ARCHIVED - Three-year Plan 2019-2022

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Our plans include you

We are asking Canadians to share their ideas and suggestions by email and on PlaceSpeak, an online engagement platform as we prepare our 2019–2022 three-year plan. We have held a series of meetings with our stakeholders and employees, for reflection and exchange and now we wish to broaden our consultation.

Your feedback will help us develop a plan to guide us for the next three years. The plan will be made public in winter 2019.

To maintain consistency and continuity in our operations, commitments and stakeholder relationships, we will draw on the main priorities in the 2016–2019 plan. You can read the environmental scan summary prepared by our Strategic Research and Policy team for these consultations.

To learn how we will protect your privacy during this consultation, read our privacy statement.

  • Privacy statement: Our heritage, our future: Library and Archives Canada's 3-year plan

    The Government of Canada and Library and Archives Canada are committed to respecting the personal privacy of individuals who visit our websites, and who participate in consultations such as this one for our three-year plan. Participation in this consultation is voluntary, and acceptance or refusal to participate will in no way affect any relationship with Library and Archives Canada or the Government of Canada.

    PlaceSpeak hosts the online engagement site on our behalf. Before registering, please carefully review the PlaceSpeak Privacy Policy.

    Questions or comments regarding this privacy notice or the administration of the Privacy Act may be directed to:

    Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator

    Telephone: 613-996-5115 or 1-866-578-7777


    If you believe that your personal information has not been adequately protected, you may wish to contact the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada by calling the information centre at 1-800-282-1376 or by visiting the contact page.

Join in: how to participate

Who can participate in this consultation?

We want to hear from all Canadians.

Key questions for discussion

  • What do you expect from your national library and national archives?
  • What trends (social, technological, demographic or other) should influence our planning for the next three to five years? Why?
  • What activities should we focus on, and why?

What we are hearing: meetings with our stakeholders

We held 9 meetings with stakeholders since the beginning of 2018. Read a short summary of each meeting.

  • March 16: Services Consultation Committee

    Improving in-person services

    Among the ideas put forward, committee members discussed the importance of being open to the public and connecting with clients by working directly with them. Suggestions were made to provide access points in public libraries, create open spaces for all, and consider different levels of access for each type of client. The members also discussed the importance of leveraging the expertise of Library and Archives Canada (LAC) staff. According to the committee, providing access to experts would enable clients to better understand the context in which documents were created. This could be supplemented by external expertise from specialists who would help to describe particular collections.

    LAC's digitization objectives over the next few years

    In addition to collections requiring greater funding for digitization, the committee noted the importance of digitizing Indigenous documentary heritage even if it is not part of LAC's collection. Some suggested the development of a "national Indigenous cultural strategy" to digitize Indigenous documents. The importance of digitizing finding aids was also raised, since researchers outside the National Capital Region need these aids to learn about collections. In another vein, some committee members suggested asking the public, through social media, what they would like to see digitized. Finally, many noted the challenges posed by the personal information in collections that are to be digitized; many resources are required to avoid compromising people's privacy.

    LAC's presence online and at exhibitions

    Recognizing the potential of using external platforms such as Google Cultural Institute, Flickr, Instagram and Wikipedia, the committee emphasized the importance of presenting collections online on LAC's website. If LAC uses the latest technologies, such as predictive research, the user's experience can be improved so LAC's website is the primary source that a client consults. To this end, LAC must develop a strategy to reach as many clients as possible on online platforms. The committee members felt that this approach would allow LAC to become not only a digital institution but also able to provide in-person services. In short, whether through exhibitions or programs that showcase original documents, LAC has the opportunity to play an educational role for Canadians.

  • April 12: Our employees and stakeholders in Vancouver

    LAC's target audience

    Service transformation in the regions provides more vitality in services to Canadians locally. Co-location with the Vancouver Public Library (VPL) will certainly expand the clientele, which perceives a public library as a neutral space, unlike a government institution.

    Several participants agreed that crowdsourcing clients are more engaged. In their opinion, LAC should target millennials (for example, the Inspiration Lab at the VPL) and consider public programming that presents the library as a living space. For the LAC Vancouver office, there is a correlation between LAC and a public library, hence the importance of joint public programming. In addition, LAC could play a role in helping communities manage and preserve their own documentary heritage, without necessarily targeting them as potential clients.

    LAC as a leader

    Several participants expressed their desire to see LAC play a leadership role on certain issues, which means a national coordination role. This leadership role is needed in areas such as the decolonization of descriptions, acquisition of published documents and digitization. LAC could also take part in discussions on fake news, protecting personal data and other topics.

