National, Provincial and Territorial Archivists’ Conference (NPTAC) Annual Report for 2015–2016
October 10, 2016
My dear colleagues:
On behalf of the National, Provincial and Territorial Archivists’ Conference (NPTAC), we are proud to share an update on our work to create an annual statistical profile of Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial archives.
NPTAC is a long-standing consultative body comprised of the heads of the 13 provincial and territorial archives, and the Librarian and Archivist of Canada. NPTAC meets bi-annually to discuss subjects of mutual interest, and undertake collaborative projects that support the goals and objectives of the Canadian Archival System.
NPTAC has been compiling and disseminating annual operating statistics for Canadian archives since the 1980s. The scope and depth of the reports have changed over the years.
In 2014, NPTAC struck a Working Group to renew the data collection process and to recommend a new approach. A new model was developed and tested by the NPTAC Working Group on Statistics in 2014–2015, and, as a result this process was fully implemented in 2015–2016 and it includes an annual update from NPTAC to the broader Canadian archival community.
Highlights from the 2015–2016 NPTAC Annual Report are provided below for your perusal.
Council of Provincial and Territorial Archivists
Librarian and Archivist of Canada
Library and Archives Canada
Statement by NPTAC Co-Chairs
As part of the National, Provincial and Territorial Archivists’ Conference (NPTAC), we are pleased to issue the co-chairs statement on the NPTAC Annual Report: Statistics and Analysis 2015–2016.
Patterns of Achievement
Notable accomplishments among NPTAC members for fiscal year 2015–2016 included a series of strategic envisioning processes that resulted in the publication of strategic plans. Additionally, NPTAC members emphasized outreach and the management of and access to records.
Through the creation of exhibitions (physical, virtual and travelling), many jurisdictions worked toward increasing outreach capacity. The upcoming fiscal year should be as busy as 2014-2015, based on the many exhibits that are being developed. Anniversaries and commemorative activities continue to encourage people to consult collections. For this reason, jurisdictions have undertaken commemorative initiatives focusing on the First World War and Canada’s 150th anniversary, in 2017.
A focus on record disposition, training, backlog reduction, and accessioning helped jurisdictions improve their records management, while updating their catalogues. This work also involved the development of toolkits and guides, which allowed for improved access to jurisdiction collections. Many jurisdictions also made a substantial number of acquisitions, including hospital records and art collections as well as the International Jazz Festival fonds (Quebec).
Jurisdictions continue to focus on physical infrastructure, including the construction and/or renovation of storage facilities and public spaces. There continues to be a clear and ongoing need for increased physical storage capacity across Canada and a need to develop suitable infrastructure. Jurisdictions are moving forward by sharing information as part of the Digital Curation Initiative, led by Library and Archives Canada, the Archives of Ontario and the Bibliothèque et archives nationales du Québec.
This year, some provinces, in particular Ontario and Nova Scotia, revised their jurisdictional legislations.
Measuring Our Contributions
Fiscal year 2015–2016 was the second year for the updated NPTAC Annual Report process, which was improved to enhance the quality of the quantitative data collected and produce some remarkable comparative data from the previous fiscal year.
Highlights this year include: 1) significant changes in the number of hours that students have worked or volunteered within each jurisdiction. While some jurisdictions saw notable increases (e.g., 81-170%) others noted a decrease (e.g., 24-81%) in the number of hours that students worked or volunteered; 2) a significant number of jurisdictions reported updating their disaster plans, ensuring that Canada’s documentary heritage is safeguarded in crisis situations; 3) all jurisdictions continue to contribute database records to an aggregator or union lists, regionally, nationally and thematically; 4) NPTAC members are making greater use of social media and working to improve their websites and interoperability with mobile devices. However, it is important to point out that, while more than half of members report using Facebook and Twitter, traditional media (i.e., radio, television and newspapers) continue to be the preferred method.
Our analysis of the 2015-2016 NPTAC Annual Report indicates three opportunities for collaboration among jurisdictions. First, opportunities still exist to further increase dialogue on the use of social media. Many jurisdictions have reported making improvements to their websites, and social media could be the next initiative. Secondly, there are opportunities for jurisdictions to collectively respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) calls to action and increase engagement with Indigenous communities. Some jurisdictions have already implemented strategies to increase the number of Indigenous archivists, while others have already published proposals for activities related to the TRC. Thirdly, there remain many opportunities for jurisdictions to increase information sharing on strategic planning, policy development and business plans.
Some key trends from 2015–2016 could have longer-term impacts on archival operations. The ongoing need to improve physical infrastructure (e.g., for both public spaces and for storage) will remain a priority in the coming years, as will the development of digital capacity in response to user demand for digitized content and digital records. Jurisdictions have noted the need to review work processes and implement protocols, policies and strategies to fulfill their mandates and meet user needs more efficiently.
Challenges and Priorities On Our Horizon
We would like to highlight a series of likely challenges and priorities for NPTAC members, based on the 2015-2016 NPTAC Annual Report. Increasing content development to support Canada’s 150th anniversary activities will be a key deliverable for all jurisdictions and will require the commitment of many resources as we move closer to 2017. In response to the TRC, jurisdictions have already begun investigating methods to partner and collaborate with Indigenous people in order to increase access to Indigenous holdings. Additionally, physical infrastructure improvements will continue to impact the work of some jurisdictions, through the planning, construction and moving phases of each project.
2015-2016 Co-Chairs: Ian Burnett, Chair, Council of Provincial and Territorial Archivists and Guy Berthiaume, Librarian and Archivist of Canada