Policy on Making Holdings Available

1. Effective Date

This Policy was approved by the Librarian and Archivist of Canada on April 2, 2013. Amendments were approved by Management Board on June 9, 2014, and full implementation will be phased in by April 1, 2017.

2. Application

The Policy on Making Holdings Available applies to LAC activities aimed at reducing restrictions that impede access to its holdings.

The Policy on Making Holdings Available does not apply to activities related to managing the use of documentary heritage, including copyright. Please see LAC’s policy instrument on copyright (forthcoming in 2015).

In very limited cases, exceptions may be made to this policy. LAC will describe the exceptions and their applicability in a Directive on Making Government of Canada Documentary Heritage Available. For clarity, these exceptions include:

  • Certain Government of Canada information subject to exemptions under the Access to Information Act;
  • Solicitor-client privilege;
  • Other exceptional situations as determined by LAC, including those situations mentioned below.

This Policy aligns with the Access Policy Framework and the Stewardship Policy Framework. It is to be applied in conjunction with associated directives, guidelines and tools.

While the policy takes effect on June 9, 2014, its application will be fully phased in by 2017 through collaboration with stakeholders.

3. Definitions

See Appendix A of the Access Policy Framework for most definitions. For additional definitions, see Appendix A of this policy.

4. Context

LAC works within existing Government of Canada and LAC legislation, regulations, and policies including, but not limited to, the LAC Act, the Access to Information Act, and the Privacy Act, and associated Privacy Regulations.

The Government of Canada has made Open Government a priority. The goal of the Open Government Action Plan is to establish a directive to “make providing information the ‘default′ approach in making government data and information available to Canadians.” To that end, Treasury Board has outlined several initiatives including “Opening Government of Canada Records”:

[This] commitment will increase access to archived federal documents held by Library and Archives Canada by removing restrictions on this information wherever possible, thereby making the preserved historical record of the Government of Canada more readily available to users. Additionally, [a] new mandatory policy [will be issued] to drive consistent document classification practices across the federal government to reduce the volume of classified documents in the future. (Canada's Action Plan on Open Government)

LAC’s mandated role, to make documentary heritage known to Canadians, involves providing access to information resources in its holdings and ensuring that access to future holdings is aligned with the Government’s approach.

The LAC Access Policy Framework represents a marked shift from LAC’s previous approach to its access mandate. Through making current and future holdings discoverable, available and accessible, LAC seeks to facilitate access to all of its holdings. As set out in the Framework, “LAC operates in a legal and policy context that will, in certain circumstances, temporarily delay or limit options for access to LAC’s documentary heritage holdings. LAC is committed to maximizing access and overcoming constraints wherever possible.” Therefore, a central policy commitment of LAC is to make all of its holdings available as soon as possible.

LAC works cooperatively and collaboratively with stakeholders and partners to enable the evaluation, acquisition, preservation, and access to information resources of enduring value to Canada. This includes working with creators and donors to find ways of maximizing the availability of the holdings.

5. Purpose

The purpose of this Policy is to maximize the amount of holdings, current and future, for which legal or policy restrictions do not impede access. It ensures that activities, and the roles and responsibilities that support them, are clearly understood and agreed upon by all staff, as well as effectively managed and evaluated.

6. Policy Statement

LAC uses a policy-based approach to ensure accountable and consistent direction for its mandated activities. To implement the principle of Availability as set out in the Access Policy Framework, LAC applies risk-informed practices to legal and policy restrictions on access.

This policy directs LAC activities aimed at making holdings available in such a way as to ensure their accountability, transparency, and consistency within the Government of Canada and to Canadians, through:

  • Established methods guided by this policy and the Access Policy Framework;
  • Effective communication of Availability policy principles and goals to LAC staff and external stakeholders;
  • Consistent documentation of all activities aimed at making holdings available.

This includes:

  • Risk-informed activities that encourage the creators of information resources to transfer documentary heritage to LAC which is already, or soon will be, free of restrictions; and
  • Risk-informed activities designed to minimize and, where possible, lift existing access restrictions on current holdings.

7. Policy Requirements

7.1 Lifting restrictions

7.1.1 Information resources not yet acquired by LAC

  • Risk-informed activities designed to minimize and, where possible, lift existing access restrictions on current holdings;
  • Non-published information of enduring value will, by default, be made available immediately upon transfer. Where the default is not possible due to legislative or policy restrictions, the information will be made available as soon as possible following transfer subject to risk-informed analysis, as set out in a Directive on Making Government of Canada Documentary Heritage Available.
  • Published material will be made available immediately upon transfer.
  • LAC will accept transfers of top secret or highly sensitive government information resources under specific conditions, as set out in a Directive on Making Government of Canada Documentary Heritage Available. Creating departments must mark and, where possible, declassify or downgrade the material prior to transfer.

7.1.2 Documentary heritage already in LAC holdings

  • Non-published documentary heritage will be made available as soon as possible through applying a risk-informed review process based on tested criteria.
  • Published documentary heritage is available.

7.1.3 Declassification of government information resources

  • LAC will declassify and/or downgrade material in accordance with TBS policy.

7.2 Collaboration with creators

LAC supports Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat in the development and implementation of policy and program initiatives aimed at making government information open and available to Canadians.

LAC encourages Government of Canada institutions to manage sensitive information as information resources of business value until such time as it can be made available. This should be done through implementation of the TBS Directive on Recordkeeping and application of LAC tools for recordkeeping.

LAC encourages private creators to avoid imposing restrictions on access upon transfer and works with donors to remove restrictions as quickly as possible.

7.3 Respect for privacy

Protection of privacy will be respected in both public and private fonds. LAC will continue to uphold its obligations under the Privacy Act through:

  • Requiring government departments to identify the presence of personal information in information resources transferred to LAC;
  • Reviewing all identified information resources subject to the Privacy Act before making it available;
  • Applying its discretion under section 8(3) of the Privacy Act and the Regulations, as set out in Appendix A;
  • Applying a risk-informed approach to new and existing holdings based on the Privacy Act and Regulations.

7.4 Consistency of approach

LAC will endeavour to ensure that information made available in government fonds is also available where it exists in private fonds, and vice versa.

LAC works collaboratively with stakeholders towards a uniform, risk-informed approach to making holdings available.

LAC will act to make holdings available in a manner as consistent as possible across all types of information holdings.

8. Roles and Responsibilities

Responsibilities are laid out in the Access Policy Framework, section 7.

9. Monitoring, Evaluation and Review

Internal Audit and Evaluation, as part of its risk-based planning, may evaluate or audit this Policy.

This Policy will be reviewed every three years. Review and monitoring of this policy is the responsibility of the Director responsible for policy.

10. Consequences

Consequences for non-compliance with the Policy on Making Holdings Available and its associated guidelines and tools may include corrective measures from the Librarian and Archivist of Canada, Management Board, or the Assistant Deputy Minister for Acquisition. Corrective measures may include any actions deemed appropriate and acceptable in the circumstances.

11. Inquiries

Please address any questions about this policy to:
Director, Policy
Library and Archives Canada
550 de la Cité Boulevard
Gatineau, Québec K1A 0N4

Appendix A: Definitions

Information resources of business value [Ressources documentaires à valeur opérationnelle]
Published and unpublished materials, regardless of medium or form, which are created or acquired because they enable and document decision-making in support of programs, services and ongoing operations, and support departmental reporting, performance and accountability requirements.

Risk-informed [Approches éclairées par l’analyse du risque]
Risk-informed approaches take into account the potential risks associated with a specific corporate approach to a given activity.

Appendix B: Related Documents

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