    Importance of partnerships

    Participants repeatedly stressed the importance of partnerships and collaboration for LAC, in the spirit of sharing resources with other institutions and being part of the galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAM) community. Collaboration is especially important in the regions. Positioning LAC at the VPL in Vancouver and at Pier 21 in Halifax helps to break down barriers and reach more clients. In this regard, LAC employees in Vancouver wonder about the active role that they could play outside the National Capital Region.

    Challenges: Access and cultural change

    LAC's services are not well known. Choosing national themes (for example, Canada 150 or Reconciliation) helps LAC to participate in the national discussion and promote its collections. At the same time, good access to available resources remains crucial. This is done through the search engine on the website and also by referring customers to other similar sources.

    The need for cultural change was mentioned several times. Initiatives such as having a Wikipedian in residence or allowing crowdsourcing for descriptions were noted in the past.

    Changing client relationships

    For information professionals, changing client relationships is a major cultural change. The fact that technological platforms such as the DigiLab or crowdsourcing give users a significant share of authority is troubling and "disruptive."

    By focusing on this change in the next three-year plan, LAC could create a profound ripple effect for the entire Canadian—and even international—information community.

  • May 9: Acquisitions Advisory Committee

    The importance of a collaborative approach to acquisitions

    To identify particular gaps in LAC's collection, committee members noted the need to analyze the collection regularly, particularly in the case of private archives. Private archives require regular analysis since they have different acquisition mechanisms from the other components of LAC's collection. In addition, it was noted that some documentary institutions in Canada have excellent collections on a variety of topics that would benefit LAC users. These different collections can be found on various platforms, such as Archives Canada and Voilà. However, a number of collections. such as Indigenous heritage, are not found on these platforms since they have remained with their creators. This approach benefits the collections, as they receive support and expertise from LAC to preserve their heritage.

    Leveraging technological advances to link collections

    A number of committee members talked about the positive experiences of their users, who generally appreciate having access to several sources of information on a single platform. It was mentioned that LAC and its partners in the documentary community would benefit from leveraging linked data to combine different databases across Canada. Locating main sources is still the responsibility of the user during the research process. It was noted that Archives Canada could lend a helping hand in developing this approach.

    Leadership and partnerships

    As in other areas, LAC has a leadership role to play in the acquisition of Canada's documentary heritage. LAC currently has agreements with provincial and territorial archives that are working with local organizations. The situation is more complicated for published heritage, which normally needs to be purchased.

    For historians, LAC should continue to document all voices in society, including those of social movements and Indigenous communities. LAC also collects the digital presence of the Idle No More movement as a complement to other sources.

    Debate on public participation in creating the national collection

    Although members agreed in principle with the idea of adding personal documents of national interest to the collection, they expressed some reservations. First, for archival records, the principle of respect des fonds (or provenance) is important to some, since it provides the archival context of creation. Collecting separate items results in the loss of that context. Second, the discussion revolved around the resources needed to process the items collected. Other institutions that have collected materials of this kind have been unable to incorporate them into their collections because of a lack of resources. It is also important to be clear on the definition of national interest; some documents and photos are of provincial or more local interest and should not be located at LAC.

    It was noted that the Co-Lab crowdsourcing tool may enable contributors to add a photo or biography to an existing item in LAC's collection, which is another acceptable form of acquisition.

  • May 16: Our stakeholders (Stakeholders' Forum, National Heritage Digitization Strategy Steering Committee, Ottawa Declaration Working Group, Steering Committee on Canada's Archives, and university stakeholders

    LAC's vision of the best role to play within non-linear collaborative networks

    Collaboration is essential. The more it is supported by digital platforms, the more it will increase. LAC will play a different role depending on the network and its members; in any case, it will need to understand its place in the ecosystem and its structure: as a network, not a linear hierarchy. LAC should seek to forge new, stronger partnerships in the galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAM) community, presenting itself as an equal and enthusiastic partner. In addition, LAC should intensify its efforts to promote the professions of librarian and archivist to attract new talent; for example, by providing better opportunities to discover these professions.

    In no particular order, here are some of the roles participants suggested LAC should embrace:

    • Libraries and archives: LAC is an advocate and promoter for the librarian and archivist professions.
    • GLAM: LAC is a facilitator and intermediary within the broader cultural industries community.
    • Public: LAC is a catalyst and source of creativity, co-development and innovation.
      • LAC should be a destination for creators and provide for them in physical locations.
    • International: LAC is an ambassador and intermediary abroad.
    • LAC is sometimes a transmission belt, sometimes a motor.

