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Preservation Activities

Preservation Policy


Appendix A

Citations from Relevant Acts

National Archives of Canada Act

Article 4.(1): « The objects and functions of the National Archives of Canada are to conserve private and public records of national significance and facilitate access thereto, to be the permanent repository of records of government institutions and of ministerial records, to facilitate the management of records of government institutions and of ministerial records, and to encourage archival activities and the archival community. »

Article 4.(2): « The Archivist may do such things as are incidental or conducive to the attainment of the objects and functions of the National Archives of Canada and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, may:
(a) acquire records or obtain the care, custody or control of records;
(b) take such measures as are necessary to classify, identify, preserve and restore records;
(c) subject to any lawful restriction that applies, provide access to the records;
(d) provide information, consultation, research and other services related to archives;
(e) make known information concerning archives by means such as publications, exhibitions and the lending of records;
(f) advise government institutions concerning standards and procedures pertaining to the management of records;
(g) provide reproduction and other services to government institutions pertaining to the management of records;
(h) provide a central service for the care and control of records pertaining to former personnel of any government institution;
(i) provide records storage facilities to government institutions;
(j) provide training in archival techniques and the management of records;
(k) cooperate with and undertake in concert with organizations interested in archival matters or the management of records by means such as exchanges and joint projects;
(l) provide professional, technical and financial support in aid of archival activities and the archival community; and
(m) carry out such other functions as the Governor in Council may specify. »

Article 4.(3): « Subject to the terms and conditions under which records have been acquired or obtained, the Archivist may destroy or dispose of any record under the control of the Archivist where the retention of the record is no longer deemed necessary. »

Article 5.(1): « No record under the control of a government institution and no ministerial record, whether or not it is surplus property of a government institution, shall be destroyed or disposed of without the consent of the Archivist. »

Article 6.(1): « The records of government institutions and ministerial records that, in the opinion of the Archivist, are of historic or archival importance shall be transferred to the care and control of the Archivist in accordance with such schedules or other agreements for the transfer of records as may be agreed on between the Archivist and the government institution or person responsible for the records. »

Article 6.(3): « Except as otherwise directed by the Governor in Council, the Archivist shall have the care and control of all records of any government institution the functions of which have ceased. »

Article 8.(1): « In this section, "recording" means anything on which sounds or images or both are fixed, regardless of form. »

Article 8.(2): « The producer or distributor of a recording shall, within six months after a request in writing is made by the Archivist, provide the Archivist with a copy of the recording in such form as may be specified in the request. »

Article 8.(3): « The Archivist shall pay to a person, other than Her Majesty in right of Canada or an agent thereof, who provides a copy under subsection (2) the actual cost of making the copy so provided. »

Article 8.(4): « Every person who fails to comply with subsection (2) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction. »

Article 8.(5): « Subsection (2) does not apply in respect of
(a) a recording that is required to be sent to the National Librarian under the National Library Act or that has not been broadcast or made public in Canada; or
(b) any recording of a class or kind that is exempted from the application of that subsection by such regulations as the Minister may make for the purpose. »

Copyright Act Access to Information Act

Article 8.(6): « This section applies to Her Majesty in right of Canada or a province. »

Article 30.1 (1): « It is not an infringement of copyright for a library, archive or museum or a person acting under the authority of a library, archive or museum to make, in accordance with the regulations made under subsection (4), for the maintenance or management of its permanent collection or the permanent collection of another library, archive or museum, a copy of a work or other subject-matter, whether published or unpublished, in its permanent collection
(a) if the original is rare or unpublished and is deteriorating, damaged or lost, or at risk of deterioration or becoming damaged or lost;
(b) for the purposes of on-site consultation if the original cannot be viewed, handled or listened to because of its condition or because of the atmospheric conditions in which it must be kept;
(c) in an alternative format if the original is currently in an obsolete format or the technology required to use the original is unavailable;
(d) for the purposes of internal record-keeping and cataloguing;
(e) for insurance purposes or police investigations; or
(f) if necessary for restoration. »

Article 30.1 (2): « Paragraphs (1) (a) to (c) do not apply where an appropriate copy is commercially available in a medium and of a quality that is appropriate for the purposes of subsection (1). »

Article 30.1 (3): « If a person must make an intermediate copy in order to make a copy under subsection (1), the person must destroy the intermediate copy as soon as it is no longer needed. »

Article 30.1 (4): « The Governor in Council may make regulations with respect to the procedure for making copies under subsection (1). »

Article 2 (1):
« The purpose of this Act is to extend the present laws of Canada to provide a right of access to information in records under the control of a government institution in accordance with the principles that government information should be available to the public, that necessary exceptions to the right of access should be limited and specific and that decisions on the disclosure of government information should be reviewed independently of government.

