Library and Archives Canada Strategy for Services to the Public

1. Scope and purpose

In recent years, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has renewed its profile as a national cultural institution committed to serving the public.  As part of this renewal, LAC has engaged in a range of initiatives—both autonomous and collaborative—that have challenged the institution to expand the ways everyone, everywhere can access the Canadian documentary heritage collections held by LAC. As an institution that provides access to a vast array of historical and contemporary publications, government and private records, art, maps, film, audio-visual recordings, digital records, and more, LAC recognizes that its services must be as dynamic, diverse, and information-rich as the resources we hold.

LAC's Strategy for Services to the Public focuses in particular on the public-facing services that enable people to access, understand, and use the information, tools and materials held at LAC. Delivering these services involves a collaborative effort from operational areas across the institution.

LAC's Strategy for Services to the Public reflects the goals of LAC's Three Year Plan; the new approach to LAC's service points in Halifax, Winnipeg, and Vancouver; the expectations and reach of LAC's presence online; and the new opportunities for community engagement, service excellence, and operational efficiencies in the National Capital. With LAC's service model and context evolving on all fronts, it is time to express a coherent, feasible, and ambitious vision for public services going forward.

LAC will implement the Strategy for Services to the Public beginning in 2017, as Canada marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation, and will measure results and renew the Strategy in accordance with the principles and overall requirements expressed in the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat Policy on Service, specifically:

  • Client-centric service: Services are designed and delivered considering client needs and feedback, and are progressively e-enabled.
  • Operational efficiency: Services are designed and delivered in a cost-effective manner, considering opportunities for standardization, integration and re-engineering.
  • Culture of service management excellence: Services are designed and delivered based on strong service management practices.

LAC's Strategy for Services to the Public affirms the best of our current service approach, identifies areas of opportunity and improvement, and describes a way forward to achieve open, collaborative, knowledgeable, and responsive services. The Strategy for Services to the Public identifies a service Mission, Vision, Priorities, Values, Actions, and Outcomes, all as a means of giving a collective identity to the distinctive elements that make up LAC's services.

2. Service mission

To serve Canada: this fundamental mandate is assigned to Library and Archives Canada (LAC) in the preamble of the Library and Archives of Canada Act (2004), which states it is necessary that: "Canada be served by an institution that is a source of enduring knowledge accessible to all, contributing to the cultural, social and economic advancement of Canada as a free and democratic society."

In support of this mandate, LAC's service mission is to ensure our clients enjoy professional, efficient, and productive services, with meaningful access to LAC's collections and information online and at in-person locations across Canada.

3. Service vision

The trusted source for access to Canadian documentary heritage.

4. Who we serve

LAC welcomes everyone with an interest in Canada's documentary heritage. Some of the individuals and communities engaged with LAC include historians, professional researchers, writers, genealogists, publishers, government researchers, non-governmental organizations, educators, students, media professionals, the legal community, and documentary heritage professionals.

LAC clients include first-time researchers, as well as clients with a range of experience and specialized knowledge of library and archival research methods.  While some clients may only require a single interaction with LAC, others may require complex, sustained, and multiple interactions. The expectation for efficient, informed services has never been higher. Consequently, LAC services must support the information needs of all these client groups and levels of interaction, offering positive introductory guidance, clear pathfinding, open lines of communication, and effective, interconnected tools throughout the client's engagement with LAC.

Looking ahead, LAC will work to engage new individual clients and growing client groups, including indigenous communities, students, content creators, artists, coders, and other potential clients in the changing information landscape.

5. Service channels

LAC provides in-person services in Ottawa, Halifax, Winnipeg, and Vancouver, and distance services online, by mail, and by telephone. A full list of LAC's programs and services is available on the LAC website. LAC clients often will access information and collections via more than one service channel; for example, an email query may be followed by an in-person appointment with Reference specialists, and supplemented by online research into LAC's databases and digital collections.

As clients become familiar and experienced with LAC's services and information resources, self-service channels often become the preferred method of efficient and easy access to documentary heritage, whether in its original format on site, or in digital format online. While client autonomy is the ideal, LAC's services will continue to strike a balance between mediated and unmediated service options, based on the needs of the client and the nature of the information they are looking for.

Just as LAC is committed to supporting self-service options online and at our national service points, we also recognize a need to create opportunities for Canadians to encounter documentary heritage directly in their own communities.  Not all Canadians will engage in research activities, or be aware of the collections LAC holds on their behalf. Consequently, LAC actively promotes the collection through a range of media and special projects, including access to content through public events, exhibitions, LAC's blog, podcasts, and social media channels, in an effort to reach a maximum number of clients and make the collection and services known.

Positive interaction with the best-suited service channel is LAC's goal for every client. Looking ahead, LAC will work to expand and adapt its services to take full advantage of opportunities to connect with clients in the evolving information landscape.

6. Priorities

Informed by the priorities identified in LAC's Three Year Plan, the overarching service priorities are:

  1. To serve all LAC clients, as well as engage and grow new client groups.
  2. To draw on the strength of all LAC staff as leaders in archival and library service.
  3. To engage national and international networks in LAC services.
  4. To achieve prominent public visibility for LAC collections and services.

