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Highlights from Library and Archives Canada’s 2014-15 Report on Plans and Priorities

March 9, 2014

On March 6, 2014, Tony Clement, President of the Treasury Board, tabled the 2014-15 Reports on Plans and Priorities for 92 government departments and agencies, including Library and Archives Canada (LAC).

Below are some highlights from Library and Archives Canada’s 2014-15 Report on Plans and Priorities, notably LAC’s priorities for the fiscal year and the planned key activities for each program.

Organizational Priorities

In recent years, LAC has taken advantage of the opportunities for innovation created by the rapid growth in digital technologies to refocus on its mandate, clarify how it wants to deliver on that mandate, and identify the best means and strategies for doing so. 2013–14 was an intense period of implementing the strategies developed in previous years. LAC developed new policy frameworks to guide its operations.

In 2014–15, LAC will continue to innovate and will consolidate its approach in order to provide even more tangible results for Canadians. LAC intends to leverage the concrete actions that have been taken in recent years to keep up with the rate of growth demanded by technological and societal evolution. To help with this and to contribute to the ongoing improvement of the institution, progress will be monitored on a regular basis by means of a series of performance indicators and a corporate project management office.

LAC is focusing on the commitments set out in its Business Plan 2013–2016 and in the Report on Plans and Priorities (RPP) 2013-14, and on the achievement of the following priorities:

  1. Acquire information resources that represent Canadian society;
  2. Improve documentary heritage preservation in analogue and digital formats;
  3. Offer quality services to Canadians and ensure access to as much content as possible using digital technologies;
  4. Adopt a more collaborative approach with documentary heritage communities in order to carry out LAC’s mandate;
  5. Develop the infrastructure and the strategies required to ensure documentary heritage management in the 21st century.

Organizational Priority 1: Acquire information resources that represent Canadian society.

Why is this a priority?

LAC has a new approach to evaluating and acquiring information resources that enables it to thoroughly document Canadian society. The framework for this new approach was defined in 2012–13, and the main components were implemented in 2013–14. LAC is now able to proactively identify records of national interest that it would like to acquire, regardless of their form or source.

More specifically, with regard to the management and acquisition of government information resources, LAC is continuing to implement the Government of Canada’s Directive on Recordkeeping through its Disposition and Recordkeeping Program. The purpose of this program is to give federal departments and agencies the disposition tools they need to identify and manage their records of business value. This also enables LAC to acquire government information resources that are of enduring value to Canadians.

Plans for meeting this priority

  • Acquire documentary heritage that is relevant to Canadians.
  • Put in place service standards for all evaluation and acquisition activities in order to maintain high quality standards for the services offered to creators, donors and departments.
  • Continue to develop and implement the technological infrastructure that will enable LAC to acquire digital content.
  • Work with federal government institutions to help them manage their information effectively and to facilitate the transfer of information resources of enduring value to LAC.

Organizational Priority 2: Improve documentary heritage preservation in analogue and digital formats.

Why is this a priority?

LAC manages both its analogue and digital holdings in an integrated fashion. This means that, instead of one digital collection and one analogue collection, there is a single collection accessible in a variety of formats.

Given the numerous challenges, such as the fragility of certain older formats and the gradual disappearance of technologies previously used to access content, LAC must use various techniques and strategies to preserve the integrity of the content for which it is responsible. LAC uses restoration, environmental controls for storage, migration to durable media and, increasingly, digitization. The purpose of using these methods is to preserve access to LAC’s holdings for current and future generations.

Plans for meeting this priority

  • Continue to implement the multi-year strategy for migrating at-risk audiovisual recordings in order to preserve their content.
  • Continue to digitize LAC’s holdings by making full use of its own capacity and by leveraging partners’ capacity to preserve and make accessible even more digital content.
  • Complete the transfer of analogue material relating to the Second World War and part of the published heritage collection to the new high-density storage facility.

Organizational Priority 3: Offer quality services to Canadians and ensure access to as much content as possible using digital technologies.

Why is this a priority?