Complementary procedures

Article 2 (2):
This Act is intended to complement and not replace existing procedures for access to government information and is not intended to limit in any way access to the type of government information that is normally available to the general public. »

Article 4 (1):
« Subject to this Act, but notwithstanding any other Act of Parliament, every person who is
(a) a Canadian citizen, or
(b) a permanent resident within the meaning of the Immigration Act, has a right to and shall, on request, be given access to any record under the control of a government institution..."

Article 4 (3):
"For the purposes of this Act, any record requested under this Act that does not exist but can, subject to such limitations as may be prescribed by regulation, be produced from a machine readable record under the control of a government institution using computer hardware and software and technical expertise normally used by the government institution shall be deemed to be a record under the control of the government institution. »

Article 67.1 (1):
« No person shall, with intent to deny a right of access under this Act,
A) destroy, mutilate or alter a record;
B) falsify a record or make a false record;
C) conceal a record;
D) direct, propose, counsel or cause any person in any manner to do anything mentioned in any of paragraphs A) to C). »

Article 67.1 (2):
« Every person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of
A) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to both, or
B) an offence punishable on summary of conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding $5,000, or to both. »

Appendix B


Access copying refers to the manufacture of copies reproducing a varying number and quality of the attributes of the archival record and their interrelationships; and for client copies, usually without the requirement for a high level of permanence. Access copying creates reference tools, copying masters and client copies; supplies copies for exhibition and so enhances public awareness of NA holdings; ensures automated access to automated records (e.g., electronic records); and creates digital copies for distant access.

Acquisition copying refers to the manufacture of copies to produce an object to acquire (e.g., off-air satellite recording, microfilm or other copying of records held in other institutions or locations, processing of electronic records into physical and logical formats acceptable to the NA), or to satisfy donor, vendor or source requirements as a result of acquisition or selection decisions.

Archival master refers to a copy held by or produced by the NA that has been designated as the record that most closely approximates the archival record or the original record insofar as it is known. It is usually made from an archival record. (Archival masters made from original or other records that are not held by the NA may be designated as archival records in the NA.) Archival masters may or may not have the same preservation priority as archival records (e.g., for microfilm or audio-visual records, they may sometimes be or become the archival record). However, they always have a higher priority than other copies.

Archival record refers to a record selected and acquired by the NA for permanent retention and use by Canadians. An archival record is defined as such through an archival valuation decision, not by virtue of some inherent, objective quality. It may therefore be a designated original record or a copy record, and may include metadata. Its archival status may also be subject to change.

Basic/applied research is directed toward solving a specific practical problem and uses information, analytical tools and knowledge already available.

Client copy refers to a copy made for users at their request. It is usually made from a reference copy or, for microfilm and photographic client copies, from the copying master.

Conservation (or preservation) copying refers to the manufacture of a surrogate that reproduces the maximum number and quality of the attributes of the archival record and their interrelationships (see Appendix C), in a medium with a high level of permanence or a level of permanence comparable to that of the archival record. Conservation copying makes records of archival records on loan; ensures long-term accessibility of archival records in some form when original records are inherently deteriorative or dangerous (e.g., newsprint, nitrate negatives and films), too fragile for easy access, or dependent on rare or obsolete technology (e.g., audio-visual records). Such records need highly faithful, modern copies to protect and maintain existence and accessibility.

Conservation treatment refers to changes brought about in an archival record to improve or maintain any of its attributes and their interrelationships, including physical stability, appearance or accessibility. For human-readable records, conservation treatment entails physical or chemical intervention and may be performed as a preventive measure or once damage has occurred. For technology-dependent records, conservation treatment may entail physical or chemical intervention; however, it may also entail, or be combined with, the manufacture of an archival master or, for electronic records, migration or other form of copying. It usually takes place once damage has occurred or in anticipation of damage or obsolescence (hence inaccessibility) because of the passage of time. In the case of technology-dependent records, the new record resulting from these actions may irreversibly replace the first archival record for two reasons: the archival master or migrated version may be sufficiently (although not exactly) the same to allow the replacement, while technological obsolescence may be so rapid as to require it. This radical effect on the first archival record identifies the creation of archival masters and the migration of electronic records (or re-copying to a new logical and/or physical format for the electronic record) as highly interventionist conservation treatments as much as they are copying techniques.

Copy refers to a replication of an archival record in whole or in part to preserve it and/or provide access to it.

Copying refers to all methods of manufacturing a reproduction of a record to create a second record in the same or a new medium or media with its own attributes (see Appendix C), including history of creation, metadata and requirements for control, preservation and access.

Copying master refers to a copy used to produce reference copies and sometimes client copies. It is usually made from the archival master or the archival record.

Custody refers to the guardianship and management of archival records (including electronic records and certain copies).

Developmental research is directed toward turning promising results of laboratory research into marketable or useful products.

Human-readable record refers to a record that is intelligible without the assistance or mediation of a machine, for example, a manuscript or typescript, a drawing, a print, etc. (see Appendix D).

Metadata originally referred to technical data about electronic records essential for rendering them understandable. The term has been enlarged in general archival usage to apply to data or information which may be considered part of or related to archival records in either traditional or electronic media. This data may be administrative or descriptive or may relate to a record's preservation or use. This document allows for both definitions of metadata depending on context.

Original record refers to a record designated original by the NA after consideration of its attributes and their interrelationships. The designation may change owing to circumstances, such as a new acquisition or new information.

Permanent custody is intended to ensure the physical integrity of the holdings and includes responsibility for, among other activities, relevant standards, policies, procedures and regulations; holdings assessments and surveys; ensuring proper accommodation, storage containers and handling techniques; the management of holdings in storage or other locations; environmental and pest control; secure use and access to, retrieval and loan of archival records and certain copies.

Preservation is defined as all actions that can be taken with the aim of ensuring the current and long-term survival and accessibility of the physical form, informational content and relevant metadata of archival records, including actions taken to influence records creators prior to acquisition or selection. Preservation consists of all actions described under « Policy Requirements » in this document. The term « conservation » is used in this policy to refer to treatment actions and copying for the long term. It is also sometimes used synonymously with preservation in archival communities; these terms are not synonymous in other heritage communities (e.g., museums).

Preventive preservation refers to a specific set of non-intrusive preservation actions undertaken without actual physical intervention or chemical treatment of archival records. Preventive preservation attempts to prevent or halt deterioration or retard its progress, or manufactures a potential surrogate through certain copying techniques that maintain the copied archival record unchanged. Preventive preservation is not repair, de-acidification or migration, which are active interventions that affect the record. Preventive preservation is not confined to the activities of preservation staff but is an integral part of all archival activities from acquisition, selection and arrangement through to the provision of access, and all NA staff assume responsibility for preventive preservation appropriate to their roles, based on standards and guidelines. Preventive preservation includes establishing and implementing a holdings maintenance plan, proper containerization and handling techniques, storage and processing environments, packing and transport procedures, and certain copying techniques.

Pure research is directed toward the discovery of new facts or the expansion of knowledge without the condition that it must lead to a specific, useful product.

Reconstructed record refers to the product of an attempt, usually in audio-visual records, to divine the intentions of the records creators and on that basis, using copying and composite techniques, either to alter an existing archival record or to produce a proposed new version for which no complete original may exist.

Record: « A 'record' includes any correspondence, memorandum, book, plan, map, drawing, diagram, pictorial or graphic work, photograph, film, microform, sound recording, videotape, machinereadable record and any other documentary material, regardless of physical form or characteristics and any copy thereof » (Article (2) of the National Archives of Canada Act).All records, including copies, may be described through a series of attributes (see Appendix C).

Reference (or consultation) copy refers to a copy made available to archives users to prevent frequent handling and transportation of either archival records or archival masters; it also serves to make client copies for users. It is usually made either from the copying master or, infrequently, from the archival master. A digital reference copy may be made from the original digital record or from any of its digital copies.

Technology-dependent record refers to a record that is dependent on the mediation of a machine and/or other technology such as software to be experienced or rendered intelligible; for example, audio-visual records and electronic records (see Appendix D).

