Government Records Reappraisal Program

Background

  • Archives and libraries conduct due diligence from time to time by reappraising legacy documents or weeding legacy publications and maps.
  • The Government Records Initiatives Division (GRID) in Archives Branch is in the third year of the Renfrew Reappraisal Project. The project is on time and on budget. It was well received by the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) External Advisory Committees in May 2019.
  • The current driver is the new building (G2) which is to house documentation of enduring value only. LAC desires optimal use of the new space for those government holdings currently being stored in our Renfrew facility.
  • This in-depth multi-year project has produced enormous benefits for LAC. It is developing towards a reappraisal program with plans beyond the Renfrew project, although it is primarily funded with year-by-year O&M funding. Only six FTEs are permanent.
  • With the growing knowledge base and skills accrual, we are developing an ongoing systematic reappraisal program to examine our holdings. We apply existing disposition tools and document this process thoroughly.
  • The federal government records in Renfrew date primarily from the 1960s to the 1980s when LAC acquired many records on “selective retention”—or “pending final appraisal.” We are examining approximately 225,000 containers of textual records, including ledgers, and 1.5 million maps and plans and various other media, including photos.
  • The budget is approximately $525,000–590,000 (O&M temporary funds) annually and six FTEs (permanent funds).
  • Approximately 16% of the textual records reviewed so far have been found to have no archival value. Another 10% have been identified for future projects or selection. Of the maps and plans reviewed, 42% have been identified as having no archival value. For records that have no archival value, our procedures dictate that we offer them back to the Government department that created them (usually they are not interested).
  • The Project also creates better finding aids for records found to have archival value.
  • For legacy published maps found in Government holdings, we work with Published Heritage Branch (PH) to weed out maps according to established criteria, and transfer the remaining maps to PH. Unwanted maps are sometimes offered to other libraries (PH procedure).
  • The process involves confirming decisions with portfolio archivists in GAD and with creating departments, as well as performing ATIP and Litigation Hold checks before removing any records.
  • A future reappraisal project will review holdings in GPC before the move to G2. A 27-month plan has been prepared. O&M funding will be required.
  • Another future reappraisal project (plan underway) will review our legacy digital holdings. O&M funding will be required.

Considerations

  • LAC will only retain/move records with archival value.
  • There has been no positive or negative media coverage so far. There is the potential for negative media coverage as reappraisal/removal of records is always seen as risky. Media lines have been prepared.
  • It is costly and poor stewardship to retain/move records that have no archival value.

Key public messages

  • It is important that LAC’s collection align with our mandate and that we maintain a succinct collection.
  • It is important that reappraisal be objective, consistent and systematic, and that we document thoroughly. We work with proven disposition tools and with portfolio experts.

SME:

Tina Lloyd, Reappraisal, Government Records Initiatives Division
Email: tina.lloyd@canada.ca
Tel: 613-617-8626

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