Library and Archives Canada Audiovisual Migration Strategy

April 2019

Table of contents


This strategy applies only to the migration of Library and Archives Canada's audiovisual collection. The term audiovisual is used here in its widest sense and includes audio recordings, video recordings and motion picture films.

This strategy supersedes:

  • Library and Archives Canada Audiovisual Migration Strategy (2009)
  • Library and Archives Canada Motion Picture Film Digitization Strategy (2012)


The audiovisual collection of Library and Archives Canada (LAC) consists of content created by the music, film, radio and television industries; government; academic and cultural institutions; and private individuals. This content documents the artistic, cultural, linguistic, social and political diversity of Canada in the modern historical era.

Analog audiovisual content is stored as variations on a physical carrier that correspond to variations in the signal being captured. These physical carriers are called formats.

Digital audiovisual content is stored using the binary number system, which is a stream of discrete numbers, often a series of the digits 1 and 0. A file format is a standard way that digital information is encoded for storage. Digital file formats can also be stored on physical carriers.

Every analog and digital physical carrier requires format specific playback devices to access the content. Digital file formats also require specialized software to access the content.

Due to the rapid pace of technological development in the audio and moving image industries, new physical carriers and file formats are constantly entering the marketplace. Equipment and parts are available only as long as a format has commercial viability. As new technology supplants older hardware and software, the expertise to operate and repair the older technology becomes unavailable. This means that LAC cannot preserve information on older formats indefinitely.

Because of format obsolescence, migration of content has to be pursued. Migration is the process of transferring analog or digital content between physical carriers or different file formats to new file formats. Note1 Migration reduces technological obsolescence issues by standardizing the file formats used.


The purpose of this strategy is to create a pragmatic approach to the preservation of LAC's audiovisual content while supporting access and increasing use of this portion of Canada's documentary heritage.


The three principles of LAC's Stewardship Policy Framework Note2 guide this strategy:

  • Trustworthy: LAC upholds the public trust by continually ensuring that all of its holdings are relevant to Canadians and that they can be accessed, used and accepted as authentic over time.
  • Sustainable: LAC makes responsible acquisition, access and preservation decisions that account for the anticipated long-term preservation requirements of holdings.
  • Collaborative: LAC participates with others to manage and preserve Canadian documentary heritage, and contributes to the development of documentary heritage stewardship in Canada.

Strategic approach

To safeguard audiovisual content, LAC will create preservation masters through migration. The migration process will result in a master file that reproduces the maximum number and quality of the attributes of the original and their interrelationships, in a medium with a high level of longevity.

To ensure the continued accessibility of content, LAC will create access files. Access files are surrogates that reproduce a varying number and quality of the attributes of the original and their interrelationships, usually without a requirement for a high level of permanence.

Approach implementation

LAC will ensure the ability to migrate audiovisual content to preservation quality files by adopting the following practices:

Establishing an equipment acquisition and maintenance program

LAC's significant inventory of increasingly obsolete equipment will be maintained as long as economically possible in order to ensure access to analog content for migration purposes. Simultaneously, digital infrastructure will be continually added.

Maintaining and developing staff competencies

Knowledge of analog migration will be transferred between employees. Concurrently, digital competencies will be acquired through internal training and external recruitment.

Applying migration standards and best practices

All migration will be done according to accepted parameters and approved procedures to recognized standard file formats. Migration will be carried out under controlled conditions and for reasons of authenticity and accountability, appropriate audit trails will be created and event metadata will be captured.

Performing ongoing environmental scans

LAC will foster and maintain an awareness of developments in migration to ensure that technical standards are appropriate and current.

Implementing a project management approach

The migration of content will be planned and managed to ensure efficiency, economies of scale and to take advantage of opportunities offered by various service delivery options.

Delivery options

LAC recognizes that the migration of audiovisual content can be undertaken internally or externally. LAC will employ an appropriate combination of the following migration delivery options:

Internal migration

LAC will migrate content internally when the required capacity can be economically developed and/or maintained. LAC will maximize the volume of audiovisual content migrated internally through the employment of mass digitization techniques.

Partnerships and collaborative arrangements

LAC will actively seek partnerships and collaborative arrangements to accelerate the pace of the migration of audiovisual content.

Supply arrangements

Where reasonable and efficient, LAC will seek supply arrangements with private suppliers of audiovisual migration services.


The implementation of this strategy will have the following results:

  • LAC will preserve audiovisual content through the creation of digital preservation masters.
  • LAC will increase access and facilitate use of its audiovisual collection through the provision of digital access copies.
  • LAC will create files that adhere to international standards and best practices. This will ensure LAC's ongoing ability to manage and preserve this content.
  • LAC will maximize the volume of audiovisual recordings migrated through the pursuit of varied delivery options for migration services.

Roles and responsibilities

  • The responsibility for audiovisual preservation resides with the Director General of the Digital Operations and Preservation Branch.
  • Operational authority for the migration of audiovisual content rests with the Director of the Digital Preservation and Migration Division.
  • The Manager of the Audiovisual Migration Section will implement this strategy. Staff in that section are responsible for all internal migration as well as for administering and approving all work produced off-site through partnerships, collaborative arrangements and private suppliers.

Planning, monitoring and performance assessment

The Manager of the Audiovisual Migration Section will report on evidence-based migration results.

Date modified: