Policy on Making Holdings Discoverable

1. Effective Date

This policy has been approved by Management Board of Library and Archives Canada and takes effect on December 9, 2013.

2. Application

The Policy on Making Holdings Discoverable applies to all discovery activities at LAC in all sectors. This policy aligns with the Access Policy Framework and is to be applied in conjunction with all associated policies, standards, guidelines and tools.

3. Definitions

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

4. Context

The digital environment is one of increasing complexity for documentary heritage institutions. The growing popularity of various search engines, social networking platforms, linked open data, and semantic web technologies has changed the way Canadians search for, discover and use information resources.

Canadians expect information resources to be easily discoverable online across a range of services and platforms. To address these changing expectations, libraries and archives are exploring new approaches to making information about cultural and historical content known beyond existing analogue discovery resources. Documentary heritage institutions are striving to make information about their holdings known through digital means, to adjust their service delivery models, and to make their content discoverable online. Given that Canadians expect a greater focus on new media platforms and mobile applications that support sharing and user contributions, documentary heritage institutions are leveraging not only their own websites, but also popular web services and other tools as they are developed.

Descriptive metadata is an essential component of making information resources discoverable. In the past, metadata supporting the discovery of documentary heritage was typically created by professionals within libraries and archives, often building on information generated by creators prior to transfer. Today, however, there are many potential additional sources of descriptive metadata, including users, publishers, and information systems that automatically generate metadata, such as full-text indexing, auto-tagging and auto-classification. It is in this context that documentary heritage institutions are shifting towards new ways of leveraging metadata created by others or generated by new technology, to make efficiencies and to enhance the discovery experience.

LAC works within existing Government of Canada legislation, regulations, and policies including, but not limited to: the Library and Archives of Canada Act (LAC Act), the Access to Information Act, the Official Languages Act, and the Privacy Act. See Appendix B for a list of relevant legislative, regulatory and policy instruments. 

5. Purpose

As set out in the LAC Act, the objects and powers of LAC include facilitating access to Canada’s documentary heritage and making that heritage known. In pursuit of this, a principle under its Access Policy Framework is that LAC makes all of its holdings digitally discoverable.This policy supports the framework by:

  • Ensuring that discoverability activities related to LAC holdings are effectively carried out, documented, evaluated, and managed as well as appropriately aligned with LAC’s mandate under the LAC Act;
  • Assigning clear roles and responsibilities pertaining to discoverability activities related to LAC holdings;
  • Setting out requirements for operational areas to establish discoverability standards and descriptive metadata standards to support discovery;
  • Assuring the provision of an appropriate infrastructure to support discovery.

6. Policy Statement

Documentary heritage holdings are discoverable when information about their existence, description, location and availability can be viewed. LAC ensures that documentary heritage in its holdings is discoverable by:

  • Creating descriptive metadata to provide optimal discovery;
  • Leveraging this descriptive metadata as well as user-created and publisher and donor-supplied metadata;
  • Optimizing discovery with a view to allowing users to discover documentary heritage resources digitally anywhere, at any time.

7. Policy Requirements

LAC ensures a corporate integrated approach to discovery, including descriptive metadata, through the following requirements:

7.1 Standards

Discoverability Standards

LAC makes its new and existing holdings digitally discoverable according to established procedures and recognized best practices.

Descriptive Metadata Standards

LAC supports interoperability by:

  • Ensuring that all incoming holdings are described according to a minimum, standard, core set of metadata elements;
  • Following national and international library and archival descriptive metadata standards; and
  • Allowing LAC metadata to be discovered and linked by other systems and platforms, including through the use of plain language and recognizable keywords.

7.2 Leadership

LAC participates as a leader in the development of national and international descriptive metadata standards.

7.3 Collaboration

LAC works collaboratively with creators, publishers, donors, government departments, users and others to make its holdings digitally discoverable. For example, as part of this collaboration, LAC communicates its metadata ingest requirements to publishers, donors and government departments. Additionally, LAC supports discovery of other documentary heritage institutions’ holdings. 

7.4 Infrastructure

LAC establishes and maintains an infrastructure that ensures that discovery is efficient and effective.

8. Roles and Responsibilities

Responsibilities are established in Section 7 of the Access Policy Framework. More specifically, the director general overseeing content access is responsible for the coordinated implementation of this policy. Discoverability is a shared responsibility across LAC. This policy complements the unique mandates of the DG responsible for communications, the DG responsible for innovation, and the DG responsible for acquisition.

9. Monitoring, Evaluation and Review

The director responsible for internal audit and evaluation may evaluate or audit this policy to measure its progress, effectiveness and the attainment of its objectives.

This policy will be reviewed every three years.  The review and monitoring of this policy is the responsibility of the director general responsible for policy. Review and monitoring will be conducted with the support of the operational areas responsible for discovery activities at LAC.

10. Consequences

Consequences for non-compliance with the Policy on Making Holdings Discoverable may include corrective measures from the Librarian and Archivist of Canada, Management Board, or the Assistant Deputy Minister-level manager responsible for discovery activities. Corrective measures may include any actions deemed appropriate and acceptable in the circumstances.

11. Inquiries

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

Appendix A: Definitions

Discovery [Repérage]
The activity of identifying the existence of an information resource and distinguishing it from other information resources and/or contextualizing it in relation to other information resources.

Metadata [Métadonnées]
Information used to contextualize, manage, preserve and provide access to documentary heritage.

Descriptive metadata [Métadonnées descriptives]

Information that establishes the intellectual content, access rights and physical attributes of documentary heritage to support its discovery.

Appendix B: Related Documents



LAC Policy Instruments

TBS Policy Instruments

Date modified: