Gwen Bird: Simon Fraser University
  • Tim Cook: Canadian War Museum
  • Michèle Dagenais: Université de Montréal
  • Victoria Dickenson: Volunteer
  • Anne Dondertman: University of Toronto
  • Robin Jarvis Brownlie: University of Manitoba
  • Michel Lalonde: University of Ottawa
  • Michel Lessard: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  • Ian Milligan: University of Waterloo
  • Marianne Scott: Friends of Library and Archives Canada


  • Pierre Gamache: Library and Archives Canada
  • Chantal Marin-Comeau: Library and Archives Canada
  • Robert McIntosh: Library and Archives Canada


  • Normand Charbonneau: Library and Archives Canada


The committee meets a maximum of 4 times per year, with one in-person meeting annually.

Meeting in Ottawa on January 13, 2016

  • Agenda, January 13, 2016

    8:45 a.m.

    9:00 a.m​ ​Greetings

    9:00 a.m. – 9:20 a.m.

    Welcoming remarks and Terms of Reference

    • Normand Charbonneau
      Chief Operating Officer

    9:20 a.m. – 9:40 a.m.


    • All participants​

    9:40 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

    ​LAC's Acquisition Domains

    • Pierre Gamache
      Director General, Operations Integration
    • Chantal Marin-Comeau
      Director General, Evaluation and Acquisitions
    • Robert McIntosh
      Director General, Task Force on Government Records

    10:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.


    ​10:45 a.m. – 11:20 a.m.

    ​Policy Framework on Evaluation and Acquisition

    • Lucie Séguin
      Director general, Strategic Research and Policy
    • Dara Price
      Director, Strategic Policy and Advice

    11:20 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

    Private Archives Acquisition Orientation

    • Antonio Lechasseur
      Director, Culture and Society

    ​12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.


    ​1:30 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.

    Documenting the Web

    • Tom Smyth
      Manager, Digital Capacity

    ​2:15 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

    Political and Governance Records

    • Elizabeth Mongrain
      Manager, Political Affairs and Governance

    3:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.


    3:15 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

    Reappraisal Program for Government Records

    • Tina Lloyd
      Project manager, Reappraisal

    4:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

    Conclusion and next meetings

    • Normand Charbonneau
  • Summary of discussion, January 13, 2016

    Attendees: All members were present for this inaugural meeting.

    • 1. Introduction
      Mr. Normand Charbonneau, Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief Operating Officer at Library and Archives Canada (LAC), welcomed the committee members to the first meeting of the Acquisitions Advisory Committee (AAC). This committee is the second of three committees established to provide LAC with an outside view on key areas of its own mandate. One committee is dedicated to Services (first meeting held in December 2015), one to Acquisitions and the last, to be launched in 2016, will be dedicated to Public Programming.

      Mr. Charbonneau advised that, although members sit on the committee as individuals, they are encouraged to share documentation with their colleagues and professional associations.

    • 2. Published Heritage Acquisition at LAC
      Mr. Pierre Gamache, Director General of Operations Integration, gave a presentation on the acquisition of published heritage. Members were particularly interested in the application of legal deposit regulations to web content. Members encouraged LAC to consider expanding its theses program.

    • 3. Private Archives Acquisitions at LAC
      Ms. Chantal Marin-Comeau, Director General of Evaluation and Acquisitions Branch, gave a presentation on the acquisition of private archives. Members pointed to the common issues of formats and readability in acquisition and the need for innovative solutions to address them. They also underscored the importance of collaborating with donors prior to the transfer of documents. Members sought clarification about LAC's collaboration with other archives and the National, Provincial and Territorial Archivists Council (NPTAC), and about the concept of national significance. Ms. Marin-Comeau gave additional details on a project with NPTAC member organizations to develop "best fit" guidelines for placing records in appropriate repositories. Members of the committee were especially interested in First Nations archives as an area of focus and in pursuing initiatives related to oral history archives at the national level.

