2020–21 Departmental Results Report

​​Library and Archives Canada, 2021
Catalogue No.: SB1-12E-PDF
ISSN 2560-9092

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From the Minister

Pablo Rodriguez

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organizations in the Canadian Heritage Portfolio, including Library and Archives Canada (LAC), have brought Canadians together while promoting mutual support and respect for public health measures. They have shown us that we are stronger and better when we are united for the benefit of all—not only when it comes to health, but also art, culture and heritage, the sectors in which these organizations are active.

In 2020–21, LAC faced the challenges posed by the health crisis in order to fulfill its mandate, ensure the safety of its staff and continue serving the people of Canada in an ever-changing environment. It demonstrated adaptability and flexibility by improving its online presence and digital services, by making its collection more accessible to Canadians wherever in the country they live, by launching its new search tool Collection Search, and by offering exciting—and entirely virtual—public programming.

As the custodian of federal government documents, LAC deals with requests for access to information and the disclosure of personal information related to various ongoing class action cases, including Indian Residential schools. As reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples is a fundamental priority for the government, LAC has carried out its projects with the goal of preserving Indigenous languages and making Indigenous documentary heritage more accessible.

LAC has made significant progress in its two strategic priorities: optimizing its digital capability and transforming its services. Construction has moved forward on the future documentary heritage preservation building in Gatineau, and the new shared facility with the Ottawa Public Library, Ādisōke, has reached major milestones. An additional investment of $34.5 million has been announced to help make this centre for Canadian cultural heritage a net-zero carbon facility.

As Minister of Canadian Heritage, I invite you to have a look at the 2020–21 Departmental Results Report for Library and Archives Canada. I would like to highlight the work done by LAC to successfully navigate a major crisis without deviating from its mission to realize the Government of Canada’s objectives and promote the diverse and inclusive nature of our society.

The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez

From the Librarian and Archivist of Canada

Leslie Weir

2020 was a year to remember. For us, at Library and Archives Canada (LAC), it was all about planning, adapting, pivoting and readapting to serve Canadians and to grow as an organization.

Over the last year, much progress has been done in advancing our two major infrastructure projects—the construction of the new state-of-the-art preservation facility in Gatineau (Quebec), combined with the enhancements to the existing Preservation Centre vaults, as well as the development of the Ottawa Public Library and Library and Archives Canada (OPL-LAC) joint facility.

Despite the momentary construction interruptions due to the pandemic, the new preservation facility located in Gatineau quickly took shape and is getting ready to accommodate our analog collection with the installation of the automated storage and retrieval system. Our team is also finalizing plans to relocate a part of the collection from the storage facility in Renfrew, Ontario, to the new building, which is quite a major undertaking. All this with the objective of ensuring our treasured and delicate Canadian documentary heritage collection remains safe and protected for hundreds of years.

As for the OPL-LAC shared building located on the unceded traditional territory of the Anishinābe Algonquin people in Ottawa, it is worth noting that this facility is being developed in consultation with Indigenous peoples. An important symbol of their engagement in this project was the presence of elders from the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation and the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation at the blessing ceremony of the construction site earlier this fall. This collaboration demonstrates that “Nothing About Us Without Us” is a motto that truly resonates with our core values.

In fact, through our Indigenous documentary heritage initiatives, we have also increased access to Indigenous-related content in the collections in our care and supported Indigenous communities to preserve First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation cultures and languages. This commitment is one of utmost importance as we are walking the path of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and working toward addressing injustices faced by many other marginalized groups in Canada.

More than ever, technology is transforming our lives and compels us to take steps to continue improving our services and fulfilling our mission. With this in mind, LAC launched Vision 2030 in spring 2020. This planning exercise, supported by a transition team, is setting our institution’s course over the next decade—and beyond!

While we move forward with our two strategic priorities, Service Transformation and Digital Optimization, this provides us with an excellent opportunity to self-reflect on our current ways of working and think outside the box when it comes to finding ways to help raise awareness of the collection, and to make it accessible to more people and even more diverse audiences. Quickly shifting our in-person public programming to virtual events is just one the many examples of how we have learned to work differently and effectively in the past year to better meet the needs of Canadians.

Because, after all, our strength as an institution resides in our capacity to preserve, promote, reflect and showcase Canada’s past and present in all its diversity, in a equitable and inclusive manner from both within and outside.

It is a journey onto which the entire institution and I have embarked, and we are excited by all the opportunities that lie ahead.

Leslie Weir, Librarian and Archivist of Canada

Results at a glance

Funds used

Actual expenditures


Actual full-time Equivalents

Results highlights

Fiscal year 2020–21 was defined by the COVID-19 pandemic. Like all federal government departments and agencies, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) had to adapt its services to support Canadians during these difficult times. LAC implemented procedures to ensure the safety of its employees and users in its public spaces, improved its digital services and its online presence, and moved its public programming into the virtual world. In addition, it continued to support the government’s reconciliation efforts with Indigenous communities. To achieve this, it has continued with its initiatives to preserve Indigenous heritage and languages, and to ensure the processing of access to information and privacy requests associated with the Federal Indian Day School Class Action.

The health crisis that broke out in early 2020 created many challenges for the institution in achieving its results. The staff, however, demonstrated exemplary resilience, unshakable optimism and great creativity in fulfilling LAC’s mandate. They contributed in a significant manner to advancing the institution’s two strategic priorities, namely, optimizing its digital capacity and transforming its services.

  • LAC continued to deploy its Digital Asset Management System (DAMS), which now includes 180,000 digital publications accessible using search tools. The institution experimented with implementing DAMS with 40 publishing houses, acquired electronic theses from more than 20 universities and successfully tested a mechanism for the automated transfer of government documents from GCdocs.
  • The joint facility project with Ottawa Public Library achieved new milestones: completion of the architectural plans and drawings, prayer and site purification ceremony guided by elders from the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation and the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation, and the beginning of the preparatory work. In order to welcome more people in its future space, LAC has begun a process of reflection on its cultural programming and service offerings. It conducted a pilot project to develop its flagship collection, which will include some 20,000 titles highlighting the scope and variety of Canada’s published documentary heritage. This collection will be accessible to the public on the dedicated shelves of the future LAC consultation room. During the course of the year, LAC launched its Collection Search tool, making it easier to find the 20 million descriptions available and offering a large number of new features. LAC also worked to develop and publicize its accessibility tools and connected services to reach current and future users with physical disabilities.
  • • Lastly, in support of this important transition focusing on digital technology, public expectations and flexible interactions with its partners and users, LAC launched its Vision 2030 consultation exercise. This process will provide the road map that the institution will follow over the next 10 years, set the objectives it aims to achieve by 2030, and define the initiatives it will implement to achieve them.

For more information on LAC’s plans, priorities and results achieved, see the Results: what we achieved section of this report.

Results: what we achieved

Core responsibility

1. Acquiring and preserving documentary heritage


LAC acquires documentary heritage of historical value and preserves it for current and future generations, as mandated in the Library and Archives of Canada Act. Its collection is made up of documentary heritage preserved in a variety of media and formats. LAC advises the Government of Canada and its institutions on the management of information and ensures that records of historical value are transferred to its collection. Through legal deposit, all materials submitted by Canadian publishers become part of its collection, as well as sampling of Internet content. Other records of national significance are acquired to document Canadian society. LAC uses state-of-the-art techniques and infrastructure to restore the collection and provide optimal conditions for long-term preservation. LAC also builds its capacity and expertise to ensure the availability of digital records.


LAC is working to optimize its digital capacity and its processes by leveraging technology and its expertise to efficiently acquire, process and preserve Canada’s documentary heritage.

Digital optimization

In 2020–21, LAC continued to deploy its Digital Asset Management System (DAMS), which now includes 180,000 digital publications. Once DAMS is fully operational, LAC will be able to acquire, preserve and make accessible to Canadians large volumes of documents created in digital format, such as university theses, Canadian publications and private or government documents. DAMS will regularly monitor data integrity, making it possible to manage and ensure the long term preservation of LAC’s digital assets.

Over the course of the year, LAC tested DAMS with 40 publishing houses and acquired 11,181 electronic theses from more than 20 universities. It implemented new monograph acquisition procedures developed in 2020–21; this work will be made operational in 2021–22. DAMS is now accessible to the public using LAC search tools (Aurora, Voilà and Collection Search).

LAC has also successfully tested a mechanism for the automated transfer of government documents from GCdocs, the system widely adopted by the Government of Canada to save, manage and share electronic information. A pilot project on the disposition of government documents, conducted with five federal departments and agencies (Natural Resources Canada, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying, and Statistics Canada), made it possible to improve the sampling of transferred documents and their associated information, and to validate their compliance with LAC’s minimum metadata standards. Ultimately, the institution is targeting the large-scale operationalization of DAMS within the Government of Canada.

