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Digital Collection Development Policy

4.2. Selection and Acquisition Guidelines for Networked Publications

4.2.1 Context / Scope

Library and Archives Canada will take a phased approach to the acquisition of networked publications in order to put in place the necessary system and human resources to process, preserve, organize, and describe for access the vast production of networked publications under its mandate. In the first phase, the focus of acquisition will be on text-based publications. In phase two, other media, such as audio, image and geomatic files, will be acquired. Because these formats present challenges on a number of different levels - file size, system management, format, etc. - their acquisition will be done in stages in tandem with the development of the necessary technological infrastructure. Guidelines related to audio, image, and geomatic materials will therefore be included at a later date.

These guidelines will also be broadened and updated as appropriate to include new forms of publications as they develop.

In general, a level of selectivity is to be applied in the acquisition of networked publications, including those publications received through legal deposit. The large number of networked publications being produced, the exponential pattern of growth they exhibit, and the speed with which publications can disappear or become inaccessible create considerable acquisition challenges, including the capacity to gather sufficient knowledge of what publications actually exist in order to make selection decisions. The acquisition guidelines that follow clarify which networked publications are acquired and which are not acquired due to collection development, regulatory, or technological considerations. The guidelines are subdivided according to the approach to acquisition and cover:
(1) publications acquired for the LAC collection through the mechanism of legal deposit;
(2) publications acquired for the collection though selection of individual titles; and
(3) publications to which LAC provides online access (for example, publications purchased on subscription to support research services) but that are not preserved as part of the permanent collection.

The acquisition and selection of networked publications is governed by the Library and Archives of Canada Act and the accompanying Legal Deposit of Publications Regulations, the Collection Development Framework, the Digital Collection Development Policy, and the acquisitions priorities and plans of Library and Archives Canada, in particular those of the Documentary Heritage Collection Sector (DHC).

4.2.2 Definitions

Publication: library matter that is made available in multiple copies or at multiple locations, whether without charge or otherwise, to the public generally or to qualifying members of the public by subscription or otherwise. Publications may be made available through any medium and may be in any form, including printed material, on-line items or recordings. (Library and Archives of Canada Act, s. 2, Definitions)

Digital publication: a digitally encoded information resource made available to the public either through a communications network like the Internet, or on a physical carrier. (Digital Collection Development Policy, Section 2)

Networked publication: a networked publication normally comprises the linked objects on one communications network domain which are judged to be intrinsic to the publication. (Digital Collection Development Policy, Section 2)

(NB: Internet publication, electronic publication, e-publication, online publication, and web publication are synonymous terms found in regular use.)

Website: 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. (Digital Collection Development Policy, Section 2)

Publisher: a person1 who makes a publication available in Canada that the person is authorized to reproduce or over which the person controls the content. It does not include a person who only distributes a publication. (Legal Deposit of Publications Regulations)

4.2.3 Networked Publications Acquired through Legal Deposit

4.2.3.1 Objectives
A difficulty in extending legal deposit to network publishing is that legal deposit is a relatively indiscriminate acquisition mechanism that aims at comprehensiveness, while in the network environment, any individual with access to the Internet can be a publisher and the publishing process does not always provide the initial screening and selection at the manuscript stage which has traditionally been a feature of the print environment. In addition, because online publishing is innovative and changing in nature, acquisition has to be open-ended enough to incorporate a wide range of existing and developing types of publishing.

LAC is committed to being as comprehensive as it can in this environment but recognizes that its capacity to acquire and archive the vast universe of networked publications is limited. LAC will further define what it wants to acquire via legal deposit in order to ensure the collection of publications that are deemed to be of lasting cultural or research value. For example, one major area of acquisition through legal deposit is the networked publications produced by the federal government of Canada.

By acquiring a networked publication from the originator as soon as it becomes published, LAC is in a position to preserve the integrity of a publication as originally released. LAC is also able to verify and ensure that the publication is in a form that is readable by standard software and therefore accessible for current and future generations of readers and researchers.

4.2.3.2 Legal Framework
The Library and Archives of Canada Act outlines the legal requirement for Canadian publishers to deposit with LAC a requisite number of copies of any publication in any format that they make available in Canada, including online publications. Since 1952, with the passing of the first National Library Act, legal deposit has been instrumental in building a collection that contains a significant proportion of the entire published documentary heritage of Canada.

The legal deposit provisions that apply to online publications are separate and distinct from other provisions in the Act that govern the representative sampling of websites on the Internet (See Section 4.1, Selection and Acquisition Guidelines for Canadian Web Sites).

The legislation is augmented by Legal Deposit of Publications Regulations (in effect Jan. 1, 2007) that provide additional detail to publishers on the types of publications subject to deposit and the specific provisions to be met for deposit with Library and Archives Canada. Publishers are provided with other documentation in addition to the Regulations and these Guidelines to assist them in understanding the precise requirements related to the deposit of online publications.

4.2.3.3 Criteria for Legal Deposit by Publishers
In both the Act (s. 10(1)) and the Regulations (s. 1), the obligation to deposit falls on the "publisher who makes a publication available in Canada". A publisher is the person/entity who has made the publication available in Canada and who either has control over the publication or is authorized to reproduce the content of the publication. A person who only distributes a publication is not considered to have an obligation to deposit the publication.

A publisher is considered to have made a publication "available in Canada" if at least one of the following criteria is met:

  • the location of the publication (i.e. URL) has a domain name with the suffix ".ca"
  • the domain name for the publication is registered in Canada
  • the geographic location given in the publication or accompanying descriptive material (e.g. metadata produced by the author/publisher) is within Canada
  • the geographic location of the publisher can be established from other sources as being within Canada

In instances where the publisher of the original work can no longer be contacted, and the publication is only available from a secondary source, arrangements can be made with the secondary source. (See Section 4.2.4 Publications Acquired Through Selection)

4.2.3.4 Attributes of a Networked Publication
The definition of "publication" in the Act is intentionally broad so as to encompass the many sorts of publications made available to the public today and into the future. The initial scope of the application of legal deposit to networked publications used by LAC starting Jan. 1, 2007 is to be fairly conservative. In the beginning, acquisition is to focus on network-based publications that resemble conventionally published items and that comply with the level of technological sophistication LAC is capable of applying to the archiving process. The attributes of a networked publication acquired through legal deposit listed below therefore reflect what LAC will collect at this time. Attributes for publications to be covered in the planned phase two of the acquisition approach, such as audio, image and geomatic files, will be included at a later date.

To determine if a publication is to be acquired through deposit the following attributes are considered:

(a) the material would have been published as a book, a journal, a pamphlet, a newspaper, etc. in the world of conventional publishing

(b) the material is an online copy of a work originally published conventionally

(c) there is evidence of formal editing or a structure or elements similar to that of a conventionally published item (e.g. a title, author(s), ISBN or ISSN, a table of contents, index, etc.)

(d) words such as "study", "research report", "guideline", "directory", "biography", "novel", "poetry", are used to characterize the publication

(e) when the publication constitutes an entire website, such as for some journals, dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc., it is considered a publication subject to deposit rather than a website subject to selection

(f) a simple conglomeration of information on a website that assists the user in navigating the website, or is informational in nature, such as an outline of services offered, contact information etc., is not considered a publication

4.2.3.5 Editions
LAC acquires the first and subsequent editions of a publication. To determine whether a networked publication should be regarded as a new edition, the following criteria are applied:

  • the publication is announced as a new edition, i.e., as indicated in wording or by means of a number, date, or code
  • the publisher regards the publication as a new edition
  • the changes to the publication are significant.

The frequency of acquiring new editions of dynamic, frequently changing, publications is determined on a case by case basis. Selection can vary from comprehensive to representative based on consideration of the following criteria:

  • the significance of changes between updates
  • the significance/importance of the publication
  • the resources associated with handling, storing and preserving the publication.

The frequency of deposit can be negotiated with the publisher.

4.2.3.6 Formats
LAC strongly advocates format standardization for all online publishers in the interests of optimizing long term preservation and archiving efficiencies, however LAC recognizes it must establish an acquisition approach to the variety of publication formats that currently exist and to new formats that will be developed.

(a) The Library and Archives of Canada Act calls for deposit of all available formats (s. 10(4)) in which a publication is published. For networked publications, however, not every format for a publication will necessarily be acquired.

(b) The general policies on formats outlined in the Basic Policy Statements of the Digital Collection Development Policy are to apply to the acquisition of networked publications.

(c) Where differences in content, presentation, or functionality exist between different formats of a publication, and when these differences are deemed to be significant, a format may be acquired as a different edition of the publication.

(d) In the acquisition of networked publications, preference is given to standard formats that are best candidates for long term preservation. Details on preferences of which formats to choose from can be found in: Electronic Publishing Guide to Best Practices for Canadian Publishers and Guidelines for Computer File Types, Interchange Formats and Information Standards[www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/government/products-services/007002-3017-e.html]

(e) Technical or system constraints, especially when acquiring emerging formats, may influence the feasibility of acquisition, and may result in a decision not to acquire a networked publication at the time. In such cases, the existence of the publication is noted and access to the publication via an electronic link is provided where possible.