In a digital world where expectations regarding access to holdings are high, LAC will increase its efforts to ensure the best possible access to its information resources and will consolidate its services so that they remain relevant and responsive to the needs of its clients. This involves two key activities: digitizing and describing content.

Digital technologies greatly multiply access to documentary heritage because, regardless of where they are located, users have access to content at their convenience. To be accessible in digital format, analogue content must first be digitized and then described, and must be exempt from any access restrictions.

Plans for meeting this priority

  • Increase access to documentary heritage nationally through digitization initiatives and collaborative exhibitions, increased online content and search tools, and renewed services that facilitate access.
  • Digitize 640,000 service records of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in order to contribute to the commemoration of the First World War, while laying the foundation for LAC’s contribution to the Government of Canada’s Commemoration Events agenda.
  • Provide direct support to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) by providing specialized work areas and reference and consultation services to make it easier to search for and consult documents useful to the Commission’s work.
  • Renew the National Union Catalogue (NUC) so that this critical resource for Canadian libraries, which contains over 25 million bibliographic records, can leverage new technological advances and fully meet clients’ needs.

Organizational Priority 4: Adopt a more collaborative approach with documentary heritage communities in order to carry out LAC’s mandate.

Why is this a priority?

LAC and other memory institutions such as libraries, archives, museums and other similar organizations are taking advantage of innovative ways of doing business to meet the needs of Canadians. LAC is working with its partners and interested communities by sharing information, discussing common issues, and making use of each other’s strengths.

Plans for meeting this priority

  • Implement a policy on collaboration that can be used in developing collaborative agreements on the sharing of resources, risks and benefits.
  • Continue working with communities of practice to discuss strategic issues and research matters and to define the competencies of tomorrow, in particular in the area of digital documentary heritage management.
  • Contribute to the Government of Canada’s initiatives to commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War in 1914, and to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation in 2017.

Organizational Priority 5: Develop the infrastructure and the strategies required to ensure documentary heritage management in the 21st century.

Why is this a priority?

To manage documentary heritage in the 21st century, LAC must automate a number of operations and make increased use of digital technologies. For this reason, the digital transformation that LAC has undertaken in recent years needs the support of appropriate infrastructure and tools.

Despite the increased use of digital technologies, LAC’s information resources are for the most part in analogue format. When placed end to end, this part of the collection represents nearly 460 linear kilometres. To respond to growing expectations and the need to optimize resources, LAC must find innovative solutions in order to ensure sustainable management of the spaces used to preserve information resources.

Plans for meeting this priority

  • Continue the development and implementation of technological infrastructure so that LAC’s key business processes (from acquiring content to accessing it) are managed in an integrated manner in a digital environment.
  • Continue the development of a long-term infrastructure strategy in order to meet future requirements for space and the use of information resources.
  • Continue to regularly monitor the implementation of key projects and operational performance by means of performance indicators, rigorous project management, and effective internal governance.

Risks

In its corporate risk profile, LAC has identified four strategic risks that could have a direct impact on the institution’s ability to achieve its mandate. These four risks, and the proposed mitigation strategies, are as follows:

Risk 1: That documentary heritage of national interest is not acquired

Risk Response Strategy:

  • Apply a new approach to evaluation and acquisition that is based on a policy framework and a variety of instruments that offer objective criteria and a clear procedure for determining what should be acquired to document Canadian society.
  • Automate research methods for identifying relevant current topics that should be documented.
  • Collaborate with documentary heritage institutions to discuss which institution is best suited for acquiring certain content, according to each institution’s mandate.

Risk 2: That documentary heritage is not preserved for future generations

Risk Response Strategy:

  • Develop and implement a stewardship policy framework and a suite of related policy instruments.
  • Store as much of the collection as possible in locations that offer suitable preservation conditions.
  • Develop the physical and technological infrastructure needed for the sustainable management of LAC’s collection.
  • Implement the strategy for migrating at-risk audiovisual recordings to new durable formats.
  • Digitize information resources (including motion pictures) in order to create digital master copies.
  • Collaborate with partners to support the digitization process.
  • Maintain specialized expertise in the treatment and handling of information resources preserved by LAC in various formats.

