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Access - Library and Archives Canada 2007  -  2008


At Library and Archives Canada we face a unique challenge, to reach Canadians and to engage with our stakeholders in a world where everything is changing, even the nature of knowledge itself.

We have started moving forward. We have become leaders and partners in the digital revolution, providing online services and virtual exhibitions, creating national strategies and building relationships throughout the knowledge world. We are reaching out to Canadians by putting our collections on the road, developing new search tools and finding aids, and using the power of television to de­mystify the search for family history. We continue to build our national memory through major acquisitions and donations, and to care for our collections and preserve them for future generations. And we gather the evidence of who we are and what we stand for in all its forms -- whether it is a government website, a pair of moccasins, a rare book, or a family tree.

We can’t do it alone. There is too much information. But knowledge contains the power to change. Working with and through our partners, we can have a major impact.

On lives. On histories. On futures.

Table of Contents


Human invention, innovation and creativity increase every day at unprecedented speeds. It’s our job to respond. Our passion. At Library and Archives Canada (LAC), we engage the past, present and future of human endeavours. From our foibles to our ingenuity. From family history to making history.

But how do you call up the past? How do you capture the fleeting present? How do you inform the future? By providing access to a world of memoirs, articles, publications, art, news clippings, film, music, lectures, documents, exhibits and so much more. Because everyone has a story.

These stories are waiting to be discovered, and we provide the tools of discovery. More than you could possibly have imagined. This publication illustrates how flexible LAC has become in creating access to everything that helps us define who we are, our role in the world, and our place in history.

Let’s talk. Mandate and vision.

Our mandate

  • To preserve the documentary heritage of Canada for the benefit of present and future generations.
  • To serve as a source of enduring knowledge, accessible to all, and which contributes to the cultural, social and economic advancement of Canada as a free and democratic society.
  • To facilitate in Canada cooperation among the communities involved in the acquisition, preservation and diffusion of knowledge.
  • To serve as the continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions.

Our vision of Library and Archives Canada

  • A new kind of knowledge institution.
  • A truly national institution.
  • An organization that works in partnership with others.
  • A prime learning destination.
  • A leader in government recordkeeping.

Our priorities

  • To acquire and preserve Canada’s heritage.
  • To build our digital capacity.
  • To broaden access for all Canadians.
  • To manage the vital records of the Government of Canada.
  • To work with our partners to deliver our mandate.
  • To consult with our clients on their needs and viewpoints.

News and highlights

Still getting rave reviews

On September 11, 2007, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave the people of Australia a historic treasure, the oldest, surviving document ever printed in Australia. The story behind the discovery of the playbill, printed in Sydney in 1796, is intriguing.

The playbill for a July 30, 1796, production of Jane Shore, was discovered by one of Library and Archives Canada’s rare book librarians. It had been tucked into a 150-year-old scrapbook transferred to LAC by the Library of Parliament in 1973. The Librarian and Archivist of Canada contacted the National Library of Australia to report the find and seek their expertise in proving the playbill was authentic. To everyone’s delight, experts from both countries confirmed its authenticity. Preservation experts at LAC prepared the fragile playbill for its long journey home. The playbill is now on exhibition in the new Treasures Gallery of Australia’s National Library.

A new role

The International Council of Archives (ICA) representing 1,400 members in 190 countries, is dedicated to the preservation, development and use of the world’s archival heritage. Ian E. Wilson, the Librarian and Archivist of Canada, was elected President of ICA in March 2008 for two years beginning in July 2008, following the ICA Congress in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He shares with his colleagues “a deep commitment to the vital role that archives play in our complex society.” Participation from LAC members in international roles are shared by many, such as Richard Green, President, International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives and Ingrid Parent, Chair of the IFLA Section on National Libraries.

Open for discussion

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is committed to providing our clients with the services they need. To ensure this, LAC set up a program of ongoing public consultations in February 2008. Open to all Canadians, they include public meetings as well as the chance to comment through the Internet, by post and by telephone. Two public meetings were held in February, which led to expanded service hours.

LAC also established a Services Advisory Board, which brings various client communities from across Canada together to consider service issues related to LAC’s mandate. The Board has already met twice, and information about these discussions is posted on LAC’s website.

Chinese immigration

A new research tool launched by LAC in May 2008 provides online access to more than 98,000 references to Chinese immigrants who arrived in Canada between 1885 and 1949. The General Registers of Chinese Immigration were indexed by the Department of History at the University of British Columbia, who helped create the new database in partnership with the Genealogy and Family History. The Immigrants from China database will also form part of a virtual exhibition set to launch in late 2008.

Reporting the strange but true

Delegates to the 74th World Congress of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), held in Québec in August 2008, received a special gift. Reaching Out: Innovations in Canadian Libraries, is a joint publication of Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec and Library and Archives Canada. It brings together 30 of the most contemporary and unusual library projects in Quebec and across our nation, and vividly portrays the emerging trends in library science.

We have that issue

Often referred to as the official newspaper of the Government of Canada, the Canada Gazette has been available to Canadians at most libraries and through subscription. But the digitization of this material, started by LAC in 2007, means that eventually visitors will be able to access every issue, from 1841 to 1998, online.

Statistics round-up (2007)

  • Total acquisitions for Canadian archival and special collections:
    • 263,524 items, including sound recordings, films, videos, philatelic, art and photographic records, architectural and cartographic material, music records and microforms
    • 23 terabytes of electronic records
    • 234 metres of textual records
  • Canadian publications acquired: 73,555
  • Canadian publications catalogued: 61,362
  • Materials circulated: 231,858
  • Images digitized: 616,661
  • Books and archival materials treated (for preservation or restoration): 27,110
  • Public opinion research reports received: 368
  • Reference inquiries answered: 47,682

The new media: shift

Information. Our most precious national resource.

Crawl, log, blog or surf Canada

Canadians can now access archived government websites through the Government of Canada Web Archive, launched by Library and Archives Canada in 2007. The site already contains over 100 million digital objects of archived website data, such as the site for the Law Commission of Canada, which no longer exists. Clients can search by keyword, by department name, URL or format type. Twice a year the archive will crawl the public domain in search of sites to add.

Web archiving statistics
1st harvest of (Dec.2005- Mar. 2006)
2nd harvest of (Oct.2006- Apr. 2007)
3rd harvest of (Nov.2007- Feb. 2008)
Total number of URLs
Total number of crawl jobs
Total number of digital objects downloaded
Total size downloaded (in terabytes)

“Archives and libraries, by virtue of the power and potential of the information they hold, are among the key facilitators of future economic and social development.” Ian E. Wilson, speaking at the conference on “The Future of the Internet Economy,” held in Seongnam City, Korea, February 2008

Open source

The software tools used in LAC’s Web Archive, known as open source tools, were developed by Internet Archive (IA), a non-profit organization which is part of the International Internet Preservation Consortium. The IA is dedicated to preserving the Web and to collecting a library of the world’s digital resources. LAC’s Web Archive is the first major Canadian archive to use this leading edge software.

“As new generations of ‘digital natives’ enter the scene, and baby boomers exit the workforce, information professionals must be poised to meet the differing needs of multiple generations. Digital natives are people who have grown up with computers and other information technology and have fully embedded such technology into their lives. They view the Internet like older generations view electricity, they only notice it if it isn’t available.”

Information Management Environmental Scan, prepared for LAC by Outsell, Inc., March 2008

The scoop on digitization

Canadians want direct online access to their documentary heritage, 93 percent of them, in fact. Yet only 30 percent of Canadians are satisfied with the quality of Canadian content online. In 2007 - 2008, Library and Archives Canada began a mass digitization program designed to systematically digitize its collection. During its first five months, the program digitized finding aids to improve access to archival records, as well as city directories, early Canadian literature, maps of Western Canada from the Department of Indian Affairs, late 19th-century naturalization records, photographs related to Great Lakes shipping, and the records of  Sir John A. Macdonald. In 2008 - 2009 the program will be extended to include other parts of the LAC collection, such as newspapers, finding aids, and official publications such as Hansard.

A single window view

Tying information together, which has been built and collected over time using different technologies, is a 21st century challenge. Federated Search is LAC’s way of tying together its library and archival holdings, both published and unpublished, through a single window.

