Acquisitions Advisory Committee

Acquisitions Advisory Committee

Mandate

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.

Members

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 two ex-officio members: the directors general responsible for Archives and Published Heritage. The committee is chaired by LAC's Chief Operating Officer.

  • Brenda Macdougall: University of Ottawa
  • Catherine Arseneau: Beaton Institute
  • Donald W. McLeod: University of Toronto
  • Éveline Favretti et Karine Vachon: Association nationale des éditeurs de livres
  • Ian Milligan: University of Waterloo
  • Jarvis Brownlie: University of Manitoba
  • Lara Wilson: University of Victoria
  • Marianne Scott: Friends of Library and Archives Canada
  • Michel Lalonde: University of Ottawa
  • Michel Lessard: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  • Victoria Dickenson: Volunteer

Ex-officio

  • Monica Fuijkschot: Bibliothèque et Archives Canada
  • Robert McIntosh: Library and Archives Canada

Chairperson

  • Normand Charbonneau: Library and Archives Canada

Meetings

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.

    Introduction

    • 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.

    Break

    ​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.

    Lunch​

    ​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.

    Break

    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.

    Welcome

    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.

    ​Break

    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​

    Everyone

  • Agenda, June 22, 2016

    8:45 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

    Welcome

    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
      Archivist

    10:45 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

    ​Break

    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.

    Lunch

    ​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 gc.ca 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.

Meeting in Ottawa on May 2 and May 3, 2017

  • Agenda for May 2, 2017

    1:00 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.

    Welcome and Introduction

    • Normand Charbonneau
      Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief Operating Officer

    1:15 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

    Update - Indigenous Projects

    • Normand Charbonneau
      Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief Operating Officer

    2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

    ​LAC's Public Services Strategy

    • Johanna Smith
      Director General, Public Services Branch

    3:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.

    Break

    ​3:15 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.

    ​DigiLab Visit

    • Johanna Smith
      Director General, Public Services Branch

    3:45 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

    Collections Development Policy

    • Pierre Gamache
      Director General, Published Heritage Branch
    • Alison Bullock
      Director, Acquisition Division
  • Agenda for May 3, 2017

    8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

    Right to be Forgotten and Archival Practice at LAC

    • Sandy Ramos
      Director, Government Archives
    • Jason Bennett
      Senior Archivist, Government Records Branch
    • Sarah Hurford
      Senior Archivist, Government Records Branch

    9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

    Description and Access to Private Archives

    • Chantal Marin-Comeau
      Director General, Private Archives Branch
    • Mireille Miniggio
      Director, Science, Governance and Political Archives Division
    • Louise Beauregard
      Manager, Science, Environment and Economy Archives

    10:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.

    Break

    10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

    ​Developing a Policy Regarding Records at Risk

    • Katherine Comber
      Senior Archivist, Government Records Branch

    11:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

    Closing Remarks

    • Normand Charbonneau
      Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief Operating Officer
  • Summary of Discussions, May 2 and 3, 2017

    Present:

    • Catherine Arseneau: Beaton Institute
    • Michèle Dagenais: Université de Montréal (in attendance May 2 only)
    • Victoria Dickenson: Volunteer
    • Robin Jarvis Brownlie: University of Manitoba
    • Michel Lessard: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (in attendance May 3 only)
    • Don McLeod: University of Toronto
    • Ian Milligan: University of Waterloo
    • Marianne Scott: Friends of Library and Archives Canada

    Ex-Officio Members

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

    Chair

    • Normand Charbonneau: Library and Archives Canada

    Guests of Library and Archives Canada

    May 2

    • Alison Bullock
    • Johanna Smith

    May 3

    • Louise Beauregard
    • Jason Bennett
    • Katherine Comber
    • Sarah Hurford
    • Mireille Miniggio
    • Sandy Ramos

    Absent:

    • Gwen Bird: Simon Fraser University
    • Tim Cook: Canadian War Museum
    • Michel Lalonde: University of Ottawa
    • 1. Welcome (N. Charbonneau)
      N. Charbonneau welcomed members of the committee and thanked them for their participation. He then proceeded with an update on Indigenous projects.

    • 2. Update on Indigenous Projects (N. Charbonneau, C. Marin-Comeau, J. Smith)

      Library and Archives Canada (LAC) received $14.9 million in funding (in the 2017 federal budget) toward the following projects over a three-year period:

      • Digitization and digital dissemination of material in the LAC's collection related to Indigenous peoples;
      • Long-term preservation and promotion of oral histories from the LAC's collection and those of partners;
      • Work experience opportunities for Indigenous peoples.

