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