Library and Archives Canada (LAC; French: Bibliothèque et Archives Canada) is the federal institution, tasked with acquiring, preserving, and providing accessibility to the documentary heritage of Canada. The national archive and library is the fifth largest library in the world. The LAC reports to the Parliament of Canada through the Minister of Canadian Heritage.
|Library and Archives Canada|
|Type||National library and|
|Established||May 21, 2004[note 1]|
|Location||395 Wellington Street,|
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada[note 2]
|Items collected||Aboriginal magazines; albums and scrapbooks; architectural drawings; art; artifacts; Canadian children's literature; Canadian comic books; Canadian newspapers; Canadian periodicals; electronic publications; electronic records; English-language pulp literature; ethnic community newsletters; ephemera; fiction and non-fiction; films; globes; government publications; government records; government websites; Hebraica and Judaica; Indian residential school records; journals and diaries; livres d’artistes; manuscripts; maps; microfilms; photographs; poetry; portraits; rare books; sheet music; sketchbooks; sound recordings; stamps; textual archives; theses and dissertations; trade catalogues; videos|
|Size||22 million books and publications (periodicals, newspapers, microfilms, literary texts, and government publications); 250 km of government and private textual records; 3 million architectural drawings, maps, and plans; 30 million photos; 350,000 hours of film; 425,000 works of art (including paintings, drawings, watercolours, posters, prints, medals, and caricatures); 547,000 musical items; over 1 billion MB of digital content|
|Criteria for collection||Canadiana, documents published in Canada and materials published elsewhere of interest to Canada; records documenting the functions and activities of the Government of Canada; records of heritage value that document the historical development and diversity of Canadian society|
|Staff||860 FTE (2013–14)|
|Parent agency||Canadian Heritage|
The LAC traces its origins to the Dominion Archives, formed in 1872, and the National Library of Canada, formed in 1953. The former was later renamed as the Public Archives of Canada in 1912, and the National Archives of Canada in 1987. In 2004, the National Archives of Canada and the National Library of Canada were merged to form Library and Archives Canada.
The Dominion Archives was founded in 1872 as a division within the Department of Agriculture tasked with acquiring and transcribing documents related to Canadian history. In 1912, the division was transformed into an autonomous organization, Public Archives of Canada, with the new responsibility of managing government documents on all types of media. The organization would be renamed in 1987 as the National Archives of Canada.
In 2004, under the initiative of former National Librarian Roch Carrier and National Archivist Ian E. Wilson, the functions of the National Archives of Canada and the National Library of Canada were combined to form the Library and Archives Canada. The LAC was established per the Library and Archives of Canada Act (Bill C-8), proclaimed on April 22, 2004, with a subsequent Order-in-Council on May 21, which formally united the collections, services, and personnel of the National Archives of Canada and the National Library of Canada. Wilson assumed the position as the first Librarian and Archivist of Canada in July that year.
In June 2004, LAC issued a discussion paper titled Creating a New Kind of Knowledge Institution; after consultation in June 2006, it issued LAC Directions for Change, a document setting out five key directions to define the new institution, including being a new kind of knowedge institution; becominga truly national institution, a collaborative institution that works to stregnthen Canada's documentary heritage; a learning destsination; and an institution in government information management.
LAC's modernization policy provides for transformation from an institution focused on the acquisition and preservation of analogue (non-digital) materials to one that excels in digital access and digital preservation. A Documentary Heritage Management Framework developed in 2009 seeks the right balance between resources dedicated to analogue and digital materials and is based on:
Eight pilot research projects were initiated to validate the framework, including projects on military documentary heritage, aboriginal documentary heritage, and stewardship of newspapers in a digital age. In March 2010 LAC issued its final report on Canadian Digital Information Strategy stakeholder consultations initiated in accordance with its mandate to facilitate co-operation among Canadian knowledge communities. In the same month it issued Shaping Our Continuing Memory Collectively: A Representative Documentary Heritage, a document which outlines how it plans to achieve its modernization objectives.
