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This section addresses the question of whether the NADP remains relevant to its intended stakeholders. Overall, the evaluation found that the NADP remains highly important to the archival community, as it constitutes some of the only support available. Furthermore, the program remains consistent with both the present and future direction of LAC.
4.1.1 Alignment with the needs of the archival community
Overall, this evaluation found that continued funding under the NADP is crucial to the archival community, and that most organizations are highly reliant on funding to make progress in providing the public with access to archival material and to achieve national standards. The structure and objectives were appropriate and corresponded well to the general needs of archivists. Challenges encountered related to a lack of overall program resources, and some capacity issues at the institutional level.
In the case of many institutions, NADP funding represents the only source of financial support available. In other cases, funding opportunities exist at the provincial level; however, the amounts available at all levels are generally thought to be insufficient.
In terms of the structure of the program, key informants did not generally see the NADP as a significant departure from the previous Grants and Contributions Program and noted that they were able to conduct similar projects under the current program. Most also agreed that the program objectives were appropriate, and that they provided enough flexibility for institutions to engage in activities consistent with their needs.
Another point raised by some key informants was that the NADP, in addition to providing financial support for archival activities, also serves to legitimize archival institutions. That is, by providing federal funding to archives, it highlights the importance of archives within the national agenda. This grants archives legitimacy in the eyes of other levels of government, and broadens opportunities for support for archives at provincial and other levels. Key informants expressed the concern that, should federal funding cease, provincial governments would likely reduce their levels of support as well.
The major need cited by key informants was a desire for increased funding. Institutional representatives stated that the total amount of funding through the NADP has remained constant since the 1990s, and has actually seen a decline in real value due to inflation. Meanwhile, backlogs have placed increasing strain on the community and the need for financial support is greater than ever. Key informants strongly suggested that more funds be provided in subsequent years of the program in order to effect meaningful changes in the community.
4.1.2 Alignment with LAC mandate and Strategic Outcome
The evaluation found that the NADP and its objectives show continued relevance with the stated mandate and priorities of LAC. The enabling legislation of LAC states that the organization's mandate is:
LAC's Strategic Outcome, as described in the 2010-2011 Report on Plans and Priorities, is to ensure that “current and future generations of Canadians have access to their documentary heritage” (LAC, 2009a).
Several NADP objectives show clear alignment with the mandate and Strategic Outcome as stated above. All objectives, and particularly 1, 4, and 5, show a strong commitment to fostering cooperation among the archival community by building capacity and sharing materials as well as tools and best practices. Objective 1 contributes to LAC's activity of making documentary heritage known and accessible for use. Furthermore, Objective 5's focus on preservation is supportive of LAC's Strategic Outcome by ensuring that materials are effectively preserved for future generations. Objective 3 corresponds to the area of cultural and social advancement, as it promotes greater representation of Canada's diverse population. Objective 2 aims to make knowledge accessible to all and ensure that a greater proportion of Canadians are aware of and are accessing archival resources.
The future holds significant challenges for LAC's mandate, as changes in the information environment and in the needs of Canadians presents a variety of issues to address. The modernization initiative (discussed in Section 4.1.3) represents LAC's commitment to adapt to these changes.
Alignment with LAC's modernization initiative
The evaluation found some alignment between the NADP and LAC's modernization initiative, however, key informants were not generally aware of the Modernization Initiative. Specifically, Objectives 1 and 5 were considered supportive of the initiative. Among program stakeholders, however, the relationship between the two was not well-understood.
LAC introduced the modernization initiative in 2009 to respond to an increasingly digitalized information landscape and changing user behaviours in order to ensure that LAC remains relevant to Canadians. The initiative is based on the following three pillars:
Acquisition: Information, particularly in digital formats, is expanding rapidly. LAC is mandated to preserve the documentary heritage of Canada; however, the sheer volume of information available means that only a small proportion of available documents can actually be acquired. To guide its acquisition activities going forward, LAC has established a set of criteria to identify and acquire information of greatest relevance and interest to Canadians. Criteria are based on the principles of significance, sustainability, sufficiency, and society.
