Opening the vaults: 10 years of Block Review

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Block Review initiative. This initiative has made more than 50 million pages of restricted archival Canadian government records open to the public for consultation. Over the years, this initiative has been recognized nationally and internationally for being particularly innovative.

What exactly is the Block Review? The purpose of this process is to open up large numbers of archival government records to the public.

How does it work? When LAC receives a series of government records, they are often restricted; that is, the public cannot consult them. Anyone that would like to consult them has to file an Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) request.

Block Review is a proactive, risk-based approach to the opening of records. Block Review employees sample records from a particular fonds and assess them to determine whether they are a good fit for a block review. Samples are reviewed in light of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act, as well as other criteria. Once the sampling conclusions are finalized, recommended, and approved, records are opened and made available for consultation. In short, the Block Review initiative makes available large volumes of documents for consultation.

The Block Review team has prioritized series of records important to Canadians. For example, records documenting Canada’s military history and records identified by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada were opened for consultation.

You can consult the index of records opened through LAC’s block review initiative. You can search these records in Collection Search. You can also ask us a question.

 Happy anniversary to the Block Review initiative and kudos to this hard-working team!

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