Archival Information System Renewal (AISR) and MIKAN Clean-up—Business Process Analysis


  • An Archival Information System (AIS) is an integrated back-office solution intended to replace multiple Library and Archives Canada (LAC) aging mission-critical and at-risk applications for the management of information about LAC’s analog and digital archival holdings. This includes disparate information that currently lies outside its primary descriptive system (i.e. MIKAN).
  • LAC formally began the process of the Archival Information System (AIS) Renewal (information gathering phase) in 2018–19 with the publication of a Request for Information (RFI) in March 2019.
  • Building on lessons learned from Library System Renewal (LSR) and Digital Assets Management System (DAMS) projects, LAC also started (October 2018) the Archival Business Process analysis and High-level Data Modelling sub-project (funded by AIS Renewal). The goal of this sub-project is to better understand the current state of LAC archival business processes in order to prepare LAC for the procurement of a next-generation AIS that will address LAC’s needs for change management and digital transformation.
  • Building on lessons learned from LSR and DAMS projects, LAC also started (July 2018) the archival data clean-up corollary initiative (run under the auspices of Archives Branch and not funded by AIS Renewal). This corollary initiative will prepare LAC for eventual data migration.
  • LAC has begun to establish a formal AIS Renewal Project unit by staffing a full-time EX-01 who is knowledgeable about principles related to vocabulary control in the context of archival or bibliographic description, recent technologies related to artificial intelligence, and open linked data applicable to archival description. In addition to the EX-01, LAC has also added a senior project manager to the core RFI information gathering team (acting director, lead archivist, business analyst and subject matter experts).


  • Being at the information-gathering phase, details of AIS Renewal and procurement have not yet been widely socialized with LAC’s external stakeholders.
  • Through publication of the RFI and preliminary research on systems used at peer institutions around the world, LAC has developed a greater understanding of what solutions and approaches are available.
  • LAC’s next step is to decide what procurement approach it will take: Build, Buy or Borrow (Opensource). Moving forward, formal Government of Canada (GC) procurement rules will proscribe the level and type of external engagement and messaging possible.
  • Special TBS funding will be critical to keep this major procurement project and related sub-project(s) and initiatives moving forward.
  • Managing and balancing internal (LAC staff from across all sectors) and external stakeholder (Canadian archival community) expectations about AIS Renewal will be key challenges in the short and long term.
  • Internal stakeholders are engaged with AIS Renewal and expectations are very high regarding the procurement of a solution that meets their business and the institution’s needs.

Key public messages

  • LAC is currently reviewing its next steps for AIS Renewal following the close-out of the RFI process (July 2019).


Ilene McKenna, Lead Archivist
Charles Davis, Director, AISR and Special Projects


Ilene McKenna—613-864-1079
Charles Davis—613-282-7412

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