Summary - Evaluation of the Access to Documentary Heritage Program, 2011–2012 to 2015–2016

Evaluation questions and results

  • Question 1: Is the program still relevant, and does it continue to meet the evolving needs of clients?

    Result: Yes. The program is still relevant and remains a fundamental pillar of LAC’s mandate. The Access Program continues to improve its services in order to satisfy its clients and to be able to meet their continually changing needs. In particular, there is an effort to ensure that Canadians outside the National Capital Region have better access to services.

  • Question 2: Are the program’s priorities aligned with those of LAC and the Government of Canada?

    Result: Yes. The program is clearly aligned with LAC’s priorities. It also contributes to the Government of Canada’s priorities, in particular the following two: "Open and transparent government" and "Diversity is Canada’s strength."

  • Question 3: Are the roles and responsibilities of the Access Program clearly defined and understood?

    Result: Partially. Some access-related activities are under the administrative responsibility of different branches. The Public Services Branch actually controls only 54% of the salary resources allocated to delivery of the Access Program. All of the branches have their own priorities, thus creating governance challenges.

  • Question 4: Has the performance measurement strategy been implemented?

    Result: Partially. Although the program collects different data, for outputs indicators in particular, the lack of consistent data over the last five years limits the analysis of the performance of some program activities and their progress towards achievement of results. In addition, data collection for some indicators has been discontinued.

  • Question 5: Is the program making progress toward achieving its expected results?

    Result: Partially. The evaluation found that some results had been achieved, but it is difficult to judge the overall expected results because of a lack of data. However, the evaluation showed progress in a number of areas such as:

    • description;
    • indexing;
    • block review;
    • Reference Services and services provided under the Access to Information Act; and
    • digitization and reprography.

    However, efforts are still required to improve the program with respect to:

    • finding aids; and
    • the LAC website.

Recommendations and management response

  • 1. Better coordination of activities and a prioritization of tasks among branches are needed to clarify the governance of the Access Program and the role of staff involved, regardless of the shape the program takes in the future.

    Management response

    1) Operations Sector has reorganized its Branch Structure and clearly identified the functions of the Public Services Branch and the relationship of this branch to the others in the Sector.

    2) Public Services Branch has developed a new Strategy for Services to the Public.

    3) Public Services Branch has developed a Five Year Action Plan for Access (2017-2022) in order to guide priorities, establish responsibilities and coordinate access initiatives.

  • 2. Program managers should undertake a review of output and outcome indicators to ensure that they are collected on an ongoing basis, that the indicators identified are useful for decision making, and that data collection is possible and practical so the program’s progress and outcomes can be measured.

    Management response

    1) Public Services Branch will develop and implement a new Performance Information Profile and Logic Model for the Public Services Program, establishing a comprehensive set of new indicators, results, and outputs to inform the annual Departmental Plan / Departmental Performance Report and other evaluation and accountability instruments.

    2) Public Services Branch will create and implement internal tools to centralize data gathering and reporting for Public Services Program indicators and key operations.

    3) Communications Branch will develop and implement a new Performance Information Profile and Logic Model for the Outreach and Support to Communities Program, establishing a comprehensive set of new indicators, results, and outputs to inform the annual Departmental Plan / Departmental Performance Report and other evaluation and accountability instruments.

    4) Communications Branch will create and implement internal tools to centralize data gathering and reporting for the Outreach and Support to Communities Program indicators and key operations.

  • 3. Efforts should be made to complete the digitization of finding aids.

    Management response

    1) Preservation and Digital Operations Branch and the Public Services Branch will scope requirements for the digitization of finding aids.

    2) Preservation and Digital Operations Branch and the Public Services Branch will begin the process to secure funding.

  • 4. To facilitate access to the collection on its website, LAC should improve the search tools found there as well as navigation.

    Management response

    1) Public Services Branch, the Senior Director General and Chief Information Officer and the Communications Branch will develop an integrated web search tool for streamlined access to all LAC databases.

    2 ) Communications Branch, the Public Services Branch and the Senior Director General and Chief Information Officer will Improve LAC Website architecture and navigation.

Brief description of the program

The purpose of the Access to Documentary Heritage Program is to promote Canadian documentary resources and make them readily available to Canadians. The program consists of two main areas of activity. The first relates to the organization of the collection, which includes description and contextualization of documentary heritage. This process includes activities through which our continuing memory is digitized, described, organized, structured, inventoried and interconnected to facilitate access and meet client needs and expectations. The second consists of reference, information, consultation, reprography and research services delivered to a diverse range of clients. Services can be obtained through multiple channels, including in person, by telephone, by mail, by email and via the Internet.

Evaluation methods

To complete this evaluation, a review of administrative and financial documents, performance statistics, and other internal program documents was completed. Interviews were conducted with managers and employees involved in the management and delivery of the program. The results of an internal review of access methods and an external public opinion survey were also used. Finally, three case studies were conducted to evaluate particular aspects of the program and to answer specific evaluation questions.

Limitations

1. Performance-related data to evaluate program results was limited. To mitigate this limitation, the evaluation team used other data sources, such as interviews, administrative records and the findings of past audits.

2. A cost-benefit analysis was not conducted, as detailed financial data by activity was not available. To mitigate this limitation, the evaluation team used the results of the internal review of access methods carried out in 2016, which in particular included determining the costs associated with different methods of accessing the LAC collection.

3. The evaluation did not cover the following activities, although there were some references to social media given that some participants raised this topic during the interviews:

  • Visibility-related activities (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, blogs, podcasts)
  • TD Reading Club
  • Portrait Gallery
  • Documentary Heritage Communities Program
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