Preservation: The proliferation of information in new formats presents new challenges related to preservation. Traditional methods of preserving materials in non-digital formats need to be retained, while additional capacity, skills, and infrastructure need to be developed to address information in digital formats. To respond to this challenge, LAC aims to take on a leadership role in developing and implementing best practices related to preservation.
Resource Discovery: Archives need to adapt to changing user behaviours in order to remain relevant to future generations. This involves promoting a “user-centric approach, facilitating user autonomy, leveraging the contributions of users, and contextualizing resources” (LAC, 2009b). Specific activities and recommendations under this pillar are under development.
The Modernization Initiative will affect the roles of LAC and how it interacts with archival communities and with Canadians in general. Key roles include:
While the NADP was not originally developed to align with the modernization initiative, the initiative will have significant implications for LAC's future direction and for the direction of the archival community in general. Future iterations of the NADP will therefore need to consider its objectives and intended outcomes in order to remain consistent with LAC's direction.
Key informants were not generally aware of the Modernization Initiative, but were given the opportunity to familiarize themselves with it prior to participating in an interview. They generally identified NADP's Objective 1 and 5 as most consistent with the initiative. Objective 1 corresponds primarily to the resource discovery pillar of the modernization initiative. Specifically, the focus on providing material online via the national catalogue reflects a changing user environment where searching for and accessing information is ubiquitous and in-person visits to archives are on the decline. Several projects under Objective 1 involved converting selected materials into digital formats, creating virtual exhibits, and making materials available through the national catalogue.
Objective 5, and to an extent Objective 4, reflects the modernization initiative's emphasis on promoting greater collaboration within the archival community. The initiative's Preservation pillar, for example, emphasizes building skills and capacity, and sharing best practices related to preserving materials. A review of project files revealed several examples of projects conducted by Provincial/Territorial councils that provided advisory services and information sessions designed to increase preservation capacity among member institutions. Under Objective 4, archives advisor projects and professional development activities represented significant progress related to collaboration and the sharing of knowledge and skills.
Key informants found less alignment between Objectives 2 and 3 and the modernization initiative, and this may be something for LAC to address in future. Another suggestion raised by a few informants related to further involving users in archival activities. Given the proliferation of user-generated content online (Wikipedia, etc.), LAC may want to explore the potential of users to further contribute to the development of archives in Canada. Leveraging user contributions could increase awareness and use of archives while potentially reducing the workload of archivists. Key informants did not provide specific suggestions as to how LAC could incorporate user-generated material into the NADP.
4.1.4 Clarity of roles and responsibilities
For the most part, roles and responsibilities of program stakeholders were clearly defined in most areas of program delivery. Following recommendations in the 2003 audit calling for greater clarification of each stakeholder's involvement in the program, LAC and CCA have taken steps to clarify and communicate roles and responsibilities. LAC developed a number of documents that clearly explain the NADP management structure and the involvement of the parties. Contribution agreements to recipients also provide a detailed description of roles and responsibilities (PRA, 2008, p. 15). In addition, CCA introduced a new requirement within the contract between CCA and funding recipients, wherein program recipients are required to provide a letter of acknowledgement to LAC with their final report. The purpose of this letter is to highlight LAC's role in the delivery of the program.
Among key informants, there remained significant uncertainty about the specific involvement of LAC, with several key informants expressing that they did not know what LAC's role was. Key informants representing LAC management also noted that the process through which funding is flowed to recipients still needs to be better defined and communicated to recipients. While the requirement for a letter of acknowledgment is a useful measure, it does not affect institutions that have not received funding. Increased direct communication with the archival community on the part of LAC might help to highlight LAC's support through the NADP.
Communication between stakeholders was also found to be effective, and LAC and CCA continue to hold biannual meetings to review national strategic priorities. Provincial/Territorial councils offered positive feedback on the level of support they received from CCA. Program recipients also expressed a high degree of satisfaction with the involvement from CCA, noting that they were grateful for the extensive support and guidance that they had received.