Risk 3: That documentary heritage is not accessible to Canadians

Risk Response Strategy:

  • Complete and implement the access policy framework and related policy instruments to ensure the availability, accessibility and searchability of documentary heritage.
  • Continue to implement the content digitization strategy by focusing on the digitization of the most frequently requested documents.
  • Continue the digitization project being carried out in partnership with Canadiana to digitize and post online nearly 40 million images.
  • Continue the digitization project being carried out with Ancestry to digitize nearly 1.3 million images.
  • Add new databases and improve existing ones in order to increase the amount of searchable information having to do with the history of immigration and cultural communities in Canada.
  • Continue to share content on LAC’s social network sites, namely through blogs, podcasts, Flickr, Facebook and Twitter, to reach a maximum number of clients and to make the collection available through a wide range of channels.
  • Develop new online resources and update existing ones on the First World War (including databases, guides and digital content) so that participants in the Lest We Forget Project and other researchers have better access to information about the soldiers who fought in that war.
  • Develop new online resources and update existing ones on Aboriginal heritage (such as research assistance tools that provide historical and geographic information about the various bands or communities and about the treaties).
  • Produce searchable bibliographic records for 20,000 historical publications.
  • Continue with the renewal of the AMICUS database, a free catalogue that provides access to the holdings of hundreds of libraries across Canada.

Risk 4: That Government of Canada information resources are not managed appropriately

Risk Response Strategy:

  • Implement the Disposition and Recordkeeping Program.
  • Develop comprehensive disposition coverage for the departments subject to the Library and Archives of Canada Act.
  • Develop generic recordkeeping tools.
  • Provide advice and guidance to departments.
  • Work with the central agencies to develop and implement recordkeeping tools.

Planning Highlights by Strategic Outcomes and Programs

Strategic Outcome 1: Current government information is managed to support government accountability

Program 1.2: Collaboration in the management of government records

In 2014–15, LAC will continue to implement its Disposition and Recordkeeping Program within the federal government. LAC will continue to develop recordkeeping tools and provide federal institutions with disposition instruments, advice and guidance to enable them to implement sound disposition and recordkeeping practices so that they are better able to manage their information resources of business value.

Key Activities for 2014-15:

  • Evaluate and roll out disposition instruments so as to provide, by 2016, comprehensive disposition coverage to the 297 federal institutions that are subject to the Library and Archives of Canada Act. Pursue negotiations with federal institutions that are not subject to the Library and Archives of Canada Act in order to ensure sound recordkeeping.
  • Continue to implement the new storage model for government information resources, through which LAC works with departments and agencies to help them dispose of their records of business value that are stored in the regional centres. In 2014–15, the focus will be on moving the post-war (post-1945) personnel records of Canadian Forces members to the regional service centre in Winnipeg.
  • Pursue dialogue with the network of federal government libraries in the context of LAC’s efforts to clarify its coordination role and review the services it provides.
  • Take a leadership role in government‑wide recordkeeping and information management initiatives, such as:
    • The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: LAC has the mandate to assist in the identification of government archival records that are deemed relevant to supporting the mandate of the Commission.
    • Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government: To provide quicker access to the material it acquires, LAC has added a clause to each new disposition authority whereby departments and agencies are to transfer their records of enduring value only once they are fully open and accessible.
    • The Arctic Council: The Council is an international organization composed of eight member countries, including Canada, which has assumed chairmanship from 2013 to 2015. LAC will pursue the launch of an archival system for standard records that will improve management and access to these records.

Strategic Outcome 2: Canada’s continuing memory is documented and accessible to current and future generations

Program 2.1: Documentation of Canadian society

In 2014–15, LAC will continue to apply its approach to the evaluation and acquisition of information resources that it has been developing over the past two years to thoroughly document Canadian society. LAC will focus primarily on improving the quality of the services provided to clients (creators, donors, publishers) and to federal departments involved in all processes for the evaluation and acquisition of information resources. To achieve this objective, LAC will implement service standards that are based on a performance analysis and best practices, and will continue its efforts to complete as many acquisitions as it can that are currently in progress.