4.2.3.7 Networked Publications Subject to Legal Deposit Only upon Request

Specific categories
Certain categories of publications are identified in the Legal Deposit of Publications Regulations as being subject to deposit only if requested as a class of publication by the Librarian and Archivist. The following categories of publications specific to networked publications are listed in the Regulations as not subject to automatic deposit:

  • deliberations of electronic discussion groups, listservs, bulletin boards and emails;
  • websites, including portals, personal websites, service sites, intranets and websites consisting primarily of links to other sites; and
  • dynamic databases and raw data.

These categories are general or generic in nature and therefore cover recent forms of publications, such as blogs and wikis, and can apply to new forms that develop in the future. Guidelines to cover the acquisition on a selective basis of these categories of publications are outlined in Section 4.2.4 and in the Selection and Acquisition Guidelines for Canadian Web Sites.

General categories
Several other general categories of publications are subject to deposit only if requested as a class of publication and the Regulations apply whether the publications are produced in a networked environment or are the product of conventional publishing. The following general categories of publications are not subject to automatic deposit:

  • reissues or portions of publications that are not substantially different from copies already deposited;
  • programs of activities and events;
  • trade catalogues, advertisements, promotional material, prospectuses and price lists;
  • timetables or transport services;
  • blank books or blank forms without accompanying text; and
  • galley copies, works in progress, pre-prints and drafts.

Publications in these categories can be acquired individually on a selective basis. (See Section 4.2.4 Networked Publications Acquired Through Selection)

4.2.4 Networked Publications Acquired Through Selection

4.2.4.1 Focus of Selection for Networked Publications
Networked publications are selected in the context of overall collection development policies and current acquisition priorities and plans. Selection is used to acquire Canadiana publications that can not for various reasons be obtained though legal deposit, Canadiana publications that are published in other countries, other publications that are necessary to support the collecting mandate, and publications that support services to the public. These publications become part of the LAC collection.

Certain types or categories of publications are the focus in selection:

(a) Publications which document seminal or topical events, episodes, incidents, experiences in Canada.

(b) Publications that pertain to:

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

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

(d) Publications considered to be significant or note-worthy Canadian ephemera.

(e) Publications produced by the levels of government in Canada not subject to legal deposit i.e., provincial and territorial, municipal, and aboriginal.

(f) Publications which build on the strengths of the LAC collection in the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities.

(g) Publications that are intended to be used as research tools, e.g. directories, indexes, or research reports.

(h) Publications of interest that are published in Canada but are of a category not acquired through legal deposit, e.g. programs of activities and events, drafts, promotional material, etc.

(i) Publications of interest in a standard format are preferred; word processing formats are collected only if they are the sole format available.

4.2.5 Networked Publications to which LAC Provides Access

LAC provides organized access to a range of networked publications whose long term preservation is the responsibility of others. These publications are hosted elsewhere and LAC maintains a link to the remote site that points directly to the publication at that location. Included are freely available publications held by other institutions. In some cases LAC acquires the right to access a publication though a license, purchase agreement, or subscription. These linked-to publications do not form part of the permanent collection and are not archived by LAC.

Included within this approach are Canadian networked publications acquired and preserved by others in Canada; non-Canadian publications that supplement the LAC collection; and publications that support the research or client services of LAC.

Certain types or categories of publications are the focus in the provision of access via direct links:

(a) Canadian publications of heritage value collected and preserved by other institutions, organizations, groups, and individuals in Canada.

(b) Official publications of foreign countries.

(c) Publications of international organizations of which Canada is a member.

(d) National bibliographies of other countries.

(e) Publications that are intended to be used as research tools, e.g. directories, indexes, or research reports.

(f) Publications which can not be physically acquired and/or properly preserved in the current technical environment of LAC.

4.2.6 Networked Publication Governance

Day to day acquisition decisions related to legal deposit as well as the attendant negotiations are made within the Legal Deposit Internet Unit of Published Heritage Branch, Documentary Heritage Collection (DHC) Sector.

Decisions related to the selection of networked publications for the LAC collection or for the provision of access to a publication via a link are made by other LAC and DHC sector acquiring areas and are coordinated with acquisition programs related to the selection of individual websites and the harvest of web domains. An integrated approach is taken to acquisitions priorities and plans in general and the selection and acquisition of networked publications is governed by this holistic methodology.

Suggestions for the acquisition of networked publications are accepted from LAC staff, clients or other sources at: epe@bac-lac.gc.ca and are reviewed for appropriateness using these Guidelines.

4.2.7 Monitoring and Review

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

LAC diligently monitors developments relating to new trends in web publishing, 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 year, or, as required.


1 "Person" is a legal collective term that applies to organizations as well as individuals.

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