LAC has continued to explore options for acquiring a new archival information system (AIS). In the interim, archivists are continuing to review the descriptive data of archival heritage in preparation for migration to a new system. In 2020–21, they also improved the discoverability of more than 810,000 government and private documents.

Construction of a new preservation facility

Construction of the new LAC preservation facility in Gatineau is making good progress; the analog collection will be preserved there under optimal conditions. Work has progressed well, despite the interruption on the site from March 24 to May 11, 2020, due to the Quebec government decree related to the pandemic. By March 31, 2021, work on the vaults had progressed significantly, and workers were in the process of installing the shelving. Work had also begun on installing the prefabricated concrete panels on the outside, for the external envelope of the building.

Preparations to move analog archival holdings and re-assessment

As it prepares to move part of its analog collection (more than 700,000 containers) to its new storage space, LAC has continued to prepare the collections stored at its Renfrew facility and at the Preservation Centre in Gatineau. Over the past two years, the project team has resolved more than 124,000 problematic cases that could have prevented the safe moving or accessibility of LAC collections. As of March 31, 2021, 47 percent of the collection to be moved had been prepared, which was slightly below the institution’s target of 50 percent.

LAC also began analyzing and re-assessing the documents stored at the Preservation Centre. More than 21,500 boxes of specialized media (maps, architectural plans, technical plans) were re assessed, accounting for more than double the annual objective set by the institution. Some 92,000 boxes of textual documents were also analyzed by archivists. The re assessment of the documents at the storage facility in Renfrew, Ontario, a project that took place between 2017 and 2020, is now completed.

Acquisition and processing of a collection representative of Canada

Under the Library and Archives of Canada Act, Canadian publishers and creators must send their materials to LAC using the legal deposit program. By participating, they are helping to build the national collection. In 2020–21, LAC acquired 87,689 books, scores and sound recordings, documentaries, films, audiovisual recordings, serial publications, and university theses. The institution continued to develop valuable ties with Indigenous publishers and was able to add 491 titles to the collection.

LAC supported the acquisition of documents and resources in alternative formats (large print, braille, electronic and audio versions). As a result, 80 libraries, some of which serve clients with visual impairments, received funding from LAC to enable them to contribute to Voilà, the National Union Catalogue, or to receive interlibrary loan or related cataloguing services. LAC staff also created 450 bibliographic records associated with documents offered in alternative formats (braille, audio books, and descriptive videos).

To ensure the preservation and retrievability of musical documentary heritage, LAC converted metadata from old scores. These metadata were part of an obsolete database that was no longer accessible to the public. Migration made it possible to add 4,230 documents to the Collection Search tool and to update 2,987 existing documents.

In January 2021, LAC announced the acquisition of one of the first documents informing the Allies of the existence of the Holocaust during the Second World War. Written in English in pamphlet form, The Mass Extermination of Jews in German Occupied Poland was published in 1943. Of particular interest in the document is the note written by Edward Bernard Raczyński, exiled Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs. This note had been sent to Allied governments on December 10, 1942.

Unique documents connected to Canada's legal heritage

With funding from the Library and Archives Canada Foundation, LAC was able to acquire four rare British legislative documents that are important in the constitutional history of Canada:

  • Habeas Corpus Act (1679). The rights presented in this legislation are an integral part of the British legal tradition inherited by Canada. These rights were enshrined in section 10 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and form the first part of the Constitution Act, 1982.
  • Bill of Rights (1689). This is fully incorporated into Canadian constitutional law and forms the legal basis under which parliamentary democracy is practised in Canada.
  • Slavery Abolition Act (1833). It served as a catalyst for the Canadian underground railway, which helped many African American slaves to escape the United States and find freedom in Canada.
  • Interpretation Act (1850). This legislation is of particular importance given its statement on gender equality, a first in British legislative history, and consequently in Canadian history as well.

In 2020–21, LAC accepted 141 new private acquisitions. Under its Private archives acquisition orientation, the institution gave preference to analog and digital documents in fields that until then had been under-represented in the collection and cover the following topics and groups:

  • First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation
  • multicultural communities
  • women
  • Francophone culture
  • sexual diversity and gender expression
  • regional diversity: Atlantic Canada, Western Canada and Northern Canada

LAC notably acquired documents from John Garo, a portrait photographer of Armenian descent with whom photographer Yousuf Karsh did his apprenticeship in Boston. The acquisition includes paintings by Garo, as well as a portrait of Garo by Karsh for which LAC also has the archival holdings. An accrual to the fonds of interdisciplinary artists Alma Duncan and Audrey McLaren has enhanced the collections at LAC. The Right Honourable Adrienne L. Clarkson, 26th Governor General of Canada, also donated documents associated with her career and activities since her departure from Rideau Hall.

Also in accordance with its acquisition objectives, LAC added other fonds to its collection, including the Desmarais and Robitaille fonds; this was a Montréal company founded in 1909 that specialized in the liturgical arts and the sale of religious items. The fonds includes, among other things, 11,000 technical and architectural drawings, including more than 9,000 from the workshop of goldsmith Gilles Beaugrand. The other drawings and plans pertain to significant church renovation and decoration projects in Canada and the northeastern United States.

Architectural drawings, photographs and video recordings were added to the Roderick George Robbie fonds; he was the Canadian architect who designed the Canadian Pavilion at the 1967 World’s Fair in Montréal and SkyDome (now the Rogers Centre), Toronto’s main stadium.

LAC also collaborated with the Canadian Museum of History in acquiring documents from Ottawa collector Christopher McKillop. This new fonds documents various election campaigns from the late 19th century and the 20th century. It notably includes postcards highlighting Jack Canuck, a fictional character embodying Canada as a nation (like Uncle Sam in the U.S.), election posters for candidates, and publications on lesser-known political parties.

LAC has continued with the acquisition, processing and preservation of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s personal and political documents. All of the analog documents acquired by LAC have now been reviewed and processed. In 2020–21, the project team focused on documents created in digital format; these make up most of the collection. In fact, this is one of the largest collections of digital documents created or conserved by a private donor and acquired by LAC to date, consisting of around 50 terabytes. Eighty-five percent of this material has been sorted and described, and preliminary classification has been completed. Processing and digital integration will continue in 2021–22.

During this fiscal year, LAC also acquired documents from federal government agencies. In particular, there was an accrual to the fonds of former Crown corporation Ridley Terminals Inc. The fonds for this company, which was privatized in 2019, includes nearly a terabyte of documents created in digital format. It includes documents from the board of directors, correspondence, and maps, technical drawings, photographs and video of the terminal facilities in Prince Rupert, British Columbia.

LAC also added another large accession (160 linear metres) of documents to the fonds of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (formerly the Atomic Energy Control Board, from 1946 to 2000). Over the last few years, this collection has nearly doubled in size.

Photographs from the Department of National Defence fonds were processed (1,123 boxes), for a total of 10,500 described items. For this same fonds, LAC archivists have also described the documents from the series entitled Canadian Army Part II Daily Orders, which includes relevant information about the history of the Second World War and the movement of military personnel. These orders cover the period from 1939 to 1947 and pertain to both the active wartime army as well as the postwar occupation force.

Lastly, the discoverability of documents from the 1950s to the 1980s from the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development fonds has been considerably enhanced. The description of 41,450 files from the Modified duplex numeric system sub-series is now accessible to researchers using an aggregated finding aid available online.

Digital preservation and web archiving at LAC

In 2020–21, LAC preserved 628 terabytes (TB) of digital content, including original and scanned digital documents, totalling approximately 25.7 million files.

The size of the digital collection at LAC is now over 7,640 TB, which includes 6,022 TB of video files, 374 TB of microfilms and 131 TB of audio files. In 2020–21, LAC also migrated 10,425 hours of audiovisual recordings.

In 2020–21, LAC archived over 14 TB of web pages that reflect the evolution of Canadian society. This web content includes:

  • 4.88 TB of sites related to COVID-19
  • 4.16 TB of news media sites (or journalism sites)
  • 1.75 TB of federal government sites
  • 1.29 TB related to the 2019 federal election
  • 0.24 TB of news media sites about Indigenous peoples
  • 0.35 TB related to business and the economy

LAC has also started to harvest sites associated with the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, the Mass Casualty Commission, as well as the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games (postponed to the summer of 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic).

Preserving the analog collection for current and future generations

Although physical access to collections has been difficult this year, LAC conservation and restoration experts have continued their work in order to respond to loan requests for exhibitions and to support the long-term preservation program. They have consequently prepared and processed items that will be presented in exhibitions at the Canadian Museum of History (Unexpected! Surprising Treasures from Library and Archives Canada), the National Gallery of Canada (Photographic Illustrations in the Nineteenth Century) and the Maison nationale des Patriotes. They have continued to process documents contaminated by mould in the Dominion Bridge fonds, as well as albums and negatives on glass plates in the Ottawa photographer William Topley fonds and censuses.