Despite LAC's stated objectives of continuing to fulfill its mandate by adapting to changes in the information environment and collaboration with others, the actual experience since 2004 has been a reduction in both services and collaboration. Federal funding cuts since 2004 have also impacted on LAC services and acquisitions. A detailed timeline of relevant developments and the decline in LAC services since 2004 has been compiled by the Ex Libris Association.
Following the announcement in the 2012 federal budget of a CDN$9.6 million funding cut over the three years commencing in 2012–13, more than 400 LAC employees received notices which indicated their jobs may be affected and the department announced a 20% reduction of its workforce of about 1,100 over the following three years. The "harsh" wording of a 23-page code of conduct for employees effective January 2013, which "spells out values, potential conflicts of interest and expected behaviours", has been criticized by the Association of Canadian Archivists and the Canadian Association of University Teachers among others. The code describes personal activities including teaching and speaking at or attending conferences as "high risk" activities "with regard to conflict of interest, conflict of duties and duty of loyalty" and participation in such activities is subject to strict conditions. In a section on duty of loyalty, it also cautions employees about expressing personal opinions in social media forums. Only authorized LAC spokespersons may issue statements or make public comments about LAC's mandate and activities, which includes controversial changes related to modernization and budget cuts.
Changes introduced under the management of Ian E. Wilson and Daniel J. Caron have been the subject of controversy and public criticism. Caron asserted that radical change is needed to cope with the influx and demand for digital material and they are subject to federal budget constraints.
Several individuals and organizations voiced concerns about these changes. In 2011, the Canadian Association of University Teachers launched the Save Library & Archives Canada campaign. On May 2, 2012, the Canadian Library Association expressed concern about budget cuts to libraries, both in federal departments and at LAC. In August 2012, the Bibliographical Society of Canada wrote to every Member of Parliament urging them to ensure budget cuts do not compromise LAC's legislated mandate. In a follow-up letter to Heritage Minister James Moore in November 2012, the Society singled out the termination of interlibrary loans as a particularly harmful decision. Bibliophile blogger Nigel Beale characterizes LAC as "Canada's national disgrace" in his blog Literary Tourist. Academic Ian Milligan describes LAC's "rhetoric of modernization" as a "smokescreen" for cutting services in light of the insignificance of and limited accessibility to LAC's online collections on the ActiveHistory.ca website. Historian Valerie Knowles outlines the impact of government cutbacks at LAC and federal government libraries in her article "Closing doors on Canada's history" on the iPolitics website.
On May 31, 2012, the Association of Canadian Archivists announced its withdrawal from forums of LAC's Pan-Canadian Documentary Heritage Network, stating that it does not believe the network can meet the needs and interests of archives across Canada previously met by the National Archival Development Program abruptly terminated by LAC following the 2012 federal funding cut.
Following Caron's resignation in May 2013, a stakeholder coalition issued a joint statement on the qualities of a successful Librarian and Archivist of Canada for official consideration in what they consider a "matter of great national significance":
A broad coalition of Canadian stakeholder organizations has developed the following list of qualities we believe the Librarian and Archivist of Canada should have in order to be successful in this critical position of public trust and responsibility. We believe it is essential that the person appointed to this position at this time possess the necessary qualities to meet the tremendous challenges of dealing with the complex issues of the digital environment in an era of limited financial and human resources and the demands of providing increased public access to the irreplaceable treasures of Canadian documentary heritage.
In June 2013 the Heritage Minister said speeding up the digitization of records will be a priority for the new Librarian and Archivist of Canada. Moore also said he will ask the person appointed to revisit the termination of the National Archival Development Program.
During the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Library and Archives Canada initially failed to produce records requested by the commission in a timely and comprehensive manner and was ordered by an Ontario Superior Court judge to do so. Ultimately, LAC did provide the records, but many were not in digitized and searchable formats as required by the commission.