      With respect to oral histories, content limitations have yet to be defined. LAC is seeking to work with communities and have them participate in the preservation and dissemination of material. The organization aims to work with communities and band councils to strike a balance between the three main groups: First Nations, Inuit and Métis. Key factors to be considered in the selection of projects are the relationships developed with communities and the resources that are available. The committee recommends working with material that is already available rather than funding new projects.

      The digitization and digital access project will be focused on LAC collections containing material related to First Nations, Inuit and Métis. The goal of the project is to provide free and unrestricted online access to digitized material. One committee member noted that infrastructure and identifying the best communication channels were among the challenges posed by the project. At the moment, Facebook appears to be the best option. Another challenge is finding a translation tool. Crowdsourcing and labeling might help correct language-related errors. Information validation processes are currently being examined. Members discussed the digitization of newspapers on microfilm and copyright. LAC is thinking about obtaining newspaper rights.

      Members then discussed work experience opportunities for Indigenous youth. These opportunities would provide LAC with new perspectives and new avenues for networking in communities, while enabling Indigenous youth to acquire experience in the fields of information science. They would be able to work either on LAC premises or in their community, on the aforementioned projects (oral histories, digitization, access) or on their own projects. One of the goals is to increase library and archival science capacity in Indigenous communities. They may also serve as an inspiration for future projects.

    • 3. Public Services Strategy (J. Smith)

      LAC's Public Services Strategy emphasizes the best aspects of our current service approach, identifies areas of opportunity and improvement, and describes a way forward to achieve open, collaborative, knowledgeable, and responsive services to the public. One member wanted to know how to reach a wider public. The more access LAC provides to its collections and the more material it makes available, the more public demand will increase. LAC is also seeking to provide services and tools that are tailored to different segments of its clientele. Another member asked how we would identify which tailored tools should be developed. LAC needs to communicate more with its clients, who are often experts in their fields, follow the development of their research models (possible with OCLC) and generate statistics to identify the specific fields and subjects that are most in demand.

      Members next discussed the project with respect to sharing a building with the Ottawa Public Library. This project may be an opportunity to digitize all archival finding aids. Currently, all research guides and thematic databases are already available on LAC's website. One of the members of the committee suggested that LAC obtain digitized material through certain organizations such as law firms.

      Lastly, one member suggested extending opening hours on Saturdays, as many clients travel to Ottawa on weekends. LAC is trying to balance the needs of clients and the resources that are available.

    • 4. DigiLab Visit (J. Smith)

      Committee members toured the DigiLab. This infrastructure allows clients to digitize and contextualize LAC collections of interest to their work, studies, and communities. DigiLab provides the equipment, training and access to collections. Clients must provide an overview of their project, including a detailed description of LAC material to be digitized, scans of the material, as well as descriptions, metadata and labeling of digitized records.

      During the visit, a client digitized records and discussed her project and experience at DigiLab with committee members.

    • 5. Collections Development Policy for Published Heritage (A. Bullock)

      Following a review of the Legal Deposit Regulations and identification of shortcomings in the policy for acquiring publications, LAC is beginning to develop a collections development policy for published heritage.

      Members discussed the acquisition of foreign Canadiana publications. One member pointed out that it was important to have material that deals with international realities (e.g.: First Nations in Canada and the United States). Another member suggested acquiring the same material that is available in Canadian Studies Centres abroad. With respect to reference material, one of the members noted that this type of material is easily accessible elsewhere and that LAC would not need to acquire much. Lastly, the committee believes that if editors received clearer instructions, there would be greater compliance with the Legal Deposit Regulations.

      The committee then discussed newspapers. Responsibility for local newspapers should be decentralized and should rest with local communities. One of the priorities of the National Heritage Digitization Strategy is the digitization of newspapers. LAC has been digitizing newspapers dating from before 1929 and the provinces have their own digitization strategies as well. However, copyright prevents many newspapers from being digitized and made accessible online.

      Members subsequently discussed the importance of preserving content published on the Web for the development of a national collection. Technological issues must be taken into account in order to strike a balance in the acquisition of these resources. It is important to acquire them even if they will not be immediately accessible. LAC tries to be thorough and complete in its acquisitions, though it must also keep in mind the resources that are available.

      Lastly, the members discussed the pros and cons of collaborating on the acquisition of newspapers.

    • 6. The Right to be Forgotten and Archival Practice at LAC (J. Bennett, S. Hurford)

      The Right to be Forgotten (RTBF) has been the subject of much legal discussion in numerous countries. In Canada, exchanges on this topic are relatively new and the application of this right has yet to be properly defined. At LAC, questions that were raised through the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Independent Assessment Process (IAP) have led to reflections on the Right to be Forgotten and on the right to remember, to be remembered. Those in favour of the right to remember cited the importance of not minimizing or denying what happened in the past and of keeping records so as to ensure that the government is held accountable for its actions. Those advocating for the Right to be Forgotten maintained that making such information public leads to even stronger feelings of victimization.

      One of the members indicated that the IAP documents were quite detailed. Archiving these and making them accessible would effectively risk perpetuating traumatic experiences. There are many other sources of information that document these abuses, and such testimonies do not reveal anything new. Another member noted that many of the documents that accidentally survived provide much valuable information. These act as a memory so that such abuses never happen again. They may also have a role in reconciliation. In 200 years, the emotional bond with these incidents will be less intense. However, the role of archivists is also to protect citizens' privacy, especially when those citizens are not consulted when decisions relating to the availability of records are made. Although the government considers such records to be its property and LAC, as a national institution, is hesitant to part with these, archivists, as human beings, cannot turn a blind eye to the traumatic experiences that affected families would relive.

      In addition, one of the members pointed out that one must not forget that Indigenous peoples have their own healing rituals. For example, cultural objects must be repatriated so that they can be [translation] "returned to the earth." Thus, it is important that their wishes be respected with regard to information shared through the IAP. Another member asked whether it would be possible to simply erase information upon request. However, delays caused by such changes pose a problem. For now, the court provides survivors with a 15-year timeframe in which to determine whether the records are to be archived or destroyed.

      Due to the variety of records and situations, there do not appear to be any clear answers to these questions at the moment. Memory institutions need to find a balance between protecting the privacy of citizens and the collective right to remember. One thing is certain, and that is that from now on, instructions with respect to accessing records will need to be determined in advance. The manner in which the Crown handles Right to be Forgotten requests will have an impact on the quality of its relationships with Indigenous peoples. Lastly, when the "Privacy Act" is renewed, this friction between the disclosure and protection of information will need to be addressed.

    • 7. Description and Access to Private Archives (M. Miniggio, L. Beauregard)

      One of the main objectives of LAC is to process archival records more rapidly so as to make them more accessible to users. In 2016 - 2017, the Private Archives Branch released two new guidelines: the "Guideline on the Classification and Description of Private Archives" and the "Guideline for the Establishment of Access Restrictions on Private Archival Records". The three main factors behind the decision to develop these guidelines are the following: the volume of private archives acquired, the need to provide open and quick access to these acquisitions, and the need to put the expertise of archivists to better use.

      During negotiations on the acquisition of an archival fonds, LAC is now requesting that donors provide a list of documents. Moreover, clearer instructions in relation to the description of records allow these to be processed more rapidly.

      One of the members mentioned the example of DigiLab and suggested that minimal descriptions could be improved through crowdsourcing. LAC could call upon volunteers who have experience in description or who have a knowledge of fonds (members of an individual's family, company employees, etc.)

      Another member noted that digitization requires a more detailed description to locate records. The work involved in the description of digitized records is very time-consuming. One member suggested that restrictions not be imposed on records that are already accessible electronically. Blogs produced by archivists might also be used to improve descriptions.

      LAC is experiencing a tension between its ability to acquire the records that correspond to its mandate and its resources to describe those records. A balance needs to be struck with respect to the level of description (minimum, medium, or enhanced level). LAC must ensure that the budget spent on description (millions of dollars each year) translates into faster and improved access to records.

      Lastly, LAC is also seeking to improve its ability to plan its acquisitions and be more proactive, i.e. approaching donors and other institutions that may be interested in a fonds.

    • 8. Developing a Policy Regarding Records at Risk (K. Comber)

      Subsection 13(3) of the "Library and Archives of Canada Act" (2004) sets out that "[i]f government records referred to in subsection (1) are, in the opinion of the Librarian and Archivist, at risk of serious damage or destruction, the Librarian and Archivist may require their transfer in the manner and at the time that the Librarian and Archivist specifies". LAC has never invoked subsection 13(3) and will formalize its approach with a policy this year.

      Members discussed the application of a similar clause by other jurisdictions. In Quebec, this clause has never been used. In France, it is used frequently, and in the United States, criminal penalties are imposed if records are destroyed. LAC would like to develop a policy instrument before having to use this clause. If a criminal proceeding were to be launched in Canada, the Attorney General would be responsible.

      The members discussed the transfer of records when a department or agency is privatized. There should be a policy tool to preserve records or a provision in privatisation legislation allowing for the transfer of records to LAC prior to privatization, while those records are still the property of the Crown. In such circumstances, LAC should also be proactive and try to contact the department or agency that is being privatized.

      With respect to the protection of electronic records, the most important thing is to monitor the stability of formats. Members asked how to protect confidential electronic government records. These records are transferred to other media or to servers that are not connected to the Internet.

      Members recommended that LAC visit departments to verify the storage conditions of records. The main way in which LAC can help departments protect their records is to provide advice. An excellent disposition program is the best tool for protecting records.

    • 9. Closing remarks (N. Charbonneau)

      N. Charbonneau thanked members of the committee for their participation and insightful discussions. He also thanked those who gave presentations. He noted that briefing documents with questions for discussion are a good way to encourage and guide discussions. He reminded those in attendance that the next meeting would be held in the fall.

Meetings on October 17 and 18, 2017, in Ottawa

  • Agenda, October 17, 2017

    1:00 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.

    Welcome and introduction

    • Normand Charbonneau
      Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief Operating Officer

    1:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.

    Update on public participation in developing the policy on collection development and on-site consultations

    • Alison Bullock
      Director, Acquisition
    • Dara Price
      Director, Strategic Research and Policy

    Report on the status of acquisitions in the Published Heritage Branch (a new partnership strategy with publishers)

    • Alison Bullock
      Director, Acquisition

    2:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.

    ​No fixed address: Canada Post’s philatelic collection and the enigma of its dual residences

    • Geneviève Morin
      Senior Archivist, Art and Philately, Government Archives Division

    3:15 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

    Break

    ​3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

    Indigenous communities and private archives

    • Marcel Barriault
      Manager, Social Life and Indigenous Communities, Social Life and Culture Private Archives Division
  • Agenda, October 18, 2017

    8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

    Private archives acquisition strategy: Observations on an essential tool

    • Mireille Miniggio
      Director, Science and Governance Private Archives Division
    • Marcel Barriault
      Manager, Social Life and Indigenous Communities, Social Life and Culture Private Archives Division

    9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

    Archives and big data: What is the role of big data in documentary heritage?

    • Émilie Létourneau
      Senior Archivist, Disposition Tools, Aboriginal and Social Affairs, Government Archives Division
    • Renaud Séguin
      Senior Archivist, Security, Military, International and Transportation, Government Archives Division

    10:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.

    ​Break

    10:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

    Update on the Last Copies Initiative

    • Monica Fuijkschot
      Director General, Published Heritage Branch

    ​11:15 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

    Closing remarks

    • Normand Charbonneau
      Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief Operating Officer
  • Summary of discussions, October 17 and 18, 2017

    Attendees:

    • Catherine Arseneau, Beaton Institute
    • Michèle Dagenais, Université de Montréal (October 17 only)
    • Victoria Dickenson, volunteer
    • Jarvis Brownlie, University of Manitoba
    • Michel Lalonde, University of Ottawa
    • Michel Lessard, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    • Don McLeod, University of Toronto
    • Ian Milligan, University of Waterloo
    • Marianne Scott, Friends of Library and Archives Canada

    Ex-officio members:

    • Monica Fuijkschot, Library and Archives Canada
    • Mireille Miniggio (for Robert McIntosh), Library and Archives Canada

    Chair:

    • Normand Charbonneau, Library and Archives Canada

    Library and Archives Canada invitees:

    October 17

    • Alison Bullock
    • Dara Price
    • Geneviève Morin
    • Marcel Barriault

    October 18

    • Marcel Barriault
    • Émilie Létourneau
    • Renaud Séguin

    Regrets:

    • Gwen Bird, Simon Fraser University
    • Tim Cook, Canadian War Museum

     

    • 1. Welcome and introduction (N. Charbonneau)

      Normand Charbonneau welcomed the committee members and noted that this was their fourth meeting. As stated in the committee’s terms of reference, each member has a two-year term that may be renewed once. Gwen Bird had to resign because she was too busy.

      Mr. Charbonneau asked whether there were any items to add to the agenda. A member suggested discussing the Fontaine decision and the right to be forgotten. Another member asked for more details on the decision by Library and Archives Canada (LAC) to no longer offer the Cataloguing in Publication (CIP) service for self-published publications.

    • 2. Update on public participation in developing the policy on collection development and on-site consultations (A. Bullock, D. Price)

      The policy on collection development will provide formal guidelines for the following subjects:

      • gap analysis and monitoring framework for published materials (for example, legal deposit compliance and gaps in the collection);
      • communicating with and raising awareness among publishers and authors; and
      • web harvesting deployment plan.

      These will lead to systematic approaches for the different acquisition mechanisms, namely legal deposit, purchases and donations, and web acquisitions.

      LAC seeks to consult with external stakeholders and promote public participation in the development of the policy and its instruments. The next steps are as follows:

      • Review and incorporate input from key internal stakeholders.
      • Obtain the approval of the management board.
      • Hold external consultations with stakeholders, and conduct the pilot project on public participation to develop lower-level instruments.

      Discussion:

      A committee member asked whether LAC receives born-digital documents through legal deposit. LAC estimates that it receives approximately 6% of these documents. The main challenge has to do with systems. Replacing the acquisition module would make it possible to manage the acquisition of this type of material more effectively. The agreement between LAC and BANQ is the exception to the situation nationally. BANQ sends LAC the digital publications and metadata that it receives from the main content aggregator in Quebec. The size of the Quebec market is such that there is only one major aggregator. This is not the case for Canada as a whole. The committee also discussed the importance of combining in-depth subject-matter knowledge and technical expertise in the acquisition of digital documents.

      A committee member went on to ask how LAC acquires publications from self-publishers and micro-publishers. LAC performs monitoring using ISBNs and informs publishers about legal deposit. As well, LAC representatives attend a few self-publishing and micro-publishing trade shows each year. LAC also contacts Canadian Heritage grant recipients and encourages them to submit their publications. Similar contact lists are created in other departments’ programs, and LAC hopes to use these lists to contact publishers.

      A committee member stated that consultation with partners and the public will be especially helpful in identifying key themes or topics that will appear in the collection development policy. Some topics will be enduring, while others will not. The more short-lived topics could be reviewed every four or five years (to be determined) to give flexibility to the collection development policy. Environmental monitoring and external consultations will keep LAC abreast of emerging trends and issues.

      Lastly, members discussed the difficulty of acquiring and preserving websites, self-published publications, and newspapers in electronic format, because they frequently change by nature.

    • 3. Report on the status of acquisitions in the Published Heritage Branch (a new partnership strategy with publishers) (A. Bullock)

      LAC recognizes that legal deposit is an essential tool in the development of a comprehensive national published collection and that the voluntary participation of publishers in the program is essential to its success. To foster this participation, LAC needs to better manage its relationships with publishers. That is why a new publisher partnership strategy will be implemented. The intended outcomes of this strategy are increased publisher awareness of LAC services, greater compliance with the legal deposit program, and a more responsive service offering by LAC to Canadian publishers (cyclical results). The main elements of the strategy are as follows:

      • Carry out an annual awareness plan.
      • Develop and implement business intelligence products and processes.
      • Improve services to publishers.
      • Monitor the publishing industry systematically and improve performance reporting.
      • Build staff capacity to develop relationships with publishers.

      Discussion:

      A member suggested that LAC partner with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO). Protected works could be required to be deposited with LAC automatically. As is the case with Telefilm Canada, publications funded by the Canada Council for the Arts and Canadian Heritage should also be required to be deposited with LAC.

      One member suggested that to encourage legal deposit, LAC provide data of interest to publishers and the cultural community in exchange for their compliance with the legal deposit program. This could include the number of books published in a particular Canadian city in a given year. Authors and publishers should also be reminded that legal deposit serves to preserve backup copies of their works for several generations.

      Members then discussed the challenges of preserving digital material. Currently, LAC does not have the infrastructure to store all of Canada’s digital heritage because it relies on Shared Services Canada, which does not yet recognize LAC as the institution responsible for preserving the heritage and information of the Government of Canada.