LAC continued its preservation work on 1,800 oversized maps from the Inuit Land Use and Occupancy project, as part of the We Are Here: Sharing Stories initiative; this work will last for several years. LAC also processed documents at the request of clients, to digitize these or respond to access to information requests.

Acquisition, processing and preservation: collaboration, awareness and support

In 2020–21, LAC consolidated its ties and its position in existing networks. Through outreach activities related to its legal deposit program, LAC worked closely with Canadian publishers, directors and producers to have them supply two copies of their creations to the institution. It also provided financial assistance to small public libraries and small libraries at post-secondary institutions (CEGEPs, community colleges and universities) that want to contribute to Voilà, the National Union Catalogue, or to receive interlibrary loan or related cataloguing services.

In June 2020, an important milestone was reached for Canadian libraries through the launch of the Programme francophone des autorités de noms (PFAN). Since 2018, LAC has kept its name authority records in the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) WorldShare integrated library management system. English-language name authority records are kept in the Name Authority Cooperative Program file, while those in French are in the Canadiana file. To expand the scope of the Canadiana file and enable other libraries to participate in its development, LAC collaborated over the last year with the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec and 15 university libraries in the implementation of PFAN. The launch made it possible to add 2.1 million authority records to the Canadiana file, with 660,000 being added by LAC.

The institution played a leadership role in strategic discussions regarding information management associated with the installation of the Microsoft Office 365 platform in all government departments. This new environment will improve communication and collaboration between federal public servants, and it will enhance the efficiency of the services that they provide to Canadians. LAC also continues to be a leader within the federal government on issues involving digital preservation, most notably by participating in the Digital Preservation Working Group and responding to specific needs of departments.

Lastly, the Canadian Collective Print Strategy Working Group also tabled its final report. Created in 2018 and co-chaired by representatives of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries and LAC, this working group has laid the foundation for a program to ensure the conservation and tracking of printed copies. Following this report, 13 library associations agreed to work together to set up a national network for the preservation of collective print collections in Canada, and LAC will be a part of that network.


Describing and processing documentary heritage ... remotely

Physical access to analog records, whether private or government archives or analog publications, has been an issue this year for employees due to health restrictions. LAC staff have shown resilience and innovation:

  • Thanks to the technological tools made available to them, archivists moved ahead with the processing of private digital archives (more than 62 terabytes in total).
  • Librarians responsible for acquisitions assisted with digital operations. In all, 41,638 documents were processed, an increase of 47 percent compared with last year.
  • A pilot project enabled employees to borrow the service copy of some publications in analog format so they could to catalogue them from home. The project was a success, with 2,000 works described, catalogued and made available. Best practices were shared with other libraries.
  • A similar experiment was carried out with serial publications and microfiches. During the second lockdown period, LAC employees working remotely were able to affix bar codes to 28,596 publications and microfiches, well beyond the yearly average of 6,500 publications.

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The new preservation facility in Gatineau will be the first government building in North America to emit zero greenhouse gases. This project helps in achieving two United Nations sustainable development goals: SDG 9, which involves building a resilient infrastructure, promoting sustainable industrialization and encouraging innovation; and SDG 12, which involves establishing sustainable means of consumption and production through efficient use of resources and energy.

As an institution responsible for the preservation of Canadian documentary heritage for current and future generations, LAC owns, manages and operates five specialized facilities in Canada. Its need for space is determined by the size of its collection and its future growth. In addition to these five facilities, LAC rents office space in the National Capital Region and, under collaboration agreements, it occupies space in the Library Square Tower of the Vancouver Public Library, as well as in the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax. In October 2020, LAC unveiled its Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy: 2020–2023. It is helping to achieve the second goal, Greening Government, in the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy. More specifically, LAC is taking measures so that its buildings are greener and consume less energy.

As part of the enhancement of some targets during the unveiling in October 2020 of the new version of the Greening Government Strategy, LAC updated its departmental strategy, which was presented in a Supplementary Information Table that accompanied its 2021–22 Departmental Plan.

Results achieved
Departmental resultsPerformance indicatorsTargetDate to achieve target2018–19 Actual results2019–20 Actual results2020–21 Actual results
LAC acquires a collection that is representative of Canada Percentage of federal institutions transferring records annually15%March 31, 202118%15%5%table 1 note 1
Percentage of active publishers transferring publications annually82%March 31, 202179%70%82%
Percentage of acquisition priorities that lead to an acquisition agreement75%March 31, 202173%88%76%
Documentary heritage acquired by LAC is processed in a timely manner to make it searchablePercentage of government records processed in keeping with service standards60%March 31, 202143%62%39%table 1 note 2
Percentage of published heritage processed in keeping with service standards80%March 31, 202183%Not available98%
Percentage of private archives processed in keeping with service standards90%March 31, 202193%87%30%table 1 note 3
LAC’s collection is preserved within standards for current and future generationsPercentage of analog holdings maintained within Library and Archives Canada preservation standards75%March 31, 2021Not availableNot availableNot availabletable 1 note 4
Table 1 Notes
Note 1

The 15 percent target was not reached because few federal institutions were able to transfer their documents, given the teleworking situation. Therefore, 5 percent of the 182 federal institutions transferred their documents to LAC in 2020–21, which is a decrease compared with the previous year (15 percent).

Return to table 1 note 1 referrer

Note 2

Physical access to analog documents was an issue for employees this year because of the pandemic and health restrictions. This had an impact on the processing of recent accruals (only 39 percent was inventoried in keeping with service standards).

Return to table 1 note 2 referrer

Note 3

The data for this result were incorrectly collected or reported.

Return to table 1 note 3 referrer

Note 4

Data for this result were not available. Delays were caused not only by the pandemic, but also by the transition of management of the Preservation Centre in Gatineau. Starting in 2021–22, a new indicator will be used to measure the percentage of facilities that provide an environment that is up to standard for the preservation of the analog collection. The annual result will be the average of the percentages over the last four quarters.

Return to table 1 note 4 referrer

Budgetary financial resources (dollars)
Main Estimates
Planned spending
Total authorities available for use
Actual spending (authorities used)
Difference (Actual spending minus Planned spending)

The difference between the total authorities available for use of $75.4 million and the actual spending of $58.2 million is primarily due to the alignment of funding to support the long-term management strategy for the LAC real property portfolio.

Human resources (full-time equivalents)
Planned full-time equivalents
Actual full-time equivalents
(Actual full-time equivalents minus Planned full-time equivalents)

Financial, human resources and performance information for LAC’s Program Inventory is available in GC InfoBase.

2. Providing access to documentary heritage


LAC provides access to its collection, while respecting legal, policy and contractual obligations. Using cutting-edge technologies, LAC enables Canadians to access and consult its collection and enrich their knowledge of Canada’s documentary heritage. LAC makes digital content available through its website and social media to improve access to its collection. As well, LAC provides online services and in-person services at its four service points. LAC uses innovative strategies such as crowdsourcing (Co-Lab) and the Digi-Lab to complement the digital content of its collection. LAC also promotes Canadian heritage by creating exhibitions that enable the public to discover its collection in cultural sites throughout Canada. Through the Documentary Heritage Communities Program, LAC supports memory organizations by increasing their capacity to preserve and make their collections accessible.


LAC is working to enhance and transform its services and improve its digital presence to make its collection even more accessible. The organization will base its efforts on the Policy on Service and Digital as well as on the Government of Canada Digital Standards to offer services focused on the needs of users and provide them with user-friendly access to content of interest.

Joint facility with Ottawa Public Library

Since 2016, LAC and Ottawa Public Library have been working closely together on a joint facility project encompassing more than 20,000 square metres. The design team has completed the architectural plans and drawings and the construction specifications for the call for tenders to be issued by the City of Ottawa. Preparatory work on the site began in the fall of 2020 and should be completed in the spring of 2021.

The start of the work was commemorated in a very special way. In October 2020, elders from the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation and the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation facilitated a prayer and site purification ceremony for the future joint facility.

First Nations and Chaudière Falls

The future facility at 555 Albert Street in Ottawa will be located not only on the traditional unceded territory of the Anishinabeg Algonquin people but also near Chaudière Falls.

The Chaudière Falls were formed when the Champlain Sea receded at the very end of the last glacial period. For the longest time, this natural obstacle required three portages. Since time immemorial, this place for trade, meeting and remembrance has been sacred to First Nations. In the Algonquin language, the falls are called Asticou, which means “where the waters boil.”

When passing through, the Anishinabeg would offer tobacco to the spirit of the falls to ask for protection in facing the dangers of the Ottawa River.