By providing access to all LAC information resources, Federated Search offers an integrated search capability for primary resources, AMICUS (the LAC library catalogue), Mikan (archival descriptions), Ancestors (combined genealogical databases) and the LAC website. Eventually, Federated Search will allow clients to search the entire union catalogue, containing 38 million records of material held in 1,300 libraries and 7 million records spanning our archival collections and those of 200 archives across Canada.

Access to family history

Genealogy begins as an interest
Becomes a hobby;
Continues as an avocation,
Takes over as an obsession,
And in its last stages,
Is an incurable disease.

LAC’s newly redesigned Genealogy and Family History website combines thousands of immigration, military, public service, land and census records into a single (federated) search, as well as offering research advice and guidance. The website also contains two powerful new search tools. Ancestors Search, developed by LAC, joins 18 genealogical databases into one search. That’s My Family, developed in partnership with Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, allows the user to access a variety of federal, provincial, and territorial genealogy and family history databases. That’s My Family is supported by the Council of Provincial and Territorial Archivists of Canada.

Crawl, log, blog or surf Canada

Canadians can now access archived government websites through the Government of Canada Web Archive, launched by Library and Archives Canada in 2007. The site already contains over 100 million digital objects of archived website data, such as the site for the Law Commission of Canada, which no longer exists. Clients can search by keyword, by department name, URL or format type. Twice a year the archive will crawl the public domain in search of sites to add.
“Archives and libraries, by virtue of the power and potential of the information they hold, are among the key facilitators of future economic and social development.” Ian E. Wilson, speaking at the conference on “The Future of the Internet Economy,” held in Seong-nam City, Korea, February 2008

Ancestors search

One search, over two million entries

1871 Census
Court Martials
Home Children
Immigration (1925 - 1935)
Montréal Emigrant Society
Port of New Westminster
Soldiers of the First World War
Soldiers of the South African War
Upper Canada and Canada West Naturalization
Western Land Grants
Upper and Lower Canada Marriage Bonds
Lower Canada Land Petitions
Citizenship registration (Montréal circuit court)
Gaspé Land Commission

For the record: e-publications

Canadian publishers are required by law to send copies of their publications to Library and Archives Canada, where they become part of the permanent record of Canada’s documentary heritage. This database can be searched by anyone and shared with other information organizations around the world. In 2006 - 2007, over 30,000 publications were added to LAC’s permanent collection.

In January 2007, the scope of legal deposit was broadened to include online and Internet publications of all types, including books, periodicals and newspapers. Our electronic collection is already one of the largest of its kind in the world.

The development of Aboriginal collections, especially in the fields of Aboriginal language learning, educational material and children’s literature, is a special focus for the Legal Deposit section. Legal Deposit staff continues to contact publishers throughout Canada in a concerted effort to strengthen this aspect of LAC’s collection.

Website facts and figures for

Visitors who visited more than once
Average number of visits per day
Page views
Average per day
Average page views per visit

Canada’s electronic collection

LAC’s Electronic Collection contains the growing body of Canadian published materials available on the Internet as well as entire websites that either originated in Canada or are of interest to Canadians. It currently includes roughly 20,000 titles published online by commercial and government publishers.

These online publications are archived in their original formats, and can be searched via the Web or retrieved in their entirety from LAC’s online Electronic Collection.

Other automated services

Every book sold in Canada needs an International Standard Book Number (ISBN), provided through Library and Archives Canada. In August 2007, LAC replaced the outdated manual procedure of assigning these numbers with an automated system called the Canadian ISBN Service System (CISS). Now any Canadian publisher can register online, day or night, and receive their assigned ISBNs.

A new automated system for registering and requesting records was established at LAC Regional Service Centres across Canada. These centres store and manage government records, provide reference services, and hold back-up copies of vital electronic records which the government would need in a disaster or emergency.

Literacy and learning

Confidence through literacy

“To hold a book in our hands is to hold a promise of freedom, discovery and adventure. Getting caught up in words and phrases, discovering worlds that others have created, travelling through time and space, accessing knowledge: there is no greater joy than reading!”

Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, in the Canada Council for the Arts news release dated November 27, 2007

TD Summer Reading Club

Thanks to the efforts of the 2,000 local libraries who contributed to literacy by delivering the TD Summer Reading Club, Canadian children read almost two million books in the summer of 2007. The club is a partnership between the TD Bank Financial Group, Library and Archives Canada and the Toronto Public Library. Statistics showed that over 248,000 children registered for the program while almost 433,000 participated. Librarians planned and delivered over 21,000 library programs and activities designed to keep children reading throughout the summer. The clubs are also designed to strengthen their reading skills, foster new reading habits, and encourage children to visit their library regularly.

Read Up On It

Read up on It is an annotated list of Canadian children’s books in both official languages. The goals are to introduce young readers, parents, educators and librarians to these books, to promote Canadian authors and illustrators, and to encourage reading. Each year, books are selected based on a theme. Read Up On It also lists award-winning Canadian books, and books available in multiple formats for readers who are print disabled.

ARCHIVED - Children's literature service

The Children’s Literature Service at LAC consists of more than 160,000 books of fiction and non-fiction, published in French, English and other languages. Of interest to children and teenagers up to 16 years of age, this complete collection of Canadian works traces the history of children’s books in Canada. A world-class reference collection and a significant collection of children’s writers and illustrators, literary archives, manuscripts, correspondence and original illustrations enhance its value as a research collection.

Learning centre

The educational resources provided by Library and Archives Canada are tailored for students and their teachers from elementary through to intermediate and secondary school. Everything from The Kids’ Site of Canadian Trains to The Evidence Web to Life of a Rock Star, which covers the Geological Survey of Canada in an unusual way. Among these resources, tailored to the Canadian curriculum and pointing users to award-winning Canadian books and fascinating celebrities, are classroom activities, complete teaching units, extensive databases, lesson plans and games. And it’s all online.

An unusual acquisition

An unusual children’s picture book written in 1945 about Canadian soldiers in Holland joined LAC’s Children’s Literature collection in April 2008. Hi Ha Canada, purchased from the Antiquaria at Gemilang bookstore in Bredevoort, The Netherlands, was selected because it reflects the important role the Canadian army played during the Second World War. Few children’s books describe the celebrations at the end of a war, especially in terms of Canada’s role. The book’s superb craftsmanship, excellent condition, rare paper stock and limited edition make it a treasure for collectors.

Building the national memory

Our collective imagination

“Canadians must be able to find their own communities’ heritage and culture within our collection. They must see themselves, their past, in what we hold.”
Directions for Library and Archives Canada, 2004. available at

Lord Elgin Collection

Library and Archives Canada, working in partnership with the Canadian Museum of Civilization (CMC), reached an agreement in principle with the present Earl of Elgin in March 2008, in acquiring an extraordinary private collection of archival materials and museum artifacts accumulated by James Bruce, the 8th Earl of Elgin and 12th Earl of Kincardine, and his family. The repatriation of the documents, letters, diaries, watercolours and sketches, along with the artifacts, will take place once the Export Licence is issued in Great Britain.

Lord Elgin’s long term as the Governor-in-Chief of the Province of Canada, from 1847 until 1854, was marked by events that shaped the development of a nation. His best-known achievements include implementing Responsible Government in March 1848, and negotiating the Reciprocity Treaty with the United States in 1854. He also promoted the maple leaf as a unifying emblem, encouraged cultural and industrial developments, and fostered the negotiation of treaties with Aboriginal peoples.

One exceptional aspect of the Lord Elgin Collection is that over a fifth is created by women. Lord Elgin’s letters to his wife and other family members offer one insight into the role of women at that time, but the words and pictures of his wife and daughter enable us to see Canada through their eyes. Among the artifacts going to the CMC are two paving stones hurled at Lord Elgin by a mob who objected to his giving Royal Assent to the Rebellion Losses Bill in 1849. With a remarkable sense of history, Lady Elgin collected these stones from his carriage, labelled them, and ensured their preservation in the family museum.

The Lord Elgin Collection gives Canadians access to an important part of their history. Digital copies of archived materials will be posted on LAC’s website for researchers in Canada and around the world. Selected items will also be included in future travelling exhibitions across Canada.