    • 4. Government Archives Acquisitions at LAC
      Mr. Robert McIntosh, Director General of Government Records Branch, gave a presentation on the acquisition of government archives. Members were interested in the particular context in which government records are acquired by LAC and stressed the need for a broader view of the information lifecycle in the government context. Mr. McIntosh reiterated the importance of LAC in the Government of Canada context and its role in Open Government initiatives.

    • 5. Evaluation and Acquisition Policy Framework (EAPF)
      Ms. Lucie Séguin, Director General of Strategic Research and Policy, and Ms. Dara Price, Director of Strategic Policy and Advice, presented the principles and key elements of the revised Evaluation and Acquisition Policy Framework. Members inquired as to how LAC intends to collaborate with other memory institutions. The presenters explained that such collaboration is usually already in place among professionals when LAC receives offers of donation, whether by informal phone inquiry, referrals, exploring alternative access options, etc. Members sought clarity on the concept of complementarity of collections. They discussed the possibilities digital archives afforded for innovative practices in areas such as indexing and cross-referencing material. LAC underscored its commitment to partner with other organizations for acquisition and other purposes.

      The committee explored the concept of national significance together with the regional significance of some federal government records. Members also discussed the importance of balancing the wishes of donors of archives with those of users of archives. The committee recommended that capacity be a consideration, not a principle, and that access also be included in the framework.

      Action item: LAC accepted the committee's recommendations and will amend the current EAPF accordingly.

    • 6. Acquisition Orientation
      Committee members questioned the division of acquisition fields and the relative importance of some facets of Canadian society, as well as how First Nations were presented in the model. Discussions focused on the contemporary nature of the model and its potential for political bias. They also wondered how user requests were taken into consideration and about LAC's approach for seeking donations. Committee members recommended that social media also be reflected in the Acquisition Orientation. Finally, the committee recommended that the Orientation be renamed "Acquisition Strategy".

      Action item: LAC agreed to revise the Acquisition Orientation document to reflect the discussions.

    • 7. Web archiving
      The committee inquired as to whether LAC intends to document the broad Canadian web domain and how copyright and access would be handled in this case. They were also interested in how LAC documents the perception of Canada elsewhere and encouraged LAC to collaborate in university-led initiatives aimed at reducing the duplication of efforts. Technological obsolescence, disappearing websites, opportunities for improved presentation of archived websites, and frequency of website captures were all discussed. The committee supported the collection of materials by Aboriginal authors, newspaper comments sections, and twitter feeds related to key events.

    • 8. Political Archives
      The committee was in favour of LAC being as proactive as possible working with Cabinet and public service officials to preserve political archives. Members were curious about the criteria used to offer LAC's deposit service to politicians, and about the relationship between House of Commons records and political archives.

    • 9. Reappraisal Program
      Committee members suggested ways of avoiding potential pitfalls regarding reappraisal. The possibility of relocating records of regional interest with partners in areas outside the National Capital Region was discussed, as well as the use of sampling techniques and research use as a criterion for reappraisal. Members suggested the possibility for LAC to engage with citizens or former public servants to assist in reviewing material. The Committee concluded that, while LAC was not obliged to consult or inform stakeholders of the reappraisal of collections, it should be mindful of the possibility of negative reactions to this activity.

    • 10. Conclusion
      In a final roundtable, the committee members expressed positive feedback about the inaugural meeting and the topics covered. They insisted on the need for a more transparent relationship between LAC, its partners and users.

      Mr. Charbonneau thanked members for their contribution to what were valuable discussions and reaffirmed LAC's commitment to consider the different points of view that were expressed.

Meeting in Ottawa on June 21 and June 22, 2016

  • Agenda, June 21, 2016

    1:15 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.


    1:30 p.m. – 1:50 p.m.

    Opening remarks

    • Normand Charbonneau
      Chief Operating Officer

    1:50 p.m. – 2:50 p.m.