In September and October 2020, three virtual engagement sessions were held with the urban Indigenous community of Ottawa and with national organizations. The purpose was to present the sources of architectural inspiration for the design concept and initial concepts for integrating Indigenous art, as well as to foster discussion regarding the programs, collections and services offered. This was followed up with an online survey on the design of the interior and exterior spaces as well as the types of activities offered.

In February 2021, the Indigenous Public Art Program was launched, adding to the public art mandate already assigned to Jason Bruges Studio by the architects and the project team. The program will pay homage to Indigenous history and culture using works created by Indigenous artists from Canada.

Lastly, a virtual open house was held on March 30, 2021. The project team gave an overview of the work schedule, provided a description of the types of activities planned as part of the preparatory work and answered residents’ questions. The joint facility is expected to open in late 2024 and will be officially inaugurated in early 2025.

Service transformation

The prospect of welcoming its users and a wider public to its future spaces is an opportunity for LAC to rethink its cultural programming and its range of on-site and online services. Projects to transform these services have made significant progress in 2020–21.

Notably, four working groups were set up to inventory the activities pertaining to visitor orientation, collection consultation, reference services, and genealogy and public programming. A pilot project to develop a flagship collection was launched and completed. This collection will include a selection of 20,000 titles and be available to the public on dedicated shelves in the future LAC consultation room. The titles will highlight the scope and variety of the published collections preserved by LAC.

LAC is also working on a new website that will showcase its accessibility tools, including stations with specialized software and adapted technological tools to assist the visually impaired as well as new related services. Users will be able to receive specialized assistance services from reference and consultation service employees. Procedures and user guides have been developed, and staff have been trained to assist.

To improve the online search experience for users, LAC has discontinued its archival holdings search tool and replaced it with Collection Search. This new tool offers many new features and makes searching easier in more than 20 databases, including Collections and Fonds (MIKAN) and Aurora. These two databases account for 30 percent of LAC’s described collection. This year, datasets on Indian Reserves – Western Canada and Treaties, Surrenders and Agreements were integrated. The tool will ultimately contain more than 100 independent datasets and will become the largest integrated database ever created by LAC.

A new viewing tool now makes it possible to display documents in PDF and JPEG format as well as audiovisual material in Collection Search. Thanks to some important behind-the-scenes work, collection access and discoverability were improved: the original search engine for Collection Search has been replaced by Google Cloud Search.

Facilitating access to collections

In 2020–21, LAC continued to serve Canadians and to facilitate access to documentary heritage through its reference, genealogy, orientation, copy and consultation services. LAC service points in Ottawa, Halifax, Winnipeg and Vancouver completed 36,632 transactions. Since these service points had to be closed at times because of COVID-19, a large number of the transactions were completed over the telephone, by email and virtually, including appointments with archivists and reference librarians.

LAC service points
Service pointsNumber of days open to the publictable 3 note 1Closure dates
Ottawa46 daysApril 1 to November 6, 2020
December 23, 2020, to February 19, 2021
Halifax31 daysApril 1 to September 15, 2020
November 26, 2020, to March 31, 2021
Winnipeg54 daysApril 1 to September 15, 2020
November 11, 2020, to February 16, 2021
Vancouver115 daysApril 1 to September 1, 2020
Table 3 Notes
Note 1

At all of our service points, capacity as well as opening hours had to be reduced by 50 percent, particularly in Ottawa, where they dropped from 91 hours over seven days to 24 hours over four days.

Return to table 3 note 1 referrer

In the spring and summer of 2020, LAC developed and implemented procedures and protocols to protect the health and safety of employees and users. For example, procedures for consultation and document quarantining made it possible to provide reference, genealogy and copy services. When it was possible to reopen the service points, these procedures also made it easier to welcome users in the public areas. The environment was adapted to meet physical distancing requirements and authorized capacity limits, and thorough cleaning protocols for the areas and tools were implemented. Portable stations where clients could wash their hands with soap and water were installed, since disinfectant gel could cause damage to the collection. The installation of Plexiglas also enabled safe interactions between staff and users.

When the public areas reopened in Ottawa, clients could book their visit using an online booking system. This system was also used to provide information on health and safety procedures; this was posted and regularly updated on a web page devoted to Reopening Library and Archives Canada. A video was also posted, and LAC’s social media accounts were used to reach, inform and reassure users about the institution’s ability to welcome and serve them safely.

LAC staff also used a new information management tool (RefSpace) to offer remote support to researchers and enable them to share and access various guides. LAC redesigned its Genealogy and Family History web page and made corrections to several databases, which improved search effectiveness. The digitizing of several search instruments helped to minimize the movement of employees and clients. It should be pointed out that even during the periods when LAC was closed to the public, it continued to support its clients for urgent access requests, including other departments for requests pertaining to business continuity plans or ongoing litigation. LAC supported 10 departments with 22 urgent consultation sessions and processed urgent copy requests.


Over the course of the year, LAC digitized 2,241,634 documentary heritage images, a crucial step in making documentary heritage more accessible and in facilitating genealogical research or research involving litigation, land claims, agreements, inquiries and commissions. Of that number, 778,957 images were digitized as part of the transition project for the joint facility with Ottawa Public Library, and 17,315 images for We Are Here: Sharing Stories (590,909 images have been digitized since this initiative began in April 2018). To make it easier to retrieve Indigenous content in the collection, LAC also created a consultable list and geographic representation of the digitized archives (Google Maps), enabling users to conduct searches by region.

Through the DigiLab, LAC helped users to launch digitization projects, for a total of 5,957 images digitized by the public. By comparison, 28,175 images were digitized last year. This decrease is due to the closure of the facilities for more than six months. Since its launch in 2017, the DigiLab has made it possible to complete several projects, including two that were part of Landscapes of Injustice. This project led by the University of Victoria, in partnership with various university and government organizations (including LAC) tells the story of the Japanese Canadians who were stripped of their property and interned during the Second World War. More than 40,000 pages and 180 photographs digitized by the DigiLab are now accessible online.

Online presence

More than ever, LAC has been there virtually to help Canadians in their searches, informing and encouraging them to explore the vast heritage collection. LAC specialists put their expertise and keen interest to work in creating and disseminating articles, photo albums, videos and podcasts. The LAC blog was consulted more than 200,000 times, and 51 new articles were posted. A wide variety of topics pertaining to Canada’s history and documentary heritage were explored. Notably, the post entitled “Pushing Back: The Ongoing History of Black Activism in Canada” was the subject of an outreach campaign on LAC’s social media accounts. Other contributions pertaining to the Vimy Memorial, Canadians and the Military Occupation of Iceland (1940–1941), the defection of Russian information officer Igor Gouzenko as well as One Hundred Years of the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada highlighted Canada’s military and political history.

Eighteen of the 51 blog posts were devoted to Indigenous languages and documentary heritage as part of the We Are Here: Sharing Stories initiative. Most of these blog posts were written by LAC employees who identify as members of First Nations, Inuit or members of the Métis Nation. They offer a unique perspective on the collection, including the posts about Mohawk activist Kahentinetha Horn, the Métis Nation river lot plans, the birth of Manitoba and the photography of Inuit tattoos.

The public was also able to discover LAC’s collections of images through 32 new themed albums on Flickr. In 2020–21, the various themed albums generated 2.5 million views.

Always very popular, LAC podcasts were listened to 100,000 times this year. Eight podcasts were added to the LAC website, including a two-parter on the Avro Arrow aeronautics project, a podcast about the contributions made by Canadian military nurses during the First World War and another on singer Éva Gauthier.

LAC has continued to optimize its use of digital technology, not only to provide access to its collection but also to disseminate it among all generations, anytime, anywhere. Its presence on various social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram has been invaluable in promoting events or raising awareness of its infrastructure projects. LAC has also launched a new account on LinkedIn, a platform it can use to reach out to a new audience, demystify its mandate and highlight the expertise of its employees.

LAC’s social media accounts helped to relay key federal government messages during COVID 19. The institution also developed unique content by providing examples of situations where Canadians demonstrated solidarity in the past. Using various hashtags (#PhysicalDistancing, #WearaMask, #VaccinesWork ), LAC has been encouraging Canadians to follow public health recommendations, while presenting images from its collection that are relevant to the ongoing pandemic.

Users had opportunities to enhance LAC’s digital content themselves, through four new challenges on Co-Lab, for a total of 1,326 contributions from the public. One of the challenges was about the documents of Black businessman, municipal and federal elected representative John Freemont Smith. Another focused on the war diaries of Lieutenant-Colonel D.H. Sutherland, Commander of the No. 2 Construction Battalion during the First World War. This is the only all-Black battalion in Canadian military history. In fact, the government has announced that it will offer apologies to the families of the members of this battalion for the discrimination and racism to which they were subjected.

To make its website more user-friendly, more clearly presented and more accessible, LAC is working to implement the models and principles of Canada.ca in its new web templates. Making the user experience a central part of its website renewal, LAC has developed and conducted tests in order to validate an approach and interface focused on user needs. The new site will be structured under three themes: organizational elements, services and the collection. The redesign of LAC’s website pages has also been the subject of consultations with its programs and services.

Promoting Canadian documentary heritage: workshops, public events and exhibitions

The year 2020–21 was exceptional in many respects. To deal with the challenges posed by health restrictions and meet the expectations of its partners and users, LAC moved its public programming to the virtual world and developed new content. Employees in the National Capital Region and in regional service points, in collaboration with partners from the galleries, libraries, archives and museums sector, facilitated and presented many activities, including round tables, information sessions and orientation workshops regarding searches, on its virtual platforms.

In-person workshops were reviewed. A dozen videos and online learning activities were created and disseminated as part of virtual workshops. For example, two online workshops were prepared, then presented to, students at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University, to facilitate searches for Indigenous content in the collections.

The educational workshop entitled In the Trenches Webinar: Explore digitized First World War Records in the Library and Archives Canada collection was presented once again. Through this introductory webinar, participants learn more about the military service of their ancestors who fought during the First World War, as well as how to access the online service files of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. LAC also presented a second webinar, this one focusing on the War diaries of the First World War.

The live weekly sessions entitled Connection to Kith and Kin in collaboration with the Vancouver Public Library continued. Their theme is Indigenous genealogy, and they incorporate elements of Indigenous cultural practices. LAC also participated in a question-and-answer session organized by the U.S. genealogy company Ancestry. Presented live, the Ancestry Extra – Uncovering the Archives – Genealogical Research with Library and Archives Canada webinar drew many participants. More than 22,000 unique visitors have viewed it since it was posted on Facebook.

In 2020–21, LAC and its partners organized online public events in which 3,182 people participated. In collaboration with the University of Ottawa Press, LAC held a conference on the phenomenon of “social triage,” which continues to exist in society. Titled Vulnerable: The Law, Policy and Ethics of COVID-19, this conference brought together Sophie Thériault, Martine Lagacé and Katherine Lippel, three University of Ottawa professors who are among the authors of a recent work on the subject.

Flagship activities, such as the Signatures Interviews series and the Wallot-Sylvestre seminars, were broadcast on both of LAC’s YouTube channels (one in English and the other in French). The Signatures interviews helped to raise the general public’s awareness of the archives and stories of two donors: the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson and author Arlette Cousture. The Wallot-Sylvestre Seminar focused on the importance of collaboration in digital humanities. The Librarian and Archivist of Canada, Leslie Weir, hosted a discussion with several leaders in this field.

On January 26, 2021, LAC commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Although the event is normally held in person, guests were able to virtually witness the importance of fighting anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. Four events were also organized in partnership with the Ottawa International Writers Festival and Ottawa Public Library:

A new event this year was LAC and the German National Library holding conversations (two in a series of four) that were broadcast live on LAC’s YouTube channels. These conversations address the impact of digitization on these two national institutions and guardians of documentary heritage. The first discussion was between Leslie Weir, Librarian and Archivist of Canada, and Frank Scholze, General Manager of the German National Library. They discussed digitization practices and priorities. The second discussion focused on initiatives promoting digital access and increased public participation.

For a good part of 2020–21, museums and cultural centres were closed. However, the lifting of some restrictions allowed the partial reopening of their exhibition rooms. In 2020–21, 7,039 people visited the exhibitions presented by LAC and its partners, in Canada and abroad.

For example, people visiting the National Gallery of Canada could also view the Canadian and Indigenous art room containing works from the collections at LAC, such as photographs showing sporting life in Canada and shots taken by photojournalist Felix H. Man. The Metamorphosis: Contemporary Canadian Portraits exhibition was presented at the Glenbow Museum in Alberta from March 2020 to January 2021. This third exhibition, featuring portraits from the LAC collection and the Glenbow collection, was designed as part of a collaborative agreement between the two institutions. Canadians were able to see works by 14 artists, including Sorel Cohen, Toni Latour, Evergon, Sar Angelucci and Arnaud Maggs.

The travelling exhibition Hiding in Plain Sight on the history of the Métis Nation, organized by LAC in collaboration with the Manitoba Metis Federation and the Métis National Council, made stops at the Jasper Yellowhead Museum in Jasper, Alberta (January to May 2020), then at the Western Development Museum in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan (August to December 2020). Since January 2021, it has been on display at the Métis Crossing Cultural Gathering Centre in Smoky Lake, Alberta.

Collaborating with partners to increase access to documents

To promote access to documentary heritage, LAC has continued to strengthen its ties with Canadian universities. In October and December 2020, it met with its university partners to discuss future collaborations. A proposed joint action plan to promote collaboration between LAC and its partners was adopted. This action plan will be developed in 2021–22.

Over the past year, LAC signed a new collaboration agreement with the Université du Québec à Montréal and renewed its agreements with Dalhousie University and the University of Ottawa. The sub-agreement with the latter institution was also renewed for five years. It involves a project on the Canadian Archive of Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), conducted in collaboration with Archives and Special Collections at the University of Ottawa Library and the Canadian Institute for Women in Engineering and Sciences. Thanks to this initiative, a centre of expertise for current and future researchers was established. In 2020–21, LAC archivists helped to increase the number of bilingual descriptions in the inventoried archival holdings.

LAC also supported universities and teams of researchers in their activities to increase access to documentary heritage in Canada. These activities included:

  • Nouvelle-France numérique. This research project, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, brings together professors from 12 universities and colleges. Using technology enabling the recognition of handwritten texts and through partnerships with archival institutions, including LAC and the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, the project will implement a common platform (Transkribus) to share the transcriptions of handwritten and printed sources and their associated metadata.
  • Muslims in Canada Archives (MiCA). The purpose of this collaborative project at the University of Toronto is to acquire, preserve and make accessible Muslim documentary heritage in Canada. Individuals, associations and organizations from the community as well as universities and archival institutions are working together to preserve the testimonies of a community that is still not very well represented within Canadian documentary heritage.
  • Mountain Legacy Project. This project, supported by several partners and conducted by the School of Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria, analyzes transformations in mountain landscapes and climate change in Canada by using historical photos. The project team is currently working to secure storage, digitize photographs and consolidate the collections at LAC and the University of Victoria.

At the national level, LAC invited galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAMs) to the GLAM Think Tank on the Post-COVID-19 Landscape. This initiative consisted of five meetings with 60 representatives from GLAMs with the goal of finding new opportunities arising from the pandemic. Participants shared ideas on how to increase the digital presence of GLAMs, demonstrate their relevance during this crisis, enhance their capacities at the local level and reinvent themselves as a community.

LAC also continued to support the growth and development of official language minority communities (OLMCs). It focused on a fundamental issue that is at the core of its mandate: how can history and heritage contribute to the development, or vitality, of OLMCs? In January 2021, a concept paper on memory vitality was published. This project led to a partnership with the Centre de recherche en civilisation canadienne-française at the University of Ottawa and the Avie Bennett Historica Chair at York University to organize study days to validate the document.

At the international level, LAC continued to work together with its partners to improve access to documentary heritage. Among the ongoing collaboration projects to increase collection access and visibility, LAC is participating in the creation of the France in the Americas portal by the Bibliothèque nationale de France. Ultimately, around a hundred documents from the LAC collection will be included and accompanied by texts highlighting them.

Promoting access to Indigenous documentary heritage

In 2020–21, LAC continued to implement its Indigenous Heritage Action Plan. Discussions with representatives from Indigenous communities and members of the LAC Indigenous Advisory Circle provided input for the reflection process and guided improvements in practices in all aspects of our institution’s mission. In October 2020, an update to the Indigenous Heritage Action Plan Implementation Progress Report was published on the LAC website. It should be pointed out that significant progress has been made on 27 of the 28 commitments, and they are on their way to being fulfilled.

Notably, in 2020–21, LAC reached its target of publishing 36 blog posts and recording three podcasts on Indigenous themes. Indigenous accounts and points of view were also featured in podcasts that focused on other topics, such as the Ascent of Mount Logan.

An e-book is also being prepared. Titled Nations to Nations: Indigenous Voices at Library and Archives Canada, it will include 28 essays written by LAC employees who identify as members of First Nations, Inuit or members of the Métis Nation. Each contribution will feature documents from the collection at LAC (newspapers, maps, photographs, audiovisual recordings or printed materials), most of which were digitized as part of the We Are Here: Sharing Stories initiative. The e-book will highlight the following Indigenous languages and dialects: Anishinaabemowin, Anishinabemowin, Denesųłiné, Kanien’kéha, Mi’kmaq, nêhiyawêwin, Nishnaabemowin; Inuktut (a few dialects); and Michif.