    LAC services for existing users, and search for new users

    There are several ways for LAC to improve how its clients discover and use its collection, and more work remains to be done. The organization should focus on the promotion and use of its collection while continuing to adopt new dissemination methods (such as podcasts). In addition, LAC must keep the importance of physical spaces in mind and take advantage of the shared facility with the Ottawa Public Library (OPL) as a destination and place for creators. With the rise of digital technology, the professions of librarian and archivist are constantly changing. LAC could therefore help to develop and disseminate new standards that would promote a responsible approach to concepts such as artificial intelligence, privacy protection and increased inclusiveness.

    Some specific actions proposed include :

    • Increase discoverability through database development and the potential of artificial intelligence.
    • Increase awareness of the collection.
    • Use new digital platforms for content dissemination (podcasts).
    • Ensure inclusiveness in standards and programs (consider LAC's role in bringing together different parties to develop these standards and programs).
    • Balance exhibition opportunities in physical venues (OPL, destination for creators and community) with digital opportunities.
    • Maintain a local, community and regional perspective, while thinking about harnessing the potential of globalization.

    New digital realities

    Digital, unique to our era, will continue to redefine how LAC does business and with whom. In this context, traditional approaches—whether in relation to programs, standards or copyright—will need to be reviewed. As ways of creating and distributing content change, LAC could play a role in the library and archives community by developing new copyright standards and approaches that are more conducive to fair use. LAC should also consider the needs of communities that may have specific concerns about the use of their content, such as traditional knowledge. LAC will not only ensure that its own organization and the professional community keep pace with digital technology, but also enhance the user experience and increase opportunities for collaboration and co-creation.

    A good number of suggestions and trends LAC should consider were also discussed:

    • Strengthen linkages and interconnections between institutions and the public through the dissemination of digital information and data; make LAC a "knowledge hub."
    • Expand channels and partnership opportunities to maximize collaboration (bilateral and multilateral).
    • LAC can play a role in the development of literacy, including technical literacy.
    • New opportunities:
      • Partnerships with smaller libraries and archives; and
      • Chances to improve service to and collaboration with rural and remote communities.
    • External debates that may involve or affect LAC:
      • Web neutrality;
      • Confidentiality and the "right to be forgotten";
      • Transparency;
      • Open data; and
      • Blockchains.
    • Process changes:
      • Access:
        • Multiple new platforms;
        • Increased interaction with users and other organizations; and
        • Democratization.
      • Government documents:
        • Preservation; and
        • Dissemination.
      • Copyright:
        • Accessing and using content is easier than ever.
        • Some communities have different needs and use atypical approaches.
  • May 30: Our employees and stakeholders in Winnipeg

    LAC's target audience

    LAC will have to decide whether it should give higher priority to individuals or institutions. Youth are an important new clientele for LAC because they will be tomorrow's clients. This clientele will enable LAC to achieve the institution's broad objectives, such as respect for democracy, civic engagement and understanding history to avoid past mistakes. One possible way to reach youth would be to create a scholarship program for students whose research topics relate to LAC's mandate.

    LAC as a leader

    LAC is expected to be a leader and collaborator in providing necessary tools and expertise to other institutions across Canada. The tools vary over areas such as records management (within the federal government) and digital preservation. Smaller institutions will then turn directly to LAC instead of looking for expertise and tools abroad. Given the magnitude of the challenges, LAC needs to revisit its priorities and dedicate the resources required to specific issues. These issues include the acquisition of digital documents and the management and preservation of the existing collection. Some stakeholders also feel that LAC has enough resources and expertise to assist smaller entities such as community archives.

    Importance of partnerships

    In addition to genealogists, LAC is called upon to forge links with other communities (for example, historical societies and heritage fairs) where contact can be made with prospective clients. At fairs, for instance, teachers are involved in creating content that may talk to children and families about the importance of history. Like the summer reading club, LAC could develop a national heritage program for youth.

    Access to information and "information consumption"

    The 2017 environmental scan clearly shows that the public is thirsty for information. In the knowledge society, archives have not always had a prominent place, despite growing interest in information and its consumption. Access to high-quality information remains a challenge. Libraries and archives are recognized as authorities in this field. Technological advances and new crowdsourcing platforms are making it possible to involve the public in describing collections. Assistance to the public would be paramount, with the challenge it creates in terms of controlling the quality of the resulting metadata.