    Follow-ups and updates from the last meeting

    • Dara Price
      Director, Strategic Research and Policy
    • Antonio Lechasseur
      Director, Society and Culture Division
    • Tom Smyth
      Manager, Digital Integration
    • Elizabeth Mongrain
      Manager, Governance and Political Archives
    • Tina Lloyd
      Manager, Reappraisal Project

    2:50 p.m. – 3:05 p.m.

    ​Report on the National, Provincial and Territorial Archivists Conference (NPTAC)

    • Chantal Marin-Comeau
      Director General, Private Archives
    • Marissa Paron
      Senior Project Officer

    3:05 p.m. – 4:05 p.m.

    Relationship with donors of private archives

    • Chantal Marin-Comeau
      Director General, Private Archives
    • Mireille Miniggio
      Director, Science, Governance and Political Archives

    ​4:05 p.m. – 4:20 p.m.


    4:20 p.m. – 5:20 p.m.

    Acquisition of Government of Canada digital records

    • Robert McIntosh
      Director General, Government Records
    • Kathryn Lagrandeur
      Director, Government Recordkeeping Initiatives Division

    ​5:20 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.

    Round table​


  • Agenda, June 22, 2016

    8:45 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.


    9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

    Documenting the experience of soldiers after the Second World War

    • Robert McIntosh
      Director General, Government Records
    • Marcelle Cinq-Mars
      Senior Military Archivist

    10:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.

    Oral History Program at LAC

    • Chantal Marin-Comeau
      Director General, Private Archives
    • Caroline Forcier-Holloway

    10:45 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.


    11:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

    Revision of Legal Deposit of Publications Regulations

    • Pierre Gamache
      Director General, Published Heritage
    • Alison Bullock
      Director, Acquisitions

    ​11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

    ​Closing remarks and next meeting

    • Normand Charbonneau
      Chief Operating Officer

    12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.


    ​1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

    Tour of the Gatineau Preservation Centre

  • Summary of discussions, June 21 and 22, 2016

    Attendees: All Committee members attended the meeting.

    • 1. Opening remarks
      N. Charbonneau welcomed Committee members and thanked them for attending. He said that their comments from the last meeting had been reviewed, and asked Library and Archives Canada (LAC) staff to provide updates on the points from the inaugural meeting of January 13, 2016.

    • 2. Follow-ups and updates from the meeting of january 13, 2016
      • 2.1 Evaluation and Acquisition Policy Framework (D. Price)

        The Evaluation and Acquisition Policy Framework had been approved and was now available on line. D. Price reported that the comments received at the inaugural meeting of January 13, 2016 had been reviewed by the Evaluation and Acquisition Policy Framework Working Group and that most of the Committee's recommendations had been incorporated. In other words, the international aspect of LAC's activities had been added to the overall "Principles" section and the concepts of expertise and standards had been added to the "Expertise-based" sub-section. In addition, the concept of sustainability and resources as key factors in the evaluation of documentary heritage of national significance had been removed. Lastly, the idea that user needs should be considered from the start of the archive evaluation and acquisition process had been added.

      • 2.2 Acquisition Strategy (A. Lechasseur)

        The Library and Archives Canada 2016–2019 Acquisition Strategy had been finalized and was available on LAC's Web site. It covered three years, rather than five. The number of years would be reviewed again in 2018–2019. The Acquisition Strategy specified how LAC, in collaboration with national and international partners, intended to focus its evaluation and acquisition efforts in the areas of published heritage, Canadian government records and the acquisition of private archives. LAC acquisitions were designed to document five major aspects of Canadian life: Canada on the world stage, policy and governance, the economy, society and culture. Specific acquisition targets are Aboriginal peoples, Canada's regional diversity, cultural diversity, Francophone culture, minority voices and gender issues.