Temporary custody: Records may be in the temporary custody of non-custodial NA staff or of external institutions or individuals for such purposes as acquisition, arrangement, processing, documentation, public consultation, exhibition, loan, etc. In these circumstances, they will be handled according to the custodial standards, policies, procedures and regulations of the NA.

Appendix C

Attributes of a Record

1. Authenticity
What is the record's level of authenticity, and on what is this based (e.g., what is the date(s) of its creation and the types, quantity and dates of changes to it? migrations? copies?) Is its authenticity based on other attributes or their interrelationships in this list, below?

2. Accessibility
Is it human-readable or technology-dependent? Is it an analog or a digital record, and what is accessibility (readability or ability to be copied)?

3. Citability
What is the record's level of citability? Is this a version, edition, « state » (e.g., of an engraving) or other stage of production or use that is expected to match reliably a published or unpublished citation to it as an object?

4. Content
What is the content of the record? This can be understood on two levels:
a) denotative (informational: what the record says or shows); and
b) connotative (what the record means: what may be inferred, implied, proved).

5. Context
What is the context of the record (i.e., what are its links to other records or sequences)? Does it serve to authenticate other records, and how?

6. Functionality
What is the functionality or usability of the record? Does it have multiple uses (originally, subsequently or in the future), in the form in which it was acquired or in other forms? Is the use for which it was created exhausted (and only residual research or documentary uses are left)? Are there new uses engendered specifically by being in an archives (e.g., as an archival « treasure »)?

7. Market Value
Does it have a current or future market value or marketability? On what basis?

8. Medium
What is its medium or media of manufacture? What is its expected life span or physical stability under ordinary « office » or « home » conditions?

9. Metadata
What is its metadata, and is its metadata to be considered an integral part of the record (whether the record is in a traditional medium or electronic form)?

10. Object Form
What is the record as a discrete whole? What are its dimensions, its parts (is it a multiple or compound record, such as the parts of a pieced map, or a composite artwork)? Does its artifactual, three-dimensional nature, or its reverse, or container, frame, binding, base or attachments, add crucial information to its definition as an object? Does it have an « extent », i.e., a sequence of interdependent states (such as the negative and positive versions of a photograph)?

11. Presentation
What is the record's presentation or appearance (e.g., its format, layout, pagination, « original look, » style, serial sequencing)?

12. Provenance
What asserts the origin and chain of custody in the record (e.g., bookplates, signatures, imprints, letterheads, title page, notes, marginalia, metadata, serial position)?

Principles derived from the attributes of records:
1) All attributes and their interrelationships represent information about the record and engender historical meaning.
2) Every preservation activity, including copying, will affect some or all of these attributes and may even eliminate, supplement or replace them, and therefore will affect meaning.
3) All preservation actions (except donor or client copying) should seek to preserve the maximum number and quality of attributes and their interrelationships for which the archival record was acquired.
4) The impact on a record of all preservation actions or changes, including copying, must be evident to users, and any effect on meaning must be conveyed to users.

Appendix D

Dual Paradigm of Human-Readable and Technology –Dependent Archival Records

Paradigm 1: Human-Readable Records

Record forms:
- parchment (varied)
- paper (highly varied)
- without a matrix (drawings and paintings, some cartography and some photography, in highly varied media)
- with a matrix (prints, cartography and most photography, in highly varied media)

Means of first production:
- hand
- camera
- printing press
- each record can be made by single, multiple or composite media within one object

Means of copying:
- photographic processes (microform, photocopies, cut film, in various sizes, in b/w and colour)
- digital processes

- usually only one process for each copy
- highly varied original record forms are reduced to limited copy options

Paradigm 2: Technology-Dependent Records

Record forms:
- some photography (varied media)
- film (highly varied media)
- microform (varied media)
- sound (highly varied media)
- video (highly varied media)
- electronic/digital (highly varied media and software); these records can be databases or can imitate products of other media (e.g., text, images, sound).*

Means of first production:
- camera
- recorder
- computer
- each record can be made by single or multiple or composite possible media within one object, even for electronic objects (whose media are also varied)

Means of copying:
- photography
- film
- microform
- sound
- video
- electronic/digital

Impact: - these copies can mimic more closely the attributes of the records they copy, as they use similar, though not identical, means of production * However, the imitative products (whether copies or not) are largely understandable because they communicate meaning the way the media they imitate do, despite being electronic (although there are exceptions); i.e., their denotative and connotative structures mostly derive from those other media.