    Today, clients expect access to everything regardless of their location. This access would, in a way, promote social dialogue on current issues in society.

    LAC as a place to meet and discuss

    In general, the public is looking for a place to meet and discuss current issues such as LGBTQ2, #MeToo and Indigenous issues. Libraries and archives, especially public ones, are ideal places in which discussions can take place in a neutral, safe environment. Some items in the collection may support these discussions, by presenting original documents in the collection.

    Regional presence

    For the LAC Winnipeg office, there is still a need to promote LAC's presence and its services, to attract the public. Archivists and librarians have worked hard, since the two institutions merged 15 years ago, to transfer knowledge that benefits reference service staff. LAC must continue to recognize and value the mutual contribution of the two professions in support of LAC's mandate.

  • June 4: Our employees and stakeholders in Halifax

    LAC's target audience

    Participants agreed that LAC should try to attract and retain new clients outside its existing clientele of historians and genealogists. Youth can be targeted through other memory institutions and through collaboration with teachers. LAC's presence on social media (Instagram and YouTube) helps to reach that audience. LAC can also draw on public library outreach for that target audience.

    LAC as a leader

    LAC is different from other Canadian institutions because of its status as a national institution. This gives it a leadership role on several fronts, including helping memory institutions across the country to be connected with each other; providing a broad overview of the existence of documentary heritage to help locate collections across the country; coordinating a national strategy on accessibility (for people with disabilities); coordinating a national approach on the management of born-digital documents; and playing a role in digital literacy.


    Participants discussed the importance of explaining to the public what archives are, especially in the regions. Generally, people have a better idea of what a library is, especially a public library. Bringing part of the collection back to Halifax helps to achieve this goal by putting clients in direct contact with the original records. This awareness-raising exercise must include an explanation of the importance of archives to history, as a foundation of democracy. There will be a greater impact on young clients in schools, for example, if they are shown items in the collection, including digital items.

    Today, libraries, more than archives, are meeting places for communities (community hubs). Young people should be encouraged to visit archives, just as they would visit museums or libraries.

    The challenge of access

    Tools for online research and access to the collection are of great importance. LAC is currently refining its new search tool, Collection Search (Beta). Its website is more intuitive to navigate. The increased use of social media and the linking of podcasts to educational programs may help people to discover LAC's documentary resources. As well, an external guest may take on an upcoming podcast in which an Indigenous artist, for example, presents part of LAC's collection. Similarly, LAC recently experimented with an artist-in-residence initiative.

  • June 20: Public Programming Advisory Committee

    LAC's target audience

    Some committee members felt that LAC should do more to reach out to youth. On June 18, 2018, LAC launched a call for applicants for its new Youth Advisory Council (for 19- to 25-year-olds). Along with this discussion, committee members talked about the media as a preferred way of reaching the public. Serving this audience well would enable LAC to promote its collections, given the broad dissemination of information possible through social media. This train of thought led members to propose a "research assistance service" potentially dedicated to journalists and other media influencers. For example, Statistics Canada has a dedicated media service and produces videos explaining how to find certain types of information. Museums, through Ingenium, have "scientists in residence" who are also regular contacts for the media, thereby enabling the richness of the collections to be highlighted.

    New Canadians are another clientele that may be of interest to LAC. Their stories can enrich LAC's collections, and conversely, LAC can make them more aware of the history of Canadian society and the country's major companies.

    LAC as a leader

    The proliferation of fake news gives LAC the opportunity to play a key role in the area of fact checking. LAC could create a nationwide information literacy program, particularly for youth. Using existing online digital documents, participants in such a program could check the accuracy of the information they have. LAC could also assume the role, in partnership with Canadian Heritage, of countering misinformation within the federal government.

    LAC could also partner with public libraries to teach the public how to manage their personal data and documents.

    It was also noted that LAC should reiterate and emphasize the importance of archival management to some institutions. Protecting Canada's collective memory is very important to avoid the destruction of documents of historical value.

    Lastly, LAC could assume a more active role in the Government of Canada by working more closely with Treasury Board Secretariat on information management and record keeping.

    Visibility and outreach

    LAC should continue efforts to digitize its collections so that all Canadians have access to them. In addition, LAC could try to highlight some of Canada's lesser-known authors by partnering with public libraries and Canada Reads.

  • September 6: Genealogist community

    Improving in-person services

    Discussions included services not only in Ottawa, but also in the Regional offices. The question was then opened to improving online and telephone services.

