Raison d'être, mandate and role: who we are and what we do
Under the Library and Archives of Canada Act, the mandate of Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is as follows:
- to preserve the documentary heritage of Canada for the benefit of present and future generations;
- to serve as a source of enduring knowledge accessible to all, contributing to the cultural, social and economic advancement of Canada as a free and democratic society;
- to facilitate in Canada co-operation among the communities involved in the acquisition, preservation and diffusion of knowledge; and
- to serve as the continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions.
The Minister of Canadian Heritage is responsible for Library and Archives Canada.
Mandate and role
Three pillars support LAC's mandate to manage documentary heritage:
1. Acquiring and processing documentary heritage
LAC has the responsibility to acquire documentary heritage of historical value for Canadian society and government through a variety of mechanisms:
- Under the legal deposit requirements set out in the Library and Archives of Canada Act and the Legal Deposit of Publications Regulations, publishers are required to provide LAC with copies of their works published in Canada;
- LAC acquires documents of archival and historical value from Government of Canada departments and agencies. These documents are primarily political, legal or administrative records attesting to the decisions and activities of federal government institutions;
- LAC acquires documents of archival and historical value that are representative of Canadian society through various means, such as donations by individuals, non‑governmental organizations and the private sector, purchases or web harvesting.
Processing the collection involves presenting and contextualizing documentary heritage. This includes activities by which documents are described, organized and indexed to make them more accessible. The resulting databases, finding aids and other tools help users to discover LAC’s information resources.
2. Preserving documentary heritage
LAC has built a vast collection over the years, bringing together, notably, the collections of the former National Archives of Canada (established in 1872), and the former National Library of Canada (established in 1953). It brings together a variety of information resources of historical value, both analogue and digital, including books, government publications, documents, maps, documentary art, photographs, and audio and video recordings.
LAC is responsible for preserving this collection to ensure that it stands the test of time and remains accessible to future generations. It does this by relying on the expertise of its preservation specialists, as well as on the quality of its infrastructure, such as the Preservation Centre, Nitrate Film Preservation Facility and high-density storage facility.
3. Providing access to Canada's documentary heritage
LAC’s responsibilities with respect to documentary heritage enable Canadians to easily discover and consult resources to obtain information, improve their knowledge, and enrich their lives. To fulfill those responsibilities, LAC uses cutting-edge technologies and provides information on its collections through its website and social media.
LAC provides access to its information resources by:
- making information resources available to the public in digital format;
- providing online services and digital access to improve the accessibility of its content;
- providing on-site services in Ottawa at 395 Wellington Street, and at service points in Halifax, Winnipeg and Vancouver;
- contributing to events and exhibitions that enable the public to discover LAC’s collection locally, and in museums and cultural sites throughout Canada.
Operating context and key risks
Operating context: factors that affect our work
Major trends across government and memory institutions guide the activities and initiatives described in this 2018–19 Departmental Plan.
LAC responded to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call to action. To walk the path of reconciliation and foster positive collaboration, LAC creates and nurtures relationships with Indigenous peoples that are based on respect, trust, integrity and the recognition of their rights. To this end, LAC will ensure that its employees are trained in the history of the land that is now called Canada, and the implications of this history from the perspective of Indigenous communities. Additionally, LAC will support the efforts of Indigenous communities to identify, preserve and make available documents and oral archives to preserve and revitalize the cultures and traditional languages of Indigenous peoples.
LAC plays a key role in achieving the goals set out in the first pillar of the Creative Canada Policy Framework, which is to inspire professionals who contribute to the creation and production of work. To invest in Canadian culture, LAC will continue to support local documentary heritage communities through its contributions program.
To support the Government of Canada’s Canadian Digital Service initiative launched in 2017, LAC designs and develops simple, easy-to-use online services. Providing effective and interconnected tools is part of LAC’s public service strategy. For example, in 2018–19, the institution will launch a web platform so the public can transcribe and describe contents in LAC’s collection. The latter will become more identifiable, more accessible and more relevant to Canadians.
To contribute to the Open Government initiative, LAC, in collaboration with its network of partners, will support Canadian Heritage in implementing a related open-data approach to connect the collections of all museums and other memory institutions in Canada.
LAC and the country’s memory institutions are committed to fostering diversity by acquiring, preserving and providing access to a collection representative as well as providing equitable and inclusive services. In line with government-wide initiatives on workplace wellness and mental health, diversity and inclusion, LAC will continue its efforts to create and maintain a healthy and respectful work environment where respect and inclusiveness for all are the watchwords. As pointed out by Michael Wernick, the Clerk of the Privy Council, in the Twenty-Fourth Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service of Canada: “We know that diversity and inclusion make us stronger—the more employees feel included, the more likely they are to innovate and collaborate.”
Key risks: factors that may affect our ability to achieve our plans and achieve our outcomes
LAC has developed a Corporate Risk Profile for the 2018–2021 period. This profile describes the organizational risks and strategic impacts that have been identified, as well as the means put in place to mitigate them. An annual review of each mitigation measure allows monitoring of these risks. The following section presents these risks and their context.
1. LAC may not be able to adapt quickly enough to evolving technology, which could affect its ability to meet the needs of its users.
At a time when web users expect to find what they are looking for quickly and easily, their needs change as technology advances. LAC must take steps to provide the best customer experience possible. The risk lies mainly in the impact of technological changes, which are still unknown, and in LAC’s ability to adapt quickly.
2. LAC’s digital processes may not be seamlessly integrated, which could affect its efficiency.
In addition to having to adapt to technological changes, LAC must ensure that the systems and technological solutions put in place to acquire, preserve, manage and make available digital content are sufficiently integrated and compatible with each other. Systems harmonization requires a comprehensive and integrated view of all digital processes as well as sound planning that takes into account the particularities of each operation.
Table 1: Key risks
||Risk mitigation strategies
||Link to LAC’s core responsibilities
||Link to commitments of the mandate letter or government-wide and departmental priorities
|1. LAC may not be able to adapt to rapidly evolving technology, which could affect its ability to meet the needs of its users.
- Renovate the LAC website and integrate the online search function.
- Ensure that user needs are taken into account in the implementation of new technologies.
- Set up the new library management system. • Plan the renewal of LAC’s archival information system.
- Look for new financing options for technology investment.
- Work with Shared Services Canada to prioritize LAC's IT needs.
|Core Responsibilities 1 and 2
||Priorities 1 and 2
Preservation and revitalization of Indigenous languages and cultures
|2. LAC’s digital processes may not be seamlessly integrated, which could affect its efficiency.
- Implement LAC’s digital strategy and the strategy for a digital preservation program.
- Establish a LAC business architecture review committee to design a coherent organizational architecture.
- Build on the organizational capacity model and conduct a review of organizational capabilities
|Core Responsibilities 1 and 2