Supporting communities

LAC supported local communities to foster access to documentary heritage through its contribution programs. The Listen, Hear Our Voices initiative contributed $2.3 million to projects carried out by 31 Indigenous organizations across the country. This initiative supports project activities that involve locating, digitizing and preserving Indigenous-language recordings and enhancing the digitization and preservation capacity of organizations. Beneficiaries included an Inuit film and audio content archiving project (Nunavut Independent Television Network) and the translation and digitization of the linguistic archives of the Dakelh de Saik’uz (British Columbia). To date, LAC has digitized more than 700 audiovisual recordings as part of this initiative. Indigenous archivists involved in the project have also completed a research guide for Indigenous-language recordings. It will include more than 300 descriptions of archival holdings, representing a total of nearly 50 Indigenous languages. The guide will be posted on the LAC website in 2021–22.

A second funding call for this initiative was initiated in October 2020. An external review committee made up of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation representatives from across Canada was tasked with evaluating the applications and drawing up recommendations. Recipient organizations will be announced in 2021–22.

Since 2015, through its Documentary Heritage Communities Program, LAC has provided funding to 159 organizations, supporting 253 projects intended to raise awareness of and provide access to Canada’s rich history. In 2020–21, LAC supported 40 projects (36 are new), including an oral history project on the movement supporting the rights of people with disabilities in Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as sound recordings from the archival holdings of the Société historique de Saint-Boniface. Over the past year, LAC followed up closely with recipients and offered some flexibility because of the pandemic (such as extending time frames for projects).

Openness and transparency

The institution continued to support the federal commitment to the principle of openness and transparency. This year, the block review initiative for government archival holdings celebrated its 10th anniversary. This proactive LAC approach is used to analyze samples of documents in accordance with the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.

Through block review, more than 50 million pages of federal records to which access was limited are now available to the public. An index provides the entire list of documents available for consultation. These materials can also be searched using the Government of Canada Open Data Portal. In 2020–21, LAC opened access to its collection of writs of election since 1985 (these documents are part of the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer fonds ), which are documents relevant to Canadian political history. A writ of election is a formal written order instructing the returning officer in each electoral district to hold an election to elect a Member of Parliament.

LAC has also continued to support the government’s reconciliation efforts with Indigenous communities. Notably, it processed 865 access to information and privacy requests associated with the Federal Indian Day School Class Action.

Nevertheless, limited physical access by staff to LAC’s analog collections and to its secure infrastructure has delayed processing ATIP requests. For several years now, LAC receives an increasing number of requests. For example, since 2016, requests have grown annually by approximately 30%, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated an already extensive backlog. As LAC is the custodian of billions of pages or records, held on behalf of over 200 federal organizations, the department’s responsibility in this domain far exceeds those of other departments and agencies.

An Agile, User-Centred Approach

The team responsible for developing the Collection Search tool has become the LAC agile team for services and digital. This multidisciplinary team is responsible for maintaining, improving and developing various digital services and products, such as the crowdsourcing tool Co-Lab, search reservation services, the My Account dashboard and online services for access to personal information requests.

Black and white sketch showing a creative process spread over 5 working days, including the name of the step and a graphic symbol for each one

In 2020–21, the agile team held a design sprint for the interface of LAC user accounts. This agile approach helps to speed up the creative process or resolve a specific problem in a short period of time. In five days, this multidisciplinary team was able to imagine, develop and test a prototype using various user-centred ideation and design techniques. This experience was also an opportunity to become familiar with the agile method and its benefits.

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

In November 2020, as part of the Fall Economic Update, the Government of Canada announced an additional investment of $34.5 million in the joint facility project between LAC and Ottawa Public Library, namely for significant net-zero carbon facility improvements that support the Greening Government Strategy, including:

  • improved exterior cladding and insulation
  • triple-glazed windows
  • solar panels on the roof and embedded in the facade
  • more environmentally friendly construction materials
  • an interior green wall

This investment will reduce the building’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent. The joint facility promises to be a Canadian cultural heritage site and a gathering place enjoyed by residents and visitors, as well as an excellent example of the Government of Canada’s commitment to building sustainable infrastructure.

Results achieved
Departmental resultsPerformance indicatorsTargetDate to achieve target2018–19 Actual results2019–20 Actual results2020–21 Actual results
Canadians increasingly access Canada’s documentary heritageAmount of LAC holdings digitized3.5 million imagesMarch 31, 20214.8 million images3.5 million images2.2 million imagestable 4 note 1
Number of unique visitors to LAC’s website and online applications2 million unique visitorsMarch 31, 2021Not availableNot available2.7 million unique visitors
Number of service transactions at LAC’s national service points in Ottawa, Halifax, Winnipeg and Vancouver, through all service channels80,000 transactionsMarch 31, 202181,399 transactions84,418 transactions36,622 transactionstable 4 note 2
Canadians are more aware of their documentary heritageNumber of participants that attended exhibitions and events delivered by LAC or in collaboration with other organizations150,000 participantsMarch 31, 2021231,711 participants184,899 participants13,705 participantstable 4 note 3
Number of collection items loaned for exhibitions125 itemsMarch 31, 2021220 items94 items20 itemstable 4 note 4
Percentage of Documentary Heritage Communities Program recipients that have achieved their expected results85%March 31, 202195%94%68%table 4 note 5
Table 4 Notes
Note 1

Because of the pandemic, LAC was able to digitize content in its collection for only six months in 2020–21.

Return to table 4 note 1 referrer

Note 2

The various LAC service points were accessible to the public for only a reduced number of days in 2020–21, which had an impact on the number of transactions completed. The majority of them also took place over the telephone or by email.

Return to table 4 note 2 referrer

Note 3

For a good part of 2020–21, museums and cultural centres were closed, and the capacity of their exhibition rooms was reduced. Public in-person events could not be held, and a virtual format had to be adopted. The breakdown of participants was as follows: 7,039 participants for the exhibitions, and 3,182 participants at public and virtual LAC events.

Return to table 4 note 3 referrer

Note 4

Several item loans were pushed back because of the closure of museums.

Return to table 4 note 4 referrer

Note 5

Due to exceptional circumstances, the submission of final reports has been delayed for some Documentary Heritage Communities Program recipients. The results provided therefore reflect an analysis of the data received to date.

Return to table 4 note 5 referrer

Budgetary financial resources (dollars)
2020–21 Main Estimates2020–21 Planned spending2020–21 Total authorities available for use2020–21 Actual spending (authorities used)2020–21 Difference (Actual spending minus Planned spending)

The difference between the $36.1 million in total authorities available for use and the $32.5 million in actual spending is mainly due to carry-forwards to fund obligations related to the partnership between LAC, Ottawa Public Library and the City of Ottawa for the joint facility project.

Human resources (full-time equivalents)
2020–21 Planned full-time equivalents2020–21 Actual full-time equivalents2020–21 Difference (Actual full-time equivalents minus Planned full-time equivalents)

Financial, human resources and performance information for LAC’s Program Inventory is available in GC InfoBase.

Internal Services


Internal Services are those groups of related activities and resources that the federal government considers to be services in support of programs and/or required to meet corporate obligations of an organization. Internal Services refers to the activities and resources of the 10 distinct service categories that support Program delivery in the organization, regardless of the Internal Services delivery model in a department. The 10 service categories are:

  • Acquisition Management Services
  • Communication Services
  • Financial Management Services
  • Human Resources Management and Security Services
  • Information Management Services
  • Information Technology Services
  • Legal Services
  • Material Management Services
  • Management and Oversight Services
  • Real Property Management Services


Internal Services provided support for the implementation of programs and the strategic priorities associated with optimizing digital capacity and service transformation.

Agility and technology

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of having a public service that is more agile, more collaborative and better equipped to support Canadians in times of uncertainty. In dealing with changes that affected the work environment, LAC showed resilience, adaptability and flexibility. It made sure that its employees had the equipment and tools they needed to do their work from home. Modern and reliable infrastructure is now in place to support this new working environment. Over the course of the year, LAC continually improved its services and technology resources to facilitate virtual collaboration among its employees and to ensure that its systems could respond to growing demand.

Cloud computing

LAC continued to implement its data strategy and new cloud computing technology. These operations will make it possible to more effectively meet data security, privacy protection and open information requirements. The latter also includes a user-centred approach to provide value-added products and services and to enhance data management and analysis skills and knowledge. LAC has also begun discussions with other departments that are dealing with similar challenges in order to explore cloud computing solutions.

Workplace safety and wellness

LAC has developed procedures and taken steps to make its worksites safe for employees when they return to them. Throughout the pandemic, it has communicated regularly with staff to inform them of new procedures and measures taken to ensure their safety and draw their attention to available resources and tools for promoting their wellness. The wellness committee organized events to deal with isolation. Training, information and tool-sharing sessions explored the following themes: living with uncertainty and helping oneself to overcome the pandemic, attitudes at work, ergonomics and the Canada Labour Code for managers.

LAC also promoted safe, healthy and respectful workplaces. Its new action plan supports its 2020–2022 Workplace Wellness Strategy. This strategy focuses on five components enabling the entire organization to progress toward this culture of workplace wellness: management, prevention, intervention, improvement and evaluation. Its purpose is to implement a culture of workplace wellness in order to maintain a healthy organization that can achieve its objectives while addressing changing environmental factors.

The revised Canada Labour Code (Bill C-65) regarding harassment and violence and the new Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations came into effect on January 1, 2021. The Code introduces several changes to legislative, regulatory and political frameworks that govern federal workplaces. LAC has set up a diversified working group to implement the requirements of this new legislation. This working group, which reports to a policy committee, participated in the development of a workplace harassment and violence prevention policy. It identified the relevant training needed by employees and managers, and it provided them with reference tools, such as emergency and support measures. The risk factors that can contribute to workplace harassment and violence as well as the prevention measures put in place were also identified.

Recruiting and maintaining a diversified, productive and competent labour force

LAC continued to implement its 2019–2022 Strategic Plan for People Management, which supports the achievement of its strategic and operational objectives. Numerous action plans arise from it, including the 2019–2022 Diversity and Employment Equity Action Plan. In this plan, LAC identifies various strategies and activities that support the recommendations made in the Final Report of the Joint Union/Management Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion (Building a Diverse and Inclusive Public Service) as well as the legislative obligations stemming from the Employment Equity Act. To promote a diversified labour force, LAC has also developed a recruitment and employee retention strategy for employees who identify as members of First Nations, Inuit or members of the Métis Nation.

While continuing to maintain appointments based on merit and impartiality, LAC is promoting access to pools of pre-qualified candidates to facilitate the prompt hiring of talented people from across Canada. This increased agility means that the organization’s needs can be met more effectively.

LAC continued to implement its Official Languages Action Plan 2019–2022, which provides for compliance with its obligations concerning official languages in the workplace, communications and services to the public. It continues to inform employees and managers of their rights and responsibilities regarding official languages, whether they work on site or remotely.

To meet the new requirements of the Accessible Canada Act, LAC has set up a working group on accessibility, chaired by the Co-Champion for Workplace Accessibility. The working group proposed an interim action plan that identifies targeted measures and permanent measures, along with initiatives and a schedule.

A new learning path has been established for all LAC employees to help them acquire knowledge and skills. It specifies a certain number of mandatory training sessions, focusing mainly on issues of diversity, harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

Real property and workspace management

LAC completed phases 1 and 2 of its Real Property Master Plan. Since 2016, LAC has become the owner, manager and operator of five specialized facilities across Canada. One building is under construction (the new preservation facility in Gatineau), and another is nearing construction (the Ottawa Public Library and LAC joint facility). The master plan will be used to identify and plan the institution’s future needs for storing its collection as well as to assess the current real property portfolio and its performance in terms of the targets set by government regarding policy and sustainable development. Completion of Phase 3 and development of a strategic action plan are on the agenda for 2021–22.

Given the imperatives stemming from the pandemic, the plans to reorganize, modernize and optimize space in accordance with the principles established by the GCworkplace initiative have been temporarily suspended. Priority has been given to accommodating and implementing all of the necessary measures for ensuring the health, safety and well-being of employees. It is imperative that many employees return to the worksites so that LAC can fulfill its legal obligations, particularly in terms of access to information and privacy requests and the legal deposit program.

Project management

In December 2020, LAC adopted a Project Governance Framework. Its objective is to implement best practices in project management and thereby promote the achievement of results. It ensures that project governance and oversight are efficient, provides teams with support to plan, implement and complete projects, and makes provision for a phased approach with validation points for major projects where the total estimated cost is $1 million or more.

Budgetary financial resources (dollars)
2020–21 Main Estimates2020–21 Planned spending2020–21 Total authorities available for use2020–21 Actual spending (authorities used)2020–21 Difference (Actual spending minus Planned spending)

The difference between the $40 million in total authorities available for use and the $39.7 million in actual spending is negligible.

Human resources (full-time equivalents)
2020–21 Planned full-time equivalents2020–21 Actual full-time equivalents2020–21 Difference (Actual full-time equivalents minus Planned full-time equivalents)

Analysis of trends in spending and human resources

Actual expenditures

Figure 1. Departmental spending trend (dollars)
Organizational spending trend, see text version below
Figure 1: Departmental spending trend (dollars) – text version
Fiscal yearsStatutoryVotedTotal

It illustrates the trend in LAC expenditures, in dollars, over a period of six years, from 2018–19 to 2023–24 (three fiscal years of actual expenditures and three fiscal years of planned spending based on LAC’s 2021–22 Departmental Plan).

LAC’s expenditure profile has evolved mainly because of the availability of funding for the following initiatives:

  • preservation of Indigenous languages and cultures, announced in Budget 2017 (2017–18 to 2020–21);
  • acquisition, processing, preservation and accessibility of the Right Honourable Stephen Harper’s private records (2017–18 to 2021–22);
  • support for the Government of Canada’s response to the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) Purge Class Action Settlement (2018–19 and 2019–20); and
  • partnership between LAC, Ottawa Public Library and the City of Ottawa for the definition and implementation phases (2018–19 to 2024–25) of the joint facility project, as well as ongoing operating costs (2024–25 and subsequent years).

The significant increase in planned spending in 2022–23 is mainly due to the initial payment that will be made for the substantial completion of the construction of the new building designed for the preservation of analog documents in Gatineau, Quebec.

Budgetary performance summary for Core Responsibilities and Internal Services (dollars)
Core Responsibilities and Internal Services2020–21 Main Estimates2020–21 Planned spending2021–22 Planned spending2022–23 Planned spending2020–21 Total authorities available for use2018–19 Actual spending (authorities used)2019–20 Actual spending (authorities used)2020–21 Actual spending (authorities used)
Acquiring and preserving documentary heritage71,314,96971,314,96969,028,93868,358,64275,404,72057,035,19761,038,31358,177,125
Providing access to documentary heritage32,045,71132,045,71141,578,45741,692,63536,101,65228,925,61633,359,68232,504,503
Internal Services33,251,42333,251,42333,279,15033,393,08739,997,71538,669,35139,956,20039,697,578

In 2020–21, the $14.9 million difference between the $136.6 million planned spending published in the 2020–21 Departmental Plan and total authorities of $151.5 million is mainly due to additional funding received during the year, as follows:

  • an increase of $7 million related to the carry-forward of the operating budget and the carry-forward of the capital budget;
  • an increase of $4.5 million related to salary adjustments following the ratification of collective agreements; and
  • a net increase of $3.2 million associated with funding harmonization to support the long-term strategy for the real property portfolio.

Actual human resources

Human resources summary for Core Responsibilities and Internal Services (full time equivalents)
Core Responsibilities and Internal Services2018–19 Actual full-time equivalents2019–20 Actual full-time equivalents2020–21 Planned full-time equivalents2020–21 Actual full-time equivalents2021–22 Planned full-time equivalents2022–23 Planned full-time equivalents
Acquiring and preserving documentary heritage393424408397393389
Providing access to documentary heritage275314285278266266
Internal Services287303298284298298

Expenditures by vote

For information on LAC’s organizational voted and statutory expenditures, consult the Public Accounts of Canada 2020–2021.

Government of Canada spending and activities

Information on the alignment of LAC’s spending with the Government of Canada’s spending and activities is available in the GC InfoBase.

Financial statements and financial statements highlights

Financial statements

LAC’s financial statements (unaudited) for the year ended March 31, 2021, are available on the departmental website.

Financial statements highlights

The highlights presented in this section are taken from LAC's financial statements and are prepared on a full accrual basis. These financial statements have been prepared using Government of Canada accounting policies, which are based on Canadian public sector accounting standards.

The variance between the figures provided in other sections of this report, which were prepared on an expenditure basis, and the figures that follow, which were prepared on an accrual basis, relates to accrual entries such as the recognition of services without charge received from other government departments and the acquisition of capital assets and related amortization expenses, as well as to accrued liability adjustments.

Condensed Statement of Operations (unaudited) for the year ended March 31, 2021 (dollars)
Financial information2020–21 Planned resultstable 5 note 12020–21 Actual results2019–20 Actual resultsDifference (2020–21 Actual results minus 2020–21 Planned results)Difference (2020–21 Actual results minus 2019–20 Actual results)
Total expenses141,788,953149,000,482151,537,1857,211,529(2,536,703)
Total revenues645,0003,033,4151,299,5392,388,4151,733,876
Net cost of operations before government funding and transfers141,143,953145,967,067150,237,6464,823,114(4,270,579)
Table 5 Notes
Note 1

The future-oriented statement of operations and associated notes for fiscal year 2020–21 are available on LAC’s website.

Return to table 5 note 1 referrer

The net decrease of $2.5 million in actual expenditures is mainly attributable to various initiatives such as the preservation of Indigenous languages and cultures; the administration of the Government of Canada’s response to the LGBT Purge Class Action Settlement; the processing of the private archives of the Right Honourable Stephen Harper; and the Real Property Portfolio, including the construction of a new building in Gatineau for the preservation of analog archival holdings, and the partnership between LAC, Ottawa Public Library and the City of Ottawa for a joint facility project.

The increase of $1.7 million of total revenues is mainly attributable to a collaboration with the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence for the administration of the Government of Canada’s response to the Sexual Misconduct Class Action Settlement.

Condensed Statement of Financial Position (unaudited) as of March 31, 2021 (dollars)
Financial information2020–20212019–2020Difference (2020–21 minus 2019–20)
Total net liabilities107,909,15363,532,15544,376,998
Total net financial assets13,695,86913,617,71478,155
Departmental net debt94,213,28449,914,44144,298,843
Total non-financial assets194,316,669144,757,74849,558,921
Departmental net financial position100,103,38594,843,3075,260,078

The increase in net liabilities is explained by the new liability representing the costs incurred by the public-private partner for the construction of the new state-of-the-art preservation facility in Gatineau, to meet LAC’s requirements for additional archival storage capacity.

The increase in net non-financial assets stems mainly from the construction project of the new preservation facility in Gatineau and the betterments to LAC’s special storage facilities. Once the betterments and the construction are completed, these investments will be expensed over the useful life of the assets.

Corporate information

Organizational profile

Appropriate minister: The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage

Institutional head: Leslie Weir, Librarian and Archivist of Canada

Ministerial portfolio: Department of Canadian Heritage

Enabling instrument: Library and Archives of Canada Act, S.C. 2004, c. 11

Year of incorporation: 2004

Acronym: LAC

Raison d’être, mandate and role: who we are and what we do

"Raison d’être, mandate and role: who we are and what we do" is available on LAC’s website.

For more information on the department’s organizational mandate letter commitments, see the Minister’s mandate letter.

Operating context

Information on the operating context is available on LAC’s website.

Reporting framework

LAC’s Departmental Results Framework and Program Inventory of record for 2020–21 are shown below.

LAC’s Departmental Results Framework and Program Inventory of record for 2019–2020 are shown below
LAC’s Departmental Results Framework and Program Inventory of record for 2020–21 – text version

This image depicts LAC’s Departmental Results Framework and Program Inventory for 2020—21. The two Core Responsibilities are presented at the highest level above, accompanied by their Departmental Results and the indicators used to measure them. The programs and their indicator are presented at the level below.


Supporting information on the Program Inventory

Financial, human resources and performance information for LAC’s Program Inventory is available in GC InfoBase.

Supplementary information tables

The following supplementary information tables are available on LAC’s website:

Federal tax expenditures

The tax system can be used to achieve public policy objectives through the application of special measures such as low tax rates, exemptions, deductions,rals and credits. The Department of Finance Canada publishes cost estimates and projections for these measures each year in the Report on Federal Tax Expenditures. This report also provides detailed background information on tax expenditures, including descriptions, objectives, historical information and references to related federal spending programs as well as evaluations and GBA Plus of tax expenditures.

Organizational contact information

Mailing address:
Library and Archives Canada
550 de la Cité Boulevard
Gatineau, Quebec J8T 0A7

Telephone: 613-996-5115 or 1-866-578-7777 (toll-free in Canada and the United States)
Fax: 613-995-6274

Appendix: definitions

appropriation (crédit)

Any authority of Parliament to pay money out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

budgetary expenditures (dépenses budgétaires)

Operating and capital expenditures; transfer payments to other levels of government, organizations or individuals; and payments to Crown corporations.

core Responsibility (responsabilité essentielle)

An enduring function or role performed by a department. The intentions of the department with respect to a Core Responsibility are reflected in one or more related Departmental Results that the department seeks to contribute to or influence.

Departmental Plan (plan ministériel)

A report on the plans and expected performance of an appropriated department over a three year period. Departmental Plans are tabled in Parliament each spring.

departmental priority (priorité)

A plan or project that a department has chosen to focus and report on during the planning period. Priorities represent the things that are most important or what must be done first to support the achievement of the desired departmental results.

Departmental Result (résultat ministériel)

A consequence or outcome that a department seeks to achieve. A departmental result is often outside departments’ immediate control, but it should be influenced by program-level outcomes.

Departmental Result Indicator (indicateur de résultat ministériel)

A quantitative measure of progress on a departmental result.

Departmental Results Framework (cadre ministériel des résultats)

A framework that connects the department’s core responsibilities to its departmental results and departmental result indicators.

Departmental Results Report (rapport sur les résultats ministériels)

A report on a department’s actual accomplishments against the plans, priorities and expected results set out in the corresponding Departmental Plan.

experimentation (expérimentation)

The conducting of activities that seek to first explore, then test and compare the effects and impacts of policies and interventions in order to inform evidence-based decision-making, and improve outcomes for Canadians, by learning what works, for whom and in what circumstances. Experimentation is related to, but distinct from innovation (the trying of new things), because it involves a rigorous comparison of results. For example, using a new website to communicate with Canadians can be an innovation; systematically testing the new website against existing outreach tools or an old website to see which one leads to more engagement, is experimentation.

full time equivalent (équivalent temps plein)

A measure of the extent to which an employee represents a full person year charge against a departmental budget. For a particular position, the full time equivalent figure is the ratio of number of hours the person actually works divided by the standard number of hours set out in the person’s collective agreement.

gender-based analysis plus (GBA Plus) (analyse comparative entre les sexes plus [ACS Plus])

An analytical process used to assess how diverse groups of women, men and gender-diverse people experience policies, programs and services based on multiple factors including race ethnicity, religion, age, and mental or physical disability.

government-wide priorities (priorités pangouvernementales)

For the purpose of the 2020–21 Departmental Results Report, those high-level themes outlining the government’s agenda in the 2019 Speech from the Throne, namely: Fighting climate change; Strengthening the middle class; Walking the road of reconciliation; Keeping Canadians safe and healthy; and Positioning Canada for success in an uncertain world.

horizontal initiative (initiative horizontale)

An initiative where two or more federal organizations are given funding to pursue a shared outcome, often linked to a government priority.

non budgetary expenditures (dépenses non budgétaires)

Net outlays and receipts related to loans, investments and advances, which change the composition of the financial assets of the Government of Canada.

performance (rendement)

What an organization did with its resources to achieve its results, how well those results compare to what the organization intended to achieve, and how well lessons learned have been identified.

performance indicator (indicateur de rendement)

A qualitative or quantitative means of measuring an output or outcome, with the intention of gauging the performance of an organization, Program, policy or initiative respecting expected results.

performance reporting (production de rapports sur le rendement)

The process of communicating evidence based performance information. Performance reporting supports decision making, accountability and transparency.

plan (plan)

The articulation of strategic choices, which provides information on how an organization intends to achieve its priorities and associated results. Generally a plan will explain the logic behind the strategies chosen and tend to focus on actions that lead to the expected result.

planned spending (dépenses prévues)

For Departmental Plans and Departmental Results Reports, planned spending refers to those amounts presented in Main Estimates.

A department is expected to be aware of the authorities that it has sought and received. The determination of planned spending is a departmental responsibility, and departments must be able to defend the expenditure and accrual numbers presented in their Departmental Plans and Departmental Results Reports.

program (programme)

Individual or groups of services, activities or combinations thereof that are managed together within the department and focus on a specific set of outputs, outcomes or service levels.

program inventory (répertoire des programmes)

Identifies all the department’s programs and describes how resources are organized to contribute to the department’s core responsibilities and results.

result (résultat)

A consequence attributed, in part, to an organization, policy, program or initiative. Results are not within the control of a single organization, policy, program or initiative; instead they are within the area of the organization’s influence.

statutory expenditures (dépenses législatives)

Expenditures that Parliament has approved through legislation other than appropriation acts. The legislation sets out the purpose of the expenditures and the terms and conditions under which they may be made.

target (cible)

A measurable performance or success level that an organization, Program or initiative plans to achieve within a specified time period. Targets can be either quantitative or qualitative.

voted expenditures (dépenses votées)

Expenditures that Parliament approves annually through an Appropriation Act. The Vote wording becomes the governing conditions under which these expenditures may be made.

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