      Finally, members discussed LAC’s decision to end the Cataloguing in Publication (CIP) program for self-published publications. A member questioned this decision, noting that the number of this type of publications is increasing. LAC representatives stated that this service was originally established to support libraries in their acquisition process. However, libraries collect only 5% of the material that is self-published, and they do not use the CIP to make their selections. Furthermore, LAC keeps only a small percentage of the self-published material that it receives, since most of it does not meet LAC’s main selection criteria. But given the increasing number of self-published publications and the fact that some cover the country’s social history, LAC should review its acquisition mechanisms for this type of publication and perhaps consider creating a section devoted to self-published material.

      ACTION ITEMS:

      • Contact the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, the Canada Council for the Arts and Canadian Heritage to see whether protected or subsidized works may be required to be deposited with LAC.
      • LAC needs to review its acquisition mechanisms for self-published publications and perhaps consider creating a section devoted to self-published material.

    • 4. No fixed address: Canada Post’s philatelic collection and the enigma of its dual residences (G. Morin)

      When the National Postal Museum closed in 1988, LAC and the Canadian Museum of History (CMH) became the joint custodians of Canada Post’s philatelic collection. As stipulated in the related tripartite memorandum of understanding, responsibilities reflect the mandate of each institution: the CMH receives the artifacts, and LAC keeps the philatelic and research archives and resources. The agreement raises a number of issues and complicates access to resources for researchers, who have to visit two institutions. As well, there is considerable duplication between the LAC and the CMH collections as a result of the independent evolution of each institution’s acquisition practices.

      The 2018 review and update of Canada Post’s disposition authorization provides an opportunity to review the current division of responsibilities between LAC and the CMH and to assess whether this division is still the best way to meet the needs of Canadians and Canadian philately.

      Discussion:

      The arguments in favour of the CMH are as follows:

      • LAC is part of a government department and cannot make a profit from the philatelic collection. By contrast, the CMH is an agency and can sell prints of stamps.
      • The CMH’s mandate changes and evolves more than LAC’s. The CMH is now acquiring archives and photographs.

      The arguments in favour of the LAC are as follows:

      • Regarding museum components, LAC is just as capable as the CMH of exhibiting them.
      • Public interest in philately has declined significantly. The collection attracts specialized researchers almost exclusively. Moreover, with the rise of digital technology, the future of stamps is uncertain.
      • In the future, the CMH may decide to no longer keep this collection and to sell it, unless an agreement is signed with LAC to protect Canada Post’s archives.

      The arguments in favour of both institutions are as follows:

      • Both LAC and the CMH have lost their expertise in philately; however, both institutions could develop that expertise again.
      • The collection could remain a shared responsibility. Regarding the philatelic collection, LAC could simply retain the decisions of the Stamp Advisory Committee, and the remaining documentation of the stamp issue process could be transferred to the CMH.

      Ultimately, the decision depends largely on whether financial resources are available.

    • 5. Indigenous communities and private archives (M. Barriault)

      Since its inception, the National Archives has acquired private archives relating to Indigenous peoples in Canada. In 2007, LAC developed a collaborative acquisition strategy for these documents. From 2007 to 2015, LAC contributed to the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) and is currently working on responding to the TRC’s Call to Action No. 69. LAC’s aim is to change its approach to the documentary heritage of Indigenous peoples, and it would like them to manage the acquisition and conservation of their heritage. LAC plans to support Indigenous peoples by providing advisory assistance or acting as an alternate should they, or provinces and territories, be unable to acquire or preserve the records. This approach should be extended to cultural communities, which are under-represented in archival services in Canada. If these communities are unable to take up responsibility for their documentary heritage, LAC would approach national organizations or associations in these communities in Canada.

      Discussion:

      A committee member asked how LAC would approach and consult the organizations representing Indigenous communities. A representative from LAC explained that an Indigenous advisory committee will soon be created. The committee will be composed of First Nations, Inuit and Métis representatives. Reconciliation efforts must be accompanied by decolonization efforts, that is, LAC representatives must not impose ways of doing things. They must listen and discuss, and they may suggest options, if needed. The most important thing will be to build relationships with members of the Indigenous Advisory Circle, and this process will take time. If LAC acquires and processes their records, then Indigenous concepts and customs will be applied. LAC also plans to hire seven members from Indigenous communities. Ideally, these individuals will work in information science within or near their communities.

      Another committee member asked whether LAC coordinates the acquisition and/or digitization of Indigenous heritage with other archival centres in Canada, such as provincial archives. A representative from LAC indicated that this topic is included in the collaborative acquisition strategy for Indigenous records. In addition, the Steering Committee on Canada’s Archives includes a Response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report Task Force, whose mandate is to respond directly to the TRC’s Call to Action No. 70 and ensure that archival centres in Canada work together to better conserve and disseminate the cultural heritage of Canada’s Indigenous population.

      One member pointed out that many communities have archival material that needs urgent attention and asked whether LAC will be able to work with these communities on site. LAC is trying to reach an agreement with Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) to this effect. LAC is also working on the “Hear Our Voices” project, which will focus on preserving oral histories, which are also at risk.

      Lastly, a LAC representative indicated that the heritage of cultural communities in Canada is significantly under-represented in Canada’s archival centres. LAC plans to work more with these communities.

      As agreed at the beginning of the discussions, the members then considered the Fontaine decision and the right to be forgotten. The decision of the Supreme Court of Canada runs counter to the position of LAC and INAC. The decision supports that of the Ontario Court of Appeal, which ordered the destruction of records related to the Independent Assessment Process (IAP) and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) after a 15-year retention period. However, it is clear that this is a one-time decision that applies only to this particular set of documents. The decision does not apply to all government records and does not affect the statutory powers of the Librarian and Archivist of Canada.

      In accordance with the Supreme Court’s order, residential school survivors will also have the option of agreeing to have their documents preserved at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in Winnipeg. The chief adjudicator of the IAP will implement a notification program to ensure that survivors are aware of their options. The default option is to have the documents destroyed.

      According to one committee member, the Supreme Court’s decision is the right one. The history of residential schools is documented in many places and will not be forgotten. A large number of documents have already been digitized, and more are being digitized, and these documents are online, available to all.

    • 6. Private archives acquisition strategy: Observations on an essential tool (M. Miniggio, M. Barriault)

      The private archives acquisition strategy is an essential tool for archivists and will be revised in the next six months. The purpose of the discussion is insight and guidance on some aspects of the strategy that need improvement. The following questions were put to the committee:

      • Do archivists need to be more proactive in their acquisition methods (for example, visiting communities)? Do they need to be visionary about the areas or subjects of archives to be acquired? Is that their role? If so, to what extent?
      • Archivists at LAC and other archival institutions in Canada need more communication about their respective acquisitions. What are the best ways to do this? Does a systematic information-sharing mechanism need to be put in place?

      Discussion:

      A committee member noted that LAC’s collection on minorities in Canada is not well developed and asked how best to approach their leaders and activists, for example in the Sikh or Asian communities. LAC has already undertaken research in some communities. Contacting groups that do not have a national institution or association is more difficult. Regarding Syrian refugees, who have very few documents, an oral history project might be a worthwhile option.

      An important point to note is that LAC cannot interfere with provincial and territorial jurisdictions. LAC would be wise to “decolonize” its relations with lower levels of government rather than to treat them as subordinate.

      In addition, a member said that acquisition processes should be more transparent; for example, there should be more information about how to donate, whom to contact and what to expect during the process. This is not easy to find on LAC’s website. If it were, potential donors would have an easier time.

      A few years ago, LAC studied the whole-of-society approach (WoSA). This approach is not useful at the lower levels of description (at the file level) but may be of interest at the higher levels of holdings and collections. In the current context, this approach and its analytical tools may have useful practical applications. LAC is committed to reviewing this approach and its possible applications.

      In addition, members discussed the importance for LAC of consulting with academics in sociology and political science and attending social science conferences to identify sociological trends. LAC may also contact the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada or simply consult the Canada Research Chairs list of research topics for a better idea of current trends and concerns. However, a member pointed out that nowadays young researchers frequently work in international networks, and their research is harder to find.

      Finally, committee members suggested that LAC offer its services to universities for the management and archiving of research data. The aim is not to archive the projects of individual researchers but to offer leadership to university archives and libraries.

      ACTION ITEMS:

      • Whole-of-society approach (WoSA): LAC may review this approach and its possible applications.

    • 7. Archives and big data: What is the role of big data in documentary heritage? (É. Létourneau, R. Séguin)

      Over the past decade, technological advances have profoundly transformed how information is created, used and exchanged in Canadian society. New technologies now make it possible to capture, process and exploit huge masses of information. Big data, which include scientific, personal and geospatial data, are among the most coveted resources nowadays. But what is their role in documentary heritage? What is the role of memory institutions with respect to big data? This presentation is a reflection on the relationship between archives and big data, in terms of their assessment, acquisition, preservation and dissemination at LAC. The basic principles of macro-appraisal are presented to show their current relevance in the required selection process for information to be preserved at LAC.