The Calls to Action of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission explicitly referenced Library and Archives Canada as follows:
We call upon Library and Archives Canada to: fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the United Nations Joinet-Orentlicher principles, as related to Aboriginal peoples' inalienable right to know the truth about what happened and why, with regard to human rights violations committed against them in the residential schools; ensure that its record holding related to residential schools are accessible to the public; [and] commit more resources to its public education materials and programming on residential schools.
Library and Archives Canada has begun to address these concerns by dedicating funding to hire Indigenous archivists, build relationships with Indigenous communities, and support digitization efforts. However, Indigenous-led organizations have drawn attention to the fact that Indigenous communities have been conducting this type of work for decades.
LAC also holds and provides access to archival copies of the websites of organizations related to the TRC, in collaboration with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, the University of Winnipeg Library, and University of Manitoba Libraries.
The building at 395 Wellington Street in downtown Ottawa is the main physical location where the public may access the collection in person. The building was officially opened on June 20, 1967. With the de-emphasis on physical visits, in-person services have been curtailed—for example, since April 2012, reference services are by appointment only—and the role of this building is decreasing. There are also administrative offices in Gatineau, Quebec, and preservation and storage facilities throughout Canada for federal government records.
The Preservation Centre in the city centre of Gatineau, about 10 kilometres away from the Ottawa headquarters, was designed to provide a safe environment for the long-term storage and preservation of Canada's valuable collections. It was built at a cost of CDN$107 million, and the official opening took place on June 4, 1997. It is a unique building containing 48 climate-controlled preservation vaults and state-of-the-art preservation laboratories. In 2000, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada named it one of the top 500 buildings constructed in Canada during the last millennium.
A Nitrate Film Preservation Facility on the Communications Research Centre campus in Shirleys Bay, on the outskirts of Ottawa, houses Canada's cellulose nitrate film collection. The collection contains 5,575 film reels dating back to 1912, including some of the first Canadian motion pictures and photographic negatives. The film material is highly sensitive and requires precise temperatures for its preservation. The state-of-the-art facility, which was officially opened on June 21, 2011, is an eco-designed building featuring an environmentally friendly roof that provides better insulation and minimizes energy expenditures.
A planned key activity for 2013–14 was to rehouse analogue (non-digital) information resources in a new state-of-the-art high-density storage facility in Gatineau, where the national newspaper collection and records of Second World War veterans will be stored. The facility will feature a high bay metal shelving system with a suitable environment to better protect Canada's published heritage. In January 2019, Library and Archives Canada announced that negotiations for a new facility to be built next to the existing one in Gatineau were starting, with an opening date in 2022.
LAC's online collection is accessible via its website and LAC provides ongoing information online via its blog, podcasts, the Twitter and Facebook social networking services, the Flickr image-sharing site, and the YouTube video-sharing site. RSS feeds provide links to new content on the LAC website and news about LAC services and resources. A new modernized website is being developed and is scheduled for completion in 2013, with both new and old websites accessible during the transition period.
The Library and Archives of Canada's holdings include:
Notable items in the collection include:
The LAC also houses more than a petabyte of digital content. Some of this content is available online, primarily books, Canadian theses, and census material—equating to around 5 thousand terabytes of information in electronic format. Many items have not been digitized and are only available in physical form. As of May 2013, only about 1% of the collection had been digitized, representing "about 25 million of the more popular and most fragile items."
LAC is expected to maintain "effective recordkeeping practices that ensure transparency and accountability".