        The Committee shared its concerns with regard to federal libraries and, more specifically, federal science libraries. LAC was collaborating with the departments in order to liquidate federal departmental libraries, while the National Research Council was taking care, more specifically, of federal science libraries. The Committee suggested that this item be added to the Acquisition Strategy. The Committee also proposed holding more formal consultations with regard to the six acquisition targets, such as, for example, Francophone culture.

        Follow-up measures:

        • Add a statement to the Acquisition Strategy concerning federal libraries and, more specifically, federal science libraries.
        • Organize formal consultations on the six acquisition targets.
      • 2.3 Web archiving (T. Smyth)

        The official launch of the Government of Canada Web Archive took place in December 2015. The site would eventually include Government of Canada authority records. Recently archived topics included the Fort McMurray fire, the 150th anniversary of Confederation and the Rio Summer Olympic Games. LAC is supporting the Government of Canada's web renewal initiative and is working closely with Treasury Board Secretariat to ensure archiving practices and approaches for the Government of Canada websites.

        The Committee asked about the source of the guidelines for the acquisition of the Web content. For the moment, LAC professionals were responsible for acquiring these archives, based on Web collection theories. The Committee stated that researchers wanted the domain to be archived in its entirety. LAC wanted to work with partners to meet the technological challenges. For example, some Web elements, including dynamic content, Flash content and delivery platforms like YouTube, could not be collected. However, some problems would be solved during Web site development.

        The Committee recommended collecting a representative sample of viewpoints on important subjects, such as the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

      • 2.4 Political and governance archives (É. Mongrain)

        É. Mongrain made a presentation on the acquisition of private political archives following the 2015 election. LAC had acquired 100 terabytes of digital records and over 1,000 boxes of documents from more than half of the Members of Parliament who had left office.

        LAC was working with Treasury Board Secretariat's Chief Information Officer Branch, which was now helping MPs with recordkeeping, and the Privy Council Office to provide training and procedures with regard to information management. As a next step, LAC would provide training for exempt staff in ministers' offices (political staff hired by the ministers), if they wished.

      • 2.5 Program for the reappraisal of government records (T. Lloyd)

        The program for the reappraisal of government records had identified acquisitions of documents which had been transferred to LAC under selective retention, meaning that LAC still intended to reappraise the archival value of these records and dispose of those which had no archival value. Decisions regarding the disposal of documents were made and documented by LAC professionals, who were up-to-date on record reappraisal theories presented in the literature, such as an article in The American Archivist entitled "More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Archival Processing" by Mark Greene and Dennis Meissner.

    • 3. Report on the national, provincial and territorial archivists conference (NPTAC) (C. Marin-Comeau, M. Paron)

      On June 1, 2016, NPTAC published its "Statement of Guiding Principles for Identifying 'Best-Fit' Repositories for Private-Sector Archival Records". All 10 provinces and 3 territories ratified this Statement. The principles were as follows: inclusivity, respect for archival principles, respect for regional importance, respect for donors, respect for partner institutions, respect for external stakeholders, cooperation and accountability. The Committee was concerned about the risk of collections being dispersed across Canada, with researchers having to visit a number of archival centres. The members asked whether mass digitization would be considered. LAC and NPTAC were open to the idea of working together on a digitization strategy.

    • 4. Relationships with private archive donors (C. Marin-Comeau, M. Miniggio)

      LAC provided an overview of its outreach with Private Donors and presented its three year plan and 2016 – 2017 action plan. A focus will be on outreach with under-represented donor communities. Committee questioned how LAC determined who to engage in outreach and whether there will be metrics on outcomes. LAC responded that outreach was based on the acquisition orientation and there are metrics established on measures of success. Committee also asked for an Organisational Chart.