      Discussion:

      Within government, big data are found mostly in the form of databases, but they are also found in the form of data collections, such as personal data. Aggregating and linking these data pose many challenges, such as protecting personal information (for example, social insurance, passport and pension numbers).

      Members questioned LAC’s role with respect to these data. The departments that produce them have technical expertise and need the data for their activities. However, should the data be at risk of being lost, LAC should play a critical role by determining whether the data should be preserved for future generations.

      Preserving these data is also a challenge for LAC, since Shared Services Canada does not provide the necessary storage space. With respect to access, some of these data are available on the Government of Canada’s open data portal, and some are available on LAC’s website.

      Members discussed the importance of documenting the context in which big data are created (for example, when and how), so that they can be interpreted correctly. These data are not neutral. The Government of Canada’s open data portal does not provide any context. A collaborative website similar to Wikipedia could be created to provide contextual information. A member noted that the role of archivists is to contextualize these data and then forward them to researchers so the data can be used again. However, the exchange of these data is complex because of ownership issues.

    • 8. Update on the Last Copies Initiative (M. Fuijkschot)

      The Last Copies Initiative is a national initiative within the library community to ensure the long-term accessibility and rationalization of print publications. This initiative aims to define the responsibility for last copies and to synchronize efforts among institutions and with consortia and associations. The main factors that led to the development of this initiative are decreasing library storage space, reduced budgets, increasing emphasis on digitization as an access mechanism, and a desire to reduce redundancy across library systems and consortia.

      The following principles, endorsed by LAC, serve as the basis for the development of a Canada-wide collaborative network for last copy designation. According to these principles, a participating library will do the following:

      1. Declare its willingness to keep the last copy of a document that is part of documentary heritage.
      2. Inform other participating institutions about the documentary heritage that it holds in the form of last copies.
      3. Commit to keeping a last copy within an appropriate conservation framework.
      4. Commit to ensuring reasonable access to last copies.
      5. Agree not to dispose of last copies without providing reasonable notice to the other participating institutions.
      6. Undertake, in the event that it disposes of a last copy, to arrange for that copy to be transferred to another institution.

      Discussion:

      First, a member stated that last copies are mostly non-Canadian material. Members then discussed the possibility of adding a principle to those above that would involve digitizing last copies. However, adding principles is done in consultation with the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL). Members noted that, despite digitization, access to original documents is very important for researchers.

      LAC wondered how its organization could coordinate the initiative, while acknowledging the work that has been done so far. The GreenGlass web application in OCLC could provide a tool for analyzing and assessing collections in various Canadian libraries.

      Members indicated that some libraries may decide to sell or dispose of their rare books, either for financial reasons or because they do not know that they have the last copies. It would be useful to establish mechanisms to prevent libraries from making such decisions, for instance by inserting official notices with specific instructions in the last copies. As well, the Canadian Conservation Institute may provide preservation standards, for libraries that have little experience in this area.

      A member asked whether there was a similar initiative for print newspapers. LAC has a newspaper strategy. As well, the Canadian National Heritage Digitization Strategy (NHDS), which involves a number of institutions, was created in 2016. One of the primary purposes of the NHDS is to digitize Canadian newspapers. Ideally, digitization should be done using the original newspapers. Finally, one member indicated that databases such as Paper of Records should not be commercial products accessible by subscription only, but rather open access products.

    • 9. Closing remarks (N. Charbonneau)

      Marianne Scott mentioned that the Quebec Family History Society is looking to sell an old ledger (Ledger Book B) of the Hudson’s Bay Company (Montréal region). The offer reached the United States, but the work is Canadiana and should not leave the country. A team from LAC assessed the dollar value of the work, which is much lower than the original estimate. Ideally, either the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives in Winnipeg or McGill University would acquire the item.

      Victoria Dickenson thanks LAC, and specifically Karen Linauskas and her team, for their assistance in searching for images for The Good Lands: Canada Through the Eyes of Artists.

      Lastly, Normand Charbonneau thanked the committee members for attending. He wished them a safe journey home and reminded them that the next meeting would be held in spring 2018.

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