These priorities, together with the Service Values expressed below, provide the framework for the strategic Actions and outcomes that will define the experience and character of LAC's services to the public going forward.

7. Service values

LAC strives to deliver service that is: open, collaborative, knowledgeable, and responsive. These four values inform every stage of planning, managing, and delivering LAC services:

7.1 Open

LAC services can be used by as many people as possible, as free as possible from technological, geographic, and other constraints.

LAC recognizes that openness is demonstrated in LAC services when clients can find, identify, and obtain documentary heritage and other information resources when, where, and how that information is needed.

This also means we communicate openly, sharing information responsibly and keeping clients informed and connected from coast to coast. Most importantly, our services are client-oriented, welcoming, and respectful, both in person and through online and other channels.

Actions and outcomes

  1. Improved initial orientation online in and in person, so that clients have the most efficient access possible to LAC collections.
  2. Pathfinders through the collection tailored to high-interest research areas, so that interactions are streamlined and barriers are lifted.
  3. Implementation of a national service model at prominent locations across Canada, so that clients can access in-person and distance services from coast to coast.

7.2 Collaborative

LAC services are about people engaging with people, supporting creativity, co-creation, and collaboration. LAC seeks to serve the broadest possible number of clients through collaboration with individuals, communities, and stakeholders across Canada.

Just as LAC brings the past and present together, LAC also brings people together through a continuum of discovery and information sharing.

Online and on site, LAC is a productive workspace, where individual clients can discover and share information, and where communities can network, cooperate, and create.

Actions and outcomes

  1. Renewed venues and channels for external feedback on LAC services, so clients and stakeholders have a direct role in helping to evolve and improve the services they need.
  2. Increased collaboration with museums and other memory institutions across Canada, so clients have opportunities to encounter LAC’s documentary heritage directly in their community.
  3. Hands-on digitization, tagging, and transcription tools, so that researchers increasingly can work autonomously on-site and online, as well as support the open sharing of information and digital content online.

7.3 Knowledgeable

LAC services are defined by collective knowledge and professional expertise, both the expertise of our staff and the expertise of our clients.

LAC recognizes that every service interaction is a potential learning experience—both for clients and for LAC staff—contributing to new and shared knowledge among current and future scholars, creators, innovators, and citizens.

LAC recognizes that the best-suited technology and the best-suited digital tools are essential for LAC service interactions, as these also contribute to the broader community of individuals and institutions engaged in accessing and understanding Canada’s documentary heritage.

Actions and outcomes

  1. Establish online and on-site residency programs, so national experts can serve as honorary members of LAC’s public service staff, lending their expertise and insight to LAC clients.
  2. Greater engagement with universities, so LAC services are actively used by students and educators in the study and exchange of knowledge.
  3. Improved e-services, so the knowledge and expertise of clients and LAC staff, as well as digital information and materials, can be exchanged, shared, and easily accessed.

7.4. Responsive

LAC services are defined by an ongoing, responsive exchange with clients, communities, and stakeholders.

LAC recognizes the need for continual service improvement and innovation, informed by measurable standards, accountability, collaboration, and communication.

This means we continue to look for ways to innovate in all the work we do, to turn challenges into opportunities for positive change, and to learn from innovators beyond LAC.

Actions and outcomes

  1. Engage indigenous peoples as a growing client group, so that relevant services and information are available in support of the history, culture, and experience of indigenous peoples in Canada.
  2. Comprehensive review of LAC standards for services to the public, so that service delivery continues to improve through streamlined, renewed, and new standards to improve service delivery.
  3. Establish a service culture throughout the institution, so that all aspects of LAC’s operations reflect a conscientious, consistent, and highly professional approach to service delivery.

8. Foundations of the Strategy for Services to the Public

The Strategy for Services to the Public was developed with input from staff across LAC; feedback from members of the Services Consultation Committee and other stakeholders; and a public survey conducted online by Nanos Research for LAC between February and June 2016.  A number of planning and policy documents also helped to shape the Strategy for Services to the Public, including:

LAC Three-Year Plan 2016-2019
LAC developed this three-year plan as a roadmap for its activities until 2019. The plan sets out what LAC will accomplish in the coming years to meet the expectations of Canadians as effectively and inclusively as possible.

LAC Access Policy Framework
The purpose of this policy framework is to articulate LAC's principles for attaining its access mandate, thereby providing Canadians with access to its holdings when, where and how they want it.

LAC Acquisition Strategy 2016-2019
The Acquisition Strategy describes how LAC intends to focus its evaluation and acquisition efforts over the coming three years in the areas of published heritage, Canadian government records, and the acquisition of private archives, so as to document the evolution of modern Canadian society.

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat Policy on Service
The objective of this policy is to establish a strategic and coherent approach to the design and delivery of Government of Canada external and internal enterprise services that is client-centric, realizes operational efficiencies and promotes a culture of service management excellence.

Canadian National Heritage Digitization Strategy
The Canadian National Heritage Digitization Strategy will cover published and unpublished analogue materials of national, regional and local significance. The objective of the strategy is to focus the efforts of memory institutions in the area of digitization for discovery, access, and preservation.

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