LAC will make it easier to acquire digital records by setting up new virtual portals for transferring digital content and data. This will ensure the acquisition of material of interest created on the Web in order to build a heritage collection that reflects new documentary production methods.

Key Activities for 2014-15:

  • Acquire documentary heritage that is relevant to Canadians.
  • Develop and implement service standards to ensure the quality of all processes for evaluating, acquiring and processing information resources.
  • Continue to analyze private collections in the evaluation and acquisition process.
  • Continue with web harvesting so that key events and topics of interest to Canadians are documented for current and future generations.
  • Test the tools developed for the auto-capture of websites.
  • Continue to develop and implement the technological infrastructure that will enable LAC to acquire digital content.
  • Continue to automate the societal watch function to ensure the proactive identification of issues, individuals and events that should be documented.
  • Set up a team for the evaluation, acquisition and processing of specialized media (documentary art and photography, audiovisual materials, architecture, mapping, geospatial science, stamp collecting and rare books).

Program 2.2: Stewardship of documentary heritage

LAC will continue its efforts to preserve the ever-increasing quantity of information resources recorded on various media. The institution, with the help of its partners, will maintain the high pace of its digitization efforts in order to improve access to the information resources in its possession, while at the same time ensuring that the content is preserved in a sustainable manner. To ensure sound management of all the digital data for which LAC is responsible, the institution will continue the development and implementation of its technological infrastructure.

However, a large number of the information resources in LAC’s collection are recorded in analogue format (primarily on paper). The development of the long‑term infrastructure plan will make it possible to strategically anticipate infrastructure needs. In 2014–15, LAC plans to continue to consolidate and streamline the spaces it occupies in order to store its documents in adequate conditions.

LAC will also continue to implement its audiovisual migration strategy. This ten-year strategy, which began in 2009, is intended to minimize the risk of losing at-risk audio and video formats through the creation of new master copies on durable media.

Key Activities for 2014-15:

  • Pursue mass digitization projects in collaboration with partners for microfilms and content related to the First World War.
  • Continue to implement the audiovisual migration strategy and the migration strategy for unpublished content recorded on outdated digital media (such as diskettes and floppy disks).
  • Begin development of the transition plan for the migration of motion picture films, while LAC is in the process of moving from analogue reproduction to digitization.
  • Continue to transfer part of the published heritage collection and material from the Second World War to the new high‑density storage facility in Gatineau. This new building will bring together, in a single high-tech location, information resources currently being stored in less than optimal conditions.
  • Continue efforts to finalize the trusted digital repository, designed to be an integrated digital preservation infrastructure where digital documentary heritage can be identified, gathered, managed, preserved and made accessible in the long term.

Program 2.3: Access to documentary heritage

LAC recognizes that an increasing number of Canadians are accessing content of interest to them via the Internet and information technologies. For instance, LAC’s website is among the most popular of all federal departments and agencies, with an average of 1.5 million visits per month. In addition, an average of 1.4 million searches per month are conducted of the AMICUS catalogue.

Bolstered by this trend, LAC will continue to renew its services so that its clients have access to quality services and a maximum of online content. The institution will focus on a flexible and integrated approach that privileges digital access, an increase in the quantity of content available on its site and the sites of its partners.

Key Activities for 2014-15:

  • Increase access to documentary heritage nationally through digitization initiatives and collaborative exhibitions, increased online content and search aids, and renewed services that facilitate access to information resources.
  • Contribute to the commemoration of the First World War in 2014 and the celebration of the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation in 2017 by digitization of 640,000 service records of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, and by highlighting other documents that illustrate Canada’s participation in the First World War.
  • Provide direct support to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission by providing specialized work areas and reference and consultation services to make it easier to search for and consult documents useful to the Commission’s work.
  • Renew the National Union Catalogue (NUC) so that this resource, which contains over 25 million bibliographic records, can leverage new technological advances and fully meet clients’ needs.

