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Audits and Evaluations

Results-based Management and Accountability Framework

For LAC's Management of the Documentary
Heritage of Interest to Canada
Program Activity 1.2

2.2 Objectives

The Library and Archives Canada collection consists of published and unpublished materials in a variety of formats. To access the contents of collections, they must first be acquired, described and stored/preserved. The Program Activity 1.2 is comprised of the three sub-activities:

2.1.1 Development of Collection (Sub-Activity 1.2.1): Selecting and acquiring documentary heritage

Under sub-activity, Canadian publications, archival materials, governmental and private collections of national significance and in all media are acquired by LAC to develop its collection.

Publications (1.2.1.1)
LAC maintains an ongoing effort to collect copies of all materials in all formats published in Canada that are released for public distribution or sale. Normally, two copies are acquired, one for the LAC's Preservation Collection of Canadiana, and the other one for the Service Collection. Materials published abroad with Canadian content or written by Canadian authors or musicians are also acquired. Legal deposit, in force since 1953, through broad provisions in the Library and Archives of Canada Act and qualified in Legal Deposit Regulations, is the prime method for building this collection and is currently applied to formats of publishing including books, magazines, annual publications, microforms, educational kits of non-book materials, sound recordings, and CD-ROMs. Canadian materials published before 1953, or not subject to legal deposit are acquired by purchase, gift or exchange. Non-Canadian publications are also acquired by means of the collections budget or by exchanges with other institutions or as gifts to support a number of specialized services.

Library and Archives Canada also acquires a representative sample of the documentary heritage of interest to Canada from the Internet. On January 1, 2007, the Legal Deposit legislation was broadened to include online publications. These changes were necessary because of the way the Internet has influenced publishing. The legislation applies to a wide variety of people and organizations who publish online. A "publisher" is anyone who makes online publications available in Canada, and who is authorized to either reproduce or control the content of a publication. Many forms of information (e.g. textual, audio, video, geomatic) and the method of information delivery are included in the legislation.

Government Records (1.2.1.2)
Government records of historical or archival value in special format (e.g. films, photographs, audio, philatelics, etc) are transferred to Library and Archives Canada when their operational use has ended. The archival record of the Government of Canada is critical to the preservation of knowledge about our national history and collective memory; to the capacity of Canadians to hold their government accountable for its decisions and actions; and to efficient on-going administration.

Other documentary material (1.2.1.3) Private Archives, Special Collections and Portraits
LAC also acquires items for its national collection that reflect the Canadian society in political, economic, social and cultural fields. Documentary material is comprised of private archival records and special collections including literary manuscripts, children's literature, rare books, music, moving images and sound records, art and photography and all other material of national significance. The private archival collection comprises records from Canadian social and cultural life in its broadest sense: records from the 16th century to the present; Governors-General; judges of the Supreme Court; The Federal Court and its predecessor courts; senior public servants (including diplomats and senior military officers); science and technology records (individuals and organizations); labour records (individuals and organizations); economic records (individuals and organizations); nationally significant personal and political records created by federal politicians and political parties; as well as official "ministerial records" as defined by the Library and Archives Canada (records of Canada's Prime Ministers, Cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament, Senators and national political parties)

Also included are the Portrait Gallery of Canada's acquisitions mainly portraits of people from all walks of life who have contributed and who continue to contribute to the development of Canada.

2.1.2 Description of Collection (Sub-Activity 1.2.2): Creating, acquiring and adapting descriptions of documentary heritage

Acquired content must be described to ensure its proper storage, care and access. Description can take many forms and provide various layers of access. These include description of physical attributes and elements, subject analysis, and standard classifications for individual publications as well as a high level description of content and provenance for archival fonds. Normally, descriptions are governed by nationally and internationally accepted codes of practice, such as the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR2) or the Rules for Archival Description (RAD). At the same time, holdings are also described to meet Canadians' expectations for timely access. Canadians of diverse backgrounds expect user-friendly and intuitive means of accessing holdings.

Publications (1.2.2.1) Publication descriptions
The description of Canadian publications provides benefits for: 1) researchers in all areas of the Canadian cultural experience; 2) Canadian and other libraries acquiring these materials; and 3) Canadian publishers. Descriptions allow these stakeholders to locate publications and to populate their databases. The production of bibliographic descriptions for the national bibliography allows for standardized bibliographic control of the publications of Canada. Bibliographic descriptions produced in advance of publication under the Cataloguing in Publication (CIP) Program assist Canadian publishers in marketing new titles, and aid libraries in selecting and describing new Canadian books for their collections. Descriptions produced by LAC follow a stated policy on bilingualism.

At LAC, the description process is triaged by priority and by level of description. High priority documents receive faster turnaround (the Service Standard is to describe these within 10 working days after receipt), while lower priority documents may be describe later (60% of lower priority publications are processed within three months). Description ranges from full level to abbreviated level according to stated criteria such as imprint date and the importance of the item to the study of Canada. Monthly statistics are produced to report on progress achieved on descriptions created.

Documentary material (1.2.2.2) Archival Documents
Library and Archives Canada organizes and describes the archival record of the private sector and the Government of Canada so as to attest to its provenance and to provide Canadians with access to the record of the activities of their government and Canadian experience. This activity includes accessioning, intellectual arrangement, description, creation of finding aids, preparation of user guides and quality assurance. The archival record is described in its context of creation and use so as to warrant its authenticity as a record of the Government of Canada. Descriptions comply with the national standard Rules for Archival Description. Documents from private archives are described following the same procedures. Also included are descriptions for the Portrait Gallery's collection.

Descriptive standards (1.2.2.3)
Descriptive, subject and other metadata standards ensure access to library and archival resources and allow Canadians to discover and explore their rich documentary heritage. Standards enable sharing and exchange of metadata between knowledge organizations and use of metadata by the clients those organizations serve. Through participation in and management of various national and international standards-setting bodies, the Descriptive Standards sub-sub-activity gives LAC a leadership role in the development, maintenance and interpretation of the standards that underpin access to LAC collections and services. LAC develops and coordinates intellectual management policies, plans and strategies for its programs.

Canadian agency for International Standard Number (1.2.2.4)
International Standard Numbers are unique codes used by publishers, libraries and suppliers to identify published monographs, serials and music. LAC manages ISBNs (International Standard Book Numbers) to books, pamphlets, educational kits, microforms, CD-ROMs and other digital and electronic publications; ISSNs (International Standard Serial Numbers) to serial publications; and ISMNs (International Standard Music Numbers) to printed music publications. These numbers are essential identifiers for the publishing business.

Creating and maintaining national catalogues (1.2.2.5)
The Union Catalogue in AMICUS contains bibliographic descriptions, location and holdings information for serials and monographs, in all subject areas, held in more than 1300 Canadian libraries. Included are: computer files, maps, microforms, newspapers and works in special format (braille, large print, talking books, described videos, captioned videos) for persons who are print or hearing-impaired. Post-1980 bibliographic records reside in the AMICUS database and are accessible online in AMICUS.Bibliographic information reported prior to 1980 is available in card catalogues on site at Library and Archives Canada.

LAC, in support of national collections, also enables the transfer of data from regional archival networks into ArchivesCanada.ca, a portal hosted by the Canadian Council of Archives. Through this partnership, Canadians obtain access to archival resources from over 800 repositories across Canada.

2.1.3 Care of Collection (Sub-Activity 1.2.3) : Preserving documentary heritage

Once materials enter the LAC collection, they are managed to ensure their long-term preservation and accessibility. This is done through collection management policies, procedures and programs including storage, as well as through preservation treatment, and preservation copying.

Collection management (1.2.3.1)
LAC manages the collection to insure that it is safe, secure and well preserved at all times and in all places (for example, while materials are in storage, consulted by clients, copied, transported, on loan or exhibit or during disaster recovery). Items of the collection are prepared for loans and exhibitions to ensure safe, secure and sustainable access to the collection. It also involves space management, environmental management and inventory control. This sub-sub-activity also involves the development and implementation of plans, policies, standards and guidelines on the proper storage conditions for tangible and electronic documents, assessments of new collection management technologies, surveys to assess the condition of and risks to the collection, and long-term and short-term plans for conservation treatment, copying and housing. Preventive preservation activities are undertaken to ensure the long-term preservation of collection items, including active programs in pest management, containerization, care and handling.

Preservation treatment (1.2.3.2)
Preservation treatment activities include stabilization and treatment techniques and have two primary purposes: to slow down or prevent the deterioration of documents and to repair damage already done to documents, thereby permitting their continued availability for use. Treatments performed on documents vary from minimal interventions intended to make as many items available for consultation as possible to more extensive treatments on single items such as cleaning, consolidation, stain removal and repair. Preservation treatment is supported by media-based laboratories which treat both archival and published collections such as moving image and audio, books, manuscripts, maps, philately, art on paper, paintings, and photography.

Preservation copying (1.2.3.3)
Preservation copying is the creation of a reproduction of an original from LAC's collection so that it can serve as a permanent replacement for a deteriorated, unstable, fragile or obsolete original, or so that it can be used for service in lieu of rare or vulnerable items that might be subject to loss or damage due to their medium, format or value. The goal of preservation copying is to transfer information as faithfully as possible, ensuring an accurate rendition of the original. Preservation copying is distinguished from other copying in that it always results in a "preservation master" from which subsequent access copies are derived. The transfer and refreshment of audio, video, film and electronic files to new carriers is also preservation copying, often associated with technological obsolescence. Preservation copying activities are performed through a variety of analog and digital means.

Mass digitization of the LAC collection is a core activity to ensure preservation and access to the collection.

2.1.4 Key Commitment in Support of Strategic Choices

Managing the documentary heritage of interest to Canada program activity is being particularly influenced by the commitments inherent in LAC Strategic Choice number 1, which seeks to ensure that LAC becomes a knowledge institution that benefits from the digital information environment. It is also influenced by the need to build and care for a collection that is relevant to all Canadians. In recent years, LAC has begun to identify proactive approaches to how it wants to do this.

In practice, this has meant creating strategic frameworks such as the Collection Development Framework to guide acquisition decisions. As well, the Metadata Framework for Resource Discovery sets out key principles by which publications and records are described for access and use by Canadians.

LAC has identified two areas of major attention in 2008-2009 and beyond: to develop strategies for preserving documentary heritage and for collecting documentary heritage in digital format. Both contribute to effective management of the collection, take advantage of opportunities and benefits of the digital information environment, and more broadly ensure a relevant and accessible collection to Canadians and people around the world interested in Canada's documentary heritage. They will both draw on partnerships with other organizations that share our commitment to preserve Canada's documentary heritage.

2.1.5 Key Risks

A number of risks are identified in the LAC Initial Corporate Risk Profile (ICRP) (2007). According to interviews conducted as part of this RMAF, the following are especially relevant for this program activity:

  • The risk, for LAC, of not being able to assume all of its long-term responsibilities in terms of the preservation and access to documentary heritage under its care, due to a lack of appropriate material and technological infrastructure.
  • The risk, for LAC, of not being able to assume all of its responsibilities in terms of the preservation and access to documentary heritage in electronic and analog format, due to lack of the appropriate financial, human and technological resources, or a lack of trustworthy partners.
  • The risk, for LAC, of not being up to ensuring the transmission of its institutional knowledge to its new generations of employees or not being able to recruit or renew its human capital with staff that have the appropriate knowledge and skills.

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