Summary - Evaluation of the Analog Component of the Preservation Program from 2013–2014 to 2017–2018

Component overview

LAC manages a large collection of documents in a wide variety of analog formats. In order to ensure the long-term preservation and accessibility of the analogue collection, several actions are carried out within the framework of two main activities: the physical management of the collection as well as the preservation and conservation of the collection.

The physical management of the collection includes circulation, physical control and space management in a number of special-purpose buildings. For example, at the 395 Wellington Street building in Ottawa, copies for consultation are kept and it is at the building in Renfrew, Ontario, that the political repository is kept, among other things. Finally, the building in Winnipeg houses the records of military personnel and those of the Public Service of Canada. The preservation and conservation of the collection consists of the preservation and processing of books, maps, manuscripts, prints, drawings, paintings and photographs that are part of the LAC collection. Preservation and conservation managers are responsible for providing a secure environment for the collection while promoting secure access to it.

Evaluation questions and outcomes

  • Question # 1: Have the activities been implemented as planned?

    Finding: Partially. Management identifies priorities and implements an operational plan for each of the fiscal years for its collection care, conservation and collection services activities. Management then reports the results in its quarterly reports. Data from past years show that plans and priorities have been or are being achieved. However, the survey of employees and managers showed that priorities and work plans are not well communicated to them, so not all of them are aware of the priorities they should be focusing on.

  • Question # 2: Were the outputs achieved as expected?

    Finding: Achieved. Space management and collection circulation are working well and procedures are being followed. All the testimonies gathered indicates that the quality of the service is excellent. The employees are very professional and handle collection items with care. Visits to the warehouses revealed that they are well maintained and clean, and that the items are placed in boxes in good condition or on shelves.

  • Question # 3a: Is the documentary heritage stored in an appropriate environment?

    Finding: Achieved. The management of the analog component has established standards and procedures and they are applied. The internal survey shows that the standards and procedures are moderately or very well known and that a large proportion of respondents apply them consistently.

  • Question # 3b: Is the documentary heritage preserved in a way that ensures its integrity, authenticity and accessibility?

    Finding: Partially. Interview respondents agreed that the organization is doing what is needed to ensure the integrity, authenticity and accessibility of the collection in the short term. Visits to these buildings have shown that, in general, the collection is stored under appropriate conditions. Internal documents reviewed and interviews revealed that, while management can demonstrate its annual achievements, it is more difficult to demonstrate preservation activities carried out over several years.

  • Question # 4: To what extent is the LAC collection preserved in the medium and long term?

    Finding: Partially. The evaluation shows that follow-up on the condition of the collection was not always regular and that data was not available at the time of the evaluation. The evaluation team noted examples of actions implemented on an ad hoc basis. However, no corrective action is planned or documented for the collection stored in general.

  • Question # 5: Is priority and risk management effective?

    Finding: Partially. Many LAC professionals have to interact in decision-making process regarding the preservation and conservation of the analog collection. Based on the interviews, it would be beneficial to harmonize the interactions between these groups. In addition, some operational risks have been identified and should be more widely known and shared between component managers and employees.

  • Question # 6: Have the resources been used in the best possible way?

    Finding: Partially. Interviews respondents noted that staff turnover is high and that training needs are also high. Several positions are acting positions and many of those are entry-level positions, meaning that employees quickly move on to other positions.

    It was also mentioned during the interviews that materiel management is a challenge. The need for specialized supplies is significant and costs for boxes, envelopes, acid-free files are increasing. Sometimes there is a shortage of equipment and supplies after the budget has run out.

Action for consideration

Risk identification and management should be more widely known and shared between managers and employees.

Recommendations

Recommendations, management response and actions
Recommendations Management response and actions
1. Management should establish a monitoring plan so that there is regular monitoring to ensure that LAC's analog collection is preserved in the medium and long term.

Agreed. Management is currently developing a collection monitoring strategy and will implement the following measures:

  1. Complete the development of the monitoring strategy by the 2nd quarter of 2019-2020
  2. Implement the strategy during the 4th quarter of 2019-2020
2. Management should develop a mechanism to document the results of monitoring and ensure that enough information is collected to support informed decision-making regarding the condition of items in the LAC collection.

A agreed. Management will implement the following measures:

  1. Develop a monitoring mechanism to document the results by March 2020
  2. Provide an annual report to senior management presenting an analysis of the monitoring results by March 2021

Evaluation methodology

To conduct this evaluation, administrative and financial documents, performance statistics and other internal documents of the component were consulted. Interviews, 22 in total, were conducted with analog component managers and employees and other managers involved in managing and delivering the component, such as internal stakeholders in acquisitions, private archives, published heritage and public services. Three LAC buildings, located in Renfrew, Ontario; 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa; and the high-density shelving system collection storage facility in Gatineau, were visited to better understand the conditions under which LAC collection items are stored. Finally, an internal survey was conducted with analog component managers and employees in January 2019. The use of multiple data- collection methods and data triangulation helped to corroborate the findings. This methodology is consistent with the Treasury Board Policy on Results (2016).

Limitations

1. With limited performance data to assess results from the analog component, the evaluation team used other data sources such as interviews, the internal survey and documentation to mitigate this limitation and better support the analyses.

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