Sub-program 2.3.1: Describe and contextualize documentary heritage

To be accessible to Canadians, information resources must be searchable using LAC search tools or external search engines such as Google. LAC will continue to describe as much content as possible, as quickly and as clearly as possible, in order to facilitate searches and access. To achieve this, LAC will use, also, descriptions provided by third parties such as publishers, creators and donors.

LAC will also create new search tools and instruments, and update existing ones, in order to facilitate content searches.

Key Activities for 2014-15:

  • Develop new online resources and update existing ones on the First World War (including databases, guides and digital content) so that participants in the Lest We Forget Project and other researchers have better access to information about the soldiers who fought in that war.
  • Develop new online resources and update existing ones on Aboriginal heritage (such as research assistance tools that provide historical and geographic information about the various bands or communities and about the treaties).
  • Add new databases and improve existing ones in order to increase the amount of searchable information having to do with the history of immigration and cultural communities in Canada.
  • Continue with the renewal of the National Union Catalogue, a free catalogue that provides access to the holdings of 1,300 libraries across Canada.

Sub-program 2.3.2: Promote and make available documentary heritage

LAC is conducting digitization initiatives jointly with its partners in order to broaden access to the collection across Canada and increase the amount of online content. LAC continues to organize and take part in various exhibitions and initiatives in collaboration with stakeholders to promote the collection across Canada.

LAC is also renewing its services to facilitate access to its information resources and is providing clients with access to more content that they can consult freely. LAC intends to make it easier to consult the most popular material, online and in its public offices at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa. Moreover, LAC will continue to create and post online digital toolkits and search tools to make it easier for clients to find information resources.

Key Activities for 2014-15:

  • Continue to implement the content digitization strategy by focusing on the digitization of the most frequently requested documents.
  • Continue the digitization projects being carried out to digitize and post online over 60 million images.
  • Continue to share content on LAC’s social network sites, namely through blogs, podcasts, Flickr, Facebook and Twitter, to reach a maximum number of clients and to make the collection available through a wide range of channels.
  • Develop new online resources and update existing ones on the First World War, Aboriginal heritage, and the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation.

Program 3.0: Internal Services

Internal services support the business sector in achieving its objective of serving Canadians by giving them access to the documentary heritage held by LAC.

Faced with the new expectations created by the rapid growth of digital technologies, LAC must remain at the forefront of change. The renewal of its technological infrastructure is the outcome of the reflection undertaken on how to ensure that the institution is able to fulfil its mandate as effectively and efficiently as possible in a digital environment. This new infrastructure will simplify how work is carried out by means of closer links among the various items of information about the collection.

LAC will continue to develop the policy instruments required to support its evaluation and acquisition, stewardship, and access policy frameworks, and its policy management framework. These policy instruments are vital to ensuring uniformity in the way that operations and procedures related to LAC’s mandate are conducted.

Key Activities for 2014-15:

  • Continue with the infrastructure renewal process in order to ensure sound management of LAC’s business information.
  • Continue to focus on the priorities of replacing older computer systems and developing the components of the enterprise architecture and operating model.
  • In partnership with Shared Services Canada, continue to implement the strategy designed to increase digital data management and storage capacity.
  • Comply with the Government of Canada’s information technology policies and priorities, such as the Email Transformation Initiative, the migration of the human resources management system, and the implementation of the new policy on the use of secure removable media.
  • Develop and implement a long‑term infrastructure strategy that meets space requirements for preservation and services. To that end, LAC will continue to consolidate and streamline its document storage spaces.
  • Continue to regularly follow up on the implementation of key projects and on operational performance by means of performance indicators, rigorous project management, and effective corporate governance.
  • Highlight research and work with the external research community to contribute to evidence-based decision making within LAC.
  • Continue to work towards achieving the key Blueprint 2020 objectives, as identified in the action plan and in the preliminary report submitted to the Clerk of the Privy Council.
  • Continue to implement the Treasury Board Directive on Performance Management at LAC and roll out the related tools.
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