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Digital Collection Development Policy

4. Selection Guidelines

4.1. Selection and Acquisition Guidelines for Canadian Web Sites

4.1.1 Legal Framework

The Library and Archives of Canada Act allows LAC to collect a representative sample of Canadian websites which now form part of our documentary heritage.
"8 (2) Sampling from the Internet: In exercising the powers referred to in paragraph (1)(a) and for the purpose of preservation, the Librarian and Archivist may take, at the times and in the manner that he or she considers appropriate, a representative sample of the documentary material of interest to Canada that is accessible to the public without restriction through the Internet or any similar medium".

This sampling provision is quite separate and distinct from other provisions in the LAC Act which govern the legal deposit of publications, including electronic publications.

In order to carry out this mandate on behalf of Canadians, LAC undertakes selection and acquisition activities which enable the collection of a defined representative sample of Canadian websites.

4.1.2 Definitions

The definition of a website (Digital Collection Development Policy, Section 3) is:

"A set of linked web pages, usually including a home page, related by content or domain, and prepared and maintained as a collection of information by a person, group, or organization. A web page is any computer file, graphical material, or grouping of text accessible via the Internet which can be addressed by a hypertext link and rendered for a user by a browser for display or printing."

4.1.3 Basic Selection Guidelines

(a) All selection and acquisition of websites is governed by LAC's Collection Development Framework, the directives of this Digital Collection Development Policy, and the acquisitions priorities and plans of the Documentary Heritage Collection Sector (DHC).

(b) In general, a website is considered to be Canadian if at least one of the following criteria is met:

- domain name has the suffix ".ca"
- domain name is registered in Canada
- geographic location of the website owner can be established as being within Canada
- nationality of the website owner or the contributors to the website can be established as being Canadian

(c) Publicly available websites are considered to be published digital materials. LAC is taking a two-pronged approach to the selection and acquisition of websites:

- Capture of websites on an individual basis
- Harvest of large web domains

These two approaches give LAC the much needed flexibility to target and acquire a selection of specific websites as well as to do periodic harvests to acquire all sites contained on large web domains efficiently (e.g. harvesting the whole .ca domain).

(d) Web sites of interest which are soon to be defunct are given priority, especially if they are Government of Canada sites.

(e) Technical requirements, frequency of acquisition, etc., are negotiated with website owners, as required.

(f) Technical issues may influence the frequency of acquisition or may result in a decision not to acquire a website.

(g) Until specific arrangements have been established (e.g. blanket permission), permission will be sought from each website owner to make his website accessible to the public in the LAC Collection.

(h) Web sites which are regularly updated with new content and / or revised significantly in format may be captured more frequently so as to show the changes over time. Schedules are established for capturing individual websites as well as harvesting large web domains.

(i) The capture of entire websites, i.e. all levels within a website, is preferred. Due to technical or other reasons, it may, however, only be possible to capture a portion of a website.

(j) It is acknowledged that certain functionality may not work properly in the archived website, e.g. search functionality, buttons, etc.. In general, links internal to the website should operate properly, except in cases where the internal links in the original site were not operational. LAC does not correct any errors in archived sites, e.g. HTML coding errors, which are present in the original websites.

(k) Web sites which are not Canadian, but which are of interest to Canadians (e.g. professional association sites, official sites of foreign governments), generally are linked to and are not captured for inclusion in the LAC Collection.

4.1.4 Focus of LAC Web Site Selection and Acquisition

When harvesting of a large web domain is performed, all websites within that domain are captured. This ensures complete coverage of a defined web domain (e.g. on a specific date / time frame.

However, when websites are captured individually, within the context of acquisitions priorities and plans, LAC targets certain types of sites, as follows:

(a) Web sites which document seminal or topical events, episodes, incidents, experiences in Canada, e.g. elections, SARS crisis, natural disasters, etc.. These sites are acquired frequently, as the event evolves or unfolds.

(b) Web sites which build on the strengths of the LAC collection in the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities.

(c) Web sites which pertain to:

- Canadian culture (e.g. arts, literature)
- Canadian society (e.g. history and development, trends, issues)
- Canadian politics and government
- Canadian publishing

(d) Web sites which contain substantial original content, and / or which are representative of significant or note-worthy ephemera.

(e) Government websites (federal, provincial and territorial, aboriginal, municipal).

(f) Web sites which are intended to be used as research tools, e.g. those containing directories or research reports.

(g) Web sites of or about prominent Canadian authors, musicians, literary figures, performers, educators, politicians, civic leaders, business men / women, etc..

(h) Web sites which demonstrate emerging communications trends, e.g. blogs.

(i) Web sites which are widely recognized as being innovative, or, which have won awards for excellence.

4.1.5 Web Site Selection Governance

Day to day selection decisions are made within the Legal Deposit Internet Unit of Published Heritage Branch, Documentary Heritage Collection (DHC) Sector. These selection decisions are made in collaboration with and in co-operation with other LAC acquiring areas. An integrated approach is taken to acquisitions priorities and plans in general and the selection and acquisition of websites is governed by this holistic methodology.

Suggestions for the acquisition of websites are accepted from LAC staff, clients or other sources and are reviewed for appropriateness using these Guidelines.

4.1.6 Monitoring and Review

Monitoring of the selection and acquisition of websites is undertaken as part of the overall evaluation of collecting activities at LAC.

LAC diligently monitors developments relating to website content, design, usage, etc. so that our collections reflect the evolution of the continually changing Internet environment.

LAC will review the appropriateness and the application of these Guidelines every two years, or, as required.

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