    • 5. Acquiring Government of Canada digital records (R. McIntosh)

      The Committee discussed the challenges of acquiring Government of Canada digital records, including:

      • the exponential growth of digital records;
      • digital infrastructure for acquisition, preservation and access;
      • metadata requirements;
      • email acquisition;
      • digitization and destruction of digitized records;
      • authorization for the disposition of digitized records;

      The Committee wondered whether LAC was acquiring records that the institution should acquire.

    • 6. Documenting the experience of soldiers after the second world war (R. McIntosh, M. Cinq-Mars)

      The Government Records Branch was reviewing its position with regard to military personnel records with Veterans Affairs Canada.

      The Committee discussed the intrinsic value of some military records. The Boer War, the First World War, the Second World War and the Korean War were major conflicts and the military records related to them seem different and more significant. Committee members acknowledged that these records had a symbolic value that other records did not. They were symbolic and meaningful and often evoked an emotional response. They linked people to their ancestors. People would be unhappy if these records were not preserved. If it was decided to destroy these documents, the decision would have to be rigorous and transparent.

      The Committee discussed the digitization of more contemporary military records and the destruction of the originals. Some records, such as those from the First and Second World Wars, had intrinsic value. These records are unique and different from those created during the 1970s. During the two World Wars, the army was made up of individuals from all ethnicities and social classes. This Army was very different from the Canadian Armed Forces, which was a professional army. The Committee asked if LAC had analyzed how these records were consulted by researchers. LAC had statistics from Reference Services, indicating which boxes and records had been consulted.

    • 7. Oral history program at LAC (C. Marin-Comeau, C. Forcier-Holloway)

      LAC presented its Oral History Program. The Committee asked whether restrictions on access to recordings would be established in order to encourage individuals being interviewed to speak frankly. The conditions for access could be negotiated between the interviewee and the archivist. A Committee member remarked that, from the viewpoint of the archivist, it was better to record oral history after the holdings had been processed, since the interview could then focus more on the records in the archival holdings.

      The Committee asked whether LAC intended to work with researchers and conduct interviews with them. LAC said that, in other organizations, archivists regularly conducted oral history interviews. LAC viewed oral history as a documentary and knowledge transfer function, as well an opportunity to recognize the expertise of our colleagues. The oral history program provided them with room to create and innovate. For the moment, oral history interviews would be conducted by LAC experts.

      One of the challenges for LAC was to transcribe and translate oral histories. The Committee stated that a great deal of progress had been made in machine transcription and translation. Perhaps an investment in this technology should be made. Overall, the Committee was very receptive to the oral history program and emphasized how important it was for the interviewer to have a sound knowledge of the interviewee.

      Follow-up measures:

      • LAC to follow-up on available transcription tools.
    • 8. Revision of the legal deposit of publications regulations (P. Gamache, A. Bullock)

      The Committee discussed the challenges related to acquiring and accessing electronic publications. LAC does not, at this time, have the technology to optimize acquisition of and access to these publications, but plan to have it within two years. The Committee discussed various possible approaches for accessing these publications. Ideally, one copy should be obtained for on-site consultation and another for remote consultation. Access for persons with disabilities should also be planned.

      N. Charbonneau asked the Committee whether legal deposit should be exhaustive or selective. In general, Committee members favoured the exhaustive approach. The Committee mentioned that municipal and university libraries have to be selective in their acquisitions, owing to cost. LAC should therefore take a more exhaustive approach, using legal deposit as a tool. Other libraries depended on it. The Committee then discussed compliance by publishers with the requirements of the Act and how LAC could encourage them to deposit their publications. LAC could select and encourage certain editors or work with associations such as ANEL (Association nationale des éditeurs de livres), the Association of Canadian Publishers and the Association of Canadian University Presses, and encourage them to speak with their members. In the Committee's opinion, the collaborative approach would appear to be the most realistic method for dealing with the private sector publishing industry.

    • 9. Closing remarks and next meeting (N. Charbonneau)

      N. Charbonneau thanked Committee members for their participation and comments. He reminded them that the next meeting would be held virtually during the winter.

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