    Participants discussed barriers to accessing in-person services: travel from remote locations, especially the North; repeated changes to the LAC website and to databases; and for those who are intimidated to enter a government institution.

    Some solutions proposed were to have clearer information with inclusive language, including guides, booklets, YouTube videos, sample searches, streamlined access for those with accessibility issues, and a specific person to guide research for different groups.  A chat function would help, but people still use the telephone, especially those with limited internet access.

    Participants want more person-to-person contact with staff, but recognized that's resource-heavy. They suggested leveraging LAC social media to crowd-source answers. Further outreach was suggested as a way to bring more people in, especially younger people. 

    Those who had visited LAC in-person indicated satisfaction with the welcome by staff, liked the environment, and noted the LAC website provided useful information.

    Citizen participation

    Participants recognized that LAC collaborative projects work well, such as Project Naming. They thought that documents could be curated to groups of specific genealogists or citizens to assist with projects that concern their location/area of expertise. For example, indexing or correcting census records transcriptions for their local community.

    LAC should use lessons learned from previous partnerships, or from other organizations/institutions who have done similar work. A user-friendly website is important, as is being able to search, especially for genealogists for whom searching by last name makes a huge difference. Consider generating excitement for the public through project status updates, such as was done for the digitization of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces service files.

    Targeting Genealogists

    Many genealogists are volunteers who already work on projects locally. They are willing to collaborate, but there needs to be an exchange -- a mutually beneficial agreement.

    Participants suggested that digitized content should be more easily accessible in a user-friendly structure.

    There is an interest for more Indigenous documents to be indexed and digitized such as Residential Schools, treaties, and RG10. It can only move us forward.

    Not everyone knows the word "Genealogy", especially beginners, and those with literacy issues. Suggestions for more inclusive language were ancestry, and person-finding or people-finding.

    Direct contact with groups goes a long way towards creating a good relationship, so LAC should consider speaking at genealogical societies' meetings, conferences, or in community-based non-traditional locales such as the Scottish Games or Plowing Matches where there are thousands of visitors on-site.

  • November 14: Congrès des professionnels et professionnelles de l'information in Montréal

    Congress participants attending the LAC session focused on four specific questions.

    1. What do you think LAC's priorities should be for the next three years?
      • Ensure access to all federal government publications (parliamentary publications, etc.)
      • Be a leader in digitization (international, bilingualism) and share expertise in digitization (infrastructure)
      • Bring the Canadian perspective to the international table, and learn from others
      • Play convenor and leadership roles in the community, e.g., to identify best practices
      • Develop a search tool that will tap into all databases
      • Improve search interfaces or access to information
      • Pursue the Last Copy initiative
      • Improve the service catalogue (resources, standards, etc.)
      • Ensure promotion, visibility, networking and improved communication beyond Ottawa
      • Push co-creation to encourage sharing, (e.g., with collections)
      • Review LAC's regulations (mandate, main mission)
    2. What can LAC do to promote collaboration in your sector?
      • Make expert resources available, and draw up a list of persons to contact for specific information
      • Organize projects/programs for interns
      • Organize gatherings of experts to address challenges, find solutions
      • Communicate LAC's international progress in each sector
      • Strengthen partnerships
      • Establish a presence in the regions (in Québec)
      • Be represented on committees/associations
      • Identify the needs of the different stakeholders
      • Communicate/promote LAC's services
      • Continue the Stakeholders' Forum initiative
    3. What do you think will disrupt the professions of librarian and library technician the most over the next three years?
      • New technology
      • Big data
      • Digital humanities
      • Participation by the general public
      • Perceptions of users (some people still have no idea of what is involved in doing searches)
      • Hybrid libraries (virtual or physical presence)
      • Overlap of print and digital
      • Information globalization
      • Overabundance of information
      • Retirements (loss of knowledge and failure to transfer knowledge)
      • Difficulty in recruiting new employees
      • Artificial intelligence
      • Copyright
      • Fake news
    4. What do you think are the most efficient ways to collaborate with users and clients?
      • Collaborative information systems
      • Online services
      • Access to collections
      • Promotion, e.g., through open houses
      • Increased use of social networks and a significant presence in the virtual world
      • Opening knowledge (foster knowledge) and exchange
      • Regional presence (nothing beats face to face), and use of regional offices to share information
      • Consultation with players for heritage digitization
      • Making allies with networks, and finding unexplored niches to make allies
      • A sense of humour

Contact us

Governance and Collaboration
Library and Archives Canada
550, boul. de la Cité
Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0N4

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