The head of Canada's national archives was known as the Dominion Archivist from 1872 to 1987 and the National Archivist from 1987 to 2004.
|Name||Period in office||Note|
|Librarian and Archivist of Canada|
|Leslie Weir||2019–incumbent||first woman to hold this role|
|Daniel J. Caron||2009–13|
|Ian E. Wilson||2004–09||Wilson held the position of National Archivist from 1999, and transitioned from there into the role of the Librarian and Archivist of Canada with the establishment of the LAC.|
|National Librarian of Canada|
|William Kaye Lamb||1953–68|
|Ian E. Wilson||1999–2004||National Archivist until the role was merged with that of the National Librarian of Canada following the establishment of the LAC. Wilson would continue as the Librarian and Archivist of Canada until 2009.|
|Jean-Pierre Wallot||1985–97||Dominion Archivist until position was renamed National Archivist in 1987.|
|Wilfred I. Smith||1970–84||Dominion Archivist|
|William Kaye Lamb||1948–68||Dominion Archivist|
|Gustave Lanctot||1937–48||Dominion Archivist|
|James F. Kenney||1935-37||Acting Dominion Archivist|
|Sir Arthur George Doughty||1904–35||Dominion Archivist. A statue of Doughty is located on the north side of the LAC building in Ottawa.|
|Douglas Brymner||1872–1902||Dominion Archivist|
The LAC collection... 20 million books, periodicals, newspapers, microfilms, literary texts and government publications; 167,000 linear metres of government and private textual records; 3 million architectural drawings, maps and plans; 24 million photographs; 350,000 hours of film; 425,000 pieces of art, including paintings, drawings, watercolours, posters, prints, medals and caricatures; 547,000 musical items; more than a billion megabytes of digital content
In 1872, the Canadian government created an Archives Division within the Department of Agriculture; its mandate was to acquire and transcribe documents related to Canadian history. In 1912, parliamentary legislation transformed this division into an autonomous organization, the Public Archives of Canada, and confirmed its responsibility to manage government documents. The mandate of the new institution focused on the acquisition of documents on all types of media, putting into practice the innovative concept of 'total archives.' Further legislation in 1987 clarified and reinforced the role and responsibilities of the Public Archives of Canada, which was then renamed the National Archives of Canada. In October 2002, in order to improve access to Canada’s documentary heritage, the government announced the creation of a new institution, Library and Archives Canada, which united the National Archives of Canada and the National Library of Canada (founded in 1953).
Following his appointment in the spring of 1985, he was given the task of reviewing the Public Archives Act of 1912, which led to the federal institution’s first name change. The institution that had been known as the Public Archives of Canada since 1872 was renamed the National Archives of Canada.
Last Stage Completed: Royal Assent (2004-04-22). Coming Into Force: Her Excellency the Governor General in Council hereby fixes May 21, 2004 as the day on which that Act comes into force, other than sections 21, 53 and 54, which came into force on assent.
Under the guidance of the new Deputy Head, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has identified new strategic directions for the organization and implemented a change management agenda. More broadly, LAC continues to adapt to technological changes in dealing with its mandate to preserve and make available the documentary heritage of Canada. LAC has commenced a modernization initiative and has also established a "Documentary Heritage Management Framework" to meet the challenges of collecting and preserving information in an environment that is transitioning from analogue production to digital production.
Caron oversaw $10 million in budget cuts in recent years, laying off dozens of staff, eliminating grants to independent archives across the country and, most controversially, ending an interlibrary loan program that massively expanded the reach of the government collections.
The federal government's 2012 budget outlined cuts of $9.6 million over three years to Library and Archives Canada
A spokesman for Library and Archives Canada confirmed to The Globe and Mail that the current workforce of 1,065 will be reduced to 850 people over the next three years, as a result of the 2012 federal budget cuts.
The federal government is eliminating a series of libraries and archives throughout different departments as part of the latest budget cuts. Library and Archives Canada alone has received or will still receive more than 400 affected notices and the department announced 20 per cent of its workforce would be let go.
The code says employees may accept speaking invitations as long as they don’t speak about LAC’s mandate and activities. Caron has countered criticism by saying he has to work within the budget imposed by the federal government and his focus must be less on collecting artifacts and books and more on preserving Canada’s digital record.
