It’s the classic situation.
You’re celebrating a friend’s birthday and you’ve been asked to find the old Year Book and some pictures that will make the event really special.
You go digging… but someone - or something got there first.
Now… imagine if you were… Canada.
“Now, where did we put that border again?
“Who signed this major trade agreement?”
“Does anybody have a copy of that old Canadian history book?”
“Whatever happened to that government report?”
And it’s not just about having the facts and preserving the records: it’s about how they’re used.
You see, facts are understood best in the context of other facts.
Who we were… helps us understand who we are.
Who we are… helps us to imagine who we will become.
And one of the ways for this nation to stay on the right path is to be passionate and diligent about keeping records, day in and day out
That’s where we fit in. We’re Library and Archives Canada…
and as part of a growing network of organizations, are responsible for the careful stewardship of Canada’s information and cultural memory.
Knowing precisely where those books and records are, preserving them, and making them available at any time… is our job.
In just under 150 years as a country, we’ve got a few things we’ve hung onto.
• 20 million books, periodicals newpapers, microfilms, literary texts and government publications
• 3 million maps, plans, and architectural drawings
• 350,000 hours of film
• Portraits, musical items, and about 24 million photographs.
So let’s get back to the Year Book and photos you were trying to find…
Even if the mice hadn’t gotten to them, they might still be faded, discoloured, brittle… and every time you handle them, they’re at risk.
Time… and nature… are the sworn enemies of records.
By its very composition, paper self-destructs.
And even if you create the most exceptional facilities to protect your physical records
(which we have done, by the way, and ours is the best in the world) you still need to plan to adapt.
You need to plan for the future. And the future is digital.
Converting as many of our assets as possible into digital form means they have the best chance of standing the ultimate test… the test of time.
When you convert documents, films, paintings, photographs, music into digital form, they are no longer the prisoner of their original format.
And there’s another huge advantage.
You see, these aren’t just Library and Archives Canada’s assets. They’re yours.
And the ability for everyone to enjoy, to study and to benefit - from scholars preparing class material or doing research
to school children working on a genealogy project to journalists doing background fact checking , from FlinFlon to Mount Fujiyama.
We make that access possible. And that… that’s priceless.
Democratic access to your nation’s records – at the speed of light. Any time of day or night.
That’s the future. That’s our passion. That’s what we do.
That’s the basis of our international reputation -
the reason why other nations come to us to help them manage and preserve their documentary heritage and cultural memory.
And that’s our commitment to Canadians.
Just for the record.