In the words of one Librarian and Archivist of Canada, "Preservation without access is simply hoarding." Amusing, perhaps—but this reflects a fundamental truth: providing access to the collection is one of the critical elements of our mandate. As digital access is increasingly becoming the norm, ironically, visits to memory institutions and use of their physical collections is ever-increasing. Mirroring worldwide trends, Canadian institutions are experiencing increases in visits, both online and in-person. There has been a 34% increase in on-site visitors and a 52% rise in online visitors to heritage institutions between 2011 and 2015 Note4. Concurrently, on-site visits at several newly opened public libraries in Canada has dwarfed anticipated usage—an exciting consideration for LAC and our partner, the Ottawa Public Library, as we plan the construction of an iconic new shared facility set to open in 2024.
LAC has also seen significant increases in online and on-site visits in recent years; programming to support and encourage increased awareness and usage among Canadians is a keystone of our way forward. By targeting new clients with refined services and seeking out new partners, we can use our collective expertise to expand our reach. We will look for innovative ways to connect with remote parts of Canada, to further engage Canadian youth, and to build upon our programming among Canada's Indigenous communities. These targeted initiatives and collaborative partnerships will not only increase usage but will help us discover new parts of Canada's documentary heritage.
LAC nurtures and supports relationships with many communities across Canada. As a national library, we are both a partner and a supporter of Canada's libraries—sharing research, setting standards, delivering cataloguing services, providing forums for networking, and sharing ideas on improving collections and services. As a national archive, we preserve the collective documentary heritage of all Government of Canada institutions and ensure there is public access to government records, a critical requirement for the preservation of any free and democratic society. This requires significant planning and coordination with our fellow government partners to ensure critical documents, web content and other holdings are archived and accessible. As well, our collaborative approach to private (non-government) archives acquisitions requires constant discussions with potential donors—individuals and private organizations—and with other documentary heritage institutions.
Meanwhile, recent programming aimed at enhancing the documentary heritage of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation communities in Canada realized culturally significant additions to the collection.
LAC also plays important roles as both archivist and key collaborator with Canadian publishers, educational institutions, art galleries, and other memory institutions. For example, we have developed memorandums of understanding with nine Canadian universities, and we work collaboratively with many more to enable knowledge-sharing, research, and the development of our next generation of documentary heritage professionals
LAC's mandate states that we must be "a source of enduring knowledge accessible to all." This strategic plan will help us increase the reach and impact of our organization beyond our traditional clients, and support engagement with all Canadians.
The Documentary Heritage Communities Program (DHCP) has provided funding for organizations across the country—from Port Edward, British Columbia to Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia to Iqaluit, Nunavut—to organize, preserve and share their collections. Groups include the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation, the Jewish Historical Society of Southern Alberta, the Women's College Hospital Foundation and the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives. A new pillar of this successful program is the availability of additional support for communities and organizations in remote areas of Canada.
LAC supports numerous programs designed and implemented in collaboration with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation and their communities.
The award-winning Project Naming initiative has digitized over 10,000 photographs of Indigenous subjects, and over 2,500 previously unknown people and places have been identified.
Since 2017, an Indigenous Advisory Circle has provided guidance for new programs that help preserve Indigenous languages and documentary heritage enabling increased access to these critical assets:
We Are Here: Sharing Stories is a program that digitizes LAC records containing First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation related content such as treaties, photographs, and Indigenous-language dictionaries and lexicons.
Listen, Hear Our Voices offers support and services to Indigenous communities in the preservation of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation languages, with a focus on oral recordings.