'The community has great concerns about the direction of Library and Archives Canada, and has had for a few years now.' ... Those concerns include where cuts are being made and how modernization is occurring, Marrelli said.
Hervé Déry, assistant deputy minister of policy and collaboration at LAC, will temporarily replace Caron, who had been critical of the archivist and librarian community for resisting the necessary push to collecting digital born material and digitizing more popular items at LAC.
Much of Library and Archives Canada's collection has not been digitized and is only available in physical form. To use this material, you will have to visit one of our locations.
Our website now gets close to half a million visits per month. In contrast, LAC’s in-person service hub located at 395 Wellington Street, receives about 2,000 visits per month. These two service points are also trending in opposite directions, with online consultations increasing rapidly, and in-person visits declining slowly but steadily.
As part of a composite project to respond to the needs of the National Archives of Canada, including the need to arrest the deterioration of records in existing storage facilities, a new conservation and laboratory building was constructed in the city centre of Gatineau, Quebec, at a total project cost of $107 million.
It was recently announced that funding was received from Treasury Board to convert a building (formerly, a Zellers department store) in Gatineau into a high-density storage facility.
Much of the $20-million decrease in the Library and Archives Canada budget is accounted for in the conversion of the building in Gatineau to a high-density shelving collection storage facility, which is nearly complete.
This original copy of the Proclamation of the Constitution Act, 1982 is the one which was signed by HM Queen Elizabeth II on Parliament Hill, 17 April 1982. Damaged slightly by rain during the signing ceremony, this version is informally known as the 'raindrop' copy.
After lengthy consultations with government departments, a Bill was tabled in the House of Commons and was enacted into law on March 25, 1987. The institution which had been known as the Public Archives of Canada since 1872 was renamed the National Archives of Canada, and the Federal Archivist became the National Archivist.
He was appointed the Librarian and Archivist of Canada on April 24, 2009.
Ian E. Wilson has just retired as the first Librarian and Archivist of Canada. Appointed as National Archivist in 1999, he and the National Librarian, Roch Carrier, OC, developed and led the process to create a new knowledge institution for Canada in the 21st century, the integrated Library and Archives of Canada. When the legislation came into force in May, 2004, Ian Wilson took on this new responsibility.
Dr. Wilson served as National Archivist of Canada, 1999 to 2004, and then as head of the newly amalgamated Library and Archives Canada. He retired in 2009 and received the unusual honour of being named Librarian and Archivist of Canada Emeritus.
Minister of Canadian Heritage Sheila Copps announced today the appointments of Ian Wilson to the position of National Archivist of Canada and Roch Carrier as National Librarian of Canada. Mr. Carrier will replace the current National Librarian, Marianne Scott, who has held the position since 1984.
He was Associate National Librarian (1956-1968) and then National Librarian (1968-1983) at the National Library of Canada.
Dr. Lamb was appointed as Canada's first national librarian in 1953 ... Dr. Lamb retired as national librarian in 1968 and as Dominion archivist in January 1969.
The position of national archivist was vacant for more than two years, from the retirement of Dr. Jean-Pierre Wallot on June 6, 1997, to the announcement of my appointment on July 5, 1999.
The first is known as a pioneer of archival administration in Canada whose work as Dominion Archivist from 1948 to 1968 made the Public Archives of Canada a truly modern institution ... Most of their personal papers kept at the NA relate to the period in which they led the institution from 1948 to 1984.
He joined the Public Archives of Canada in Ottawa in 1950. From 1963 to 1968, Smith held various managerial positions within the Archives: chief of the Manuscript Division (1963-1964), director of the Historical Branch (1964-1965), Assistant Dominion Archivist (1965-1968) and Acting Dominion Archivist (1968-1970). In 1970, he was appointed Dominion Archivist, a position he held until his retirement in 1984.
In 1937 he was appointed deputy minister and Dominion Archivist, a position he would hold until his retirement in 1948.