Peter Winkworth Collection of Canadiana

For more than 50 years, Montréal-born Peter Winkworth collected works of art and artifacts relating to Canadian history, a collection unequalled by any other private collection in the world. In March 2002, the former National Archives of Canada acquired more than 4,000 works of art from Mr. Winkworth. Through four exhibitions organized by Library and Archives Canada, some 242 works from the Winkworth collection have been touring Canada in 12 separate cities. The balance of the collection, including major works relating to First Nations life, and the early history of Quebec, Ontario, the Canadian West and the Maritimes, has just been acquired by LAC.

The Peter Winkworth Collection is considered one of the last great private collections of visual Canadiana, and its acquisition by LAC means it will be accessible to Canadians today and preserved for future generations. It includes paintings, watercolours, drawings, prints, albums and sketchbooks, art publications, 19th-century tourist guides and city brochures, sculptures, and artifacts like the wooden small-scale model for the Wolfe and Montcalm Monument in Québec.

Stanley Grizzle

A special citizenship ceremony at Rideau Hall in 2007 honoured the achievements and contributions of Stanley G. Grizzle, a leading figure in the Black Canadian community and the Canadian labour movement. Mr. Grizzle donated his papers to Library and Archives Canada to share his experiences and to encourage other Canadians to make similar donations. He was the first appointed Black Canadian judge in the Canadian Court of Citizenship, and his records describe his work both in the trade and labour union movements and in anti-racism and human rights campaigns.

The Friends of Library and Archives Canada

The Friends of Library and Archives Canada support LAC by raising funds for the acquisition of rare and valuable archival and library materials. An important contribution in 2007 was the Michel Picard Collection of rare 78 rpm recordings manufactured by the Berliner Gramophone Company of Montréal. Among other treasures the Friends have donated: two vintage posters advertising the 1919 silent film based on Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, which were found under a carpet in a small Michigan town; a piano score of Bach’s Goldberg Variations annotated by renowned Canadian pianist Glenn Gould; and a collection of paintings illustrating Louis Hémon’s novel Maria Chapdelaine.

The Friends also run the popular Kaleidoscope series, where audiences have the chance to hear experts describe treasures from LAC’s collections. In addition to their annual giant book sale, which raises thousands of dollars for LAC, the Friends also sell antiquarian books and documents, and serve as important ambassadors for LAC by encouraging public support for their work.

Volunteers for the Friends support a wide range of cultural events hosted at LAC in Ottawa. They also administer the Marianne Scott Endowment Fund for the Canadiana Collection and support the Jacob M. Lowy Collection of rare Hebraica and Judaica.

Rare musical recordings

Well-known Quebec discographer Michel Picard has gathered thousands of recordings from all regions of Quebec. Over the years he has offered many of these collections to LAC, including a comprehensive collection of recordings by Mary Travers Bolduc, known as “La Bolduc.” An amazing new collection of 90 extremely rare 78 rpm recordings manufactured by the Berliner Gramophone Company of Montréal is the latest LAC acquisition from the indomitable Mr. Picard! The recordings include English and French popular music, band music, and hymns, and feature musicians such as Henri Cartal and Robert Price, among the first singers to record in Canada, and Henry Burr, a tenor from New Brunswick who made over 12,000 records from the early 1900s to the late 1920s.

Moe Koffman

Best known for his 1958 international hit, “Swingin’ Shepherd Blues,” the renowned jazz flautist and saxophonist Moe Koffman (1928 - 2001) was one of the first Canadian jazz artists to adopt the new and demanding bebop style in the late 1940s. He was a soloist in the celebrated Canadian big band, The Boss Brass, and his longstanding jazz quartet and quintet toured Canada and the world for over four decades, sometimes joined by jazz giant, Dizzy Gillespie. During Canadian Music Week, Library and Archives Canada announced a major donation from his wife, Gisèle Koffman, which included sheet music for compositions and arrangements; sound, video, and film recordings of musical performances; and graphic materials such as photographs, drawings, and artwork for albums.

“Film, video and sound recordings are vital components of our collective memory. They are the animate testimonials of our achievements over the past 100 years, documenting for all generations to come the hopes, the successes and the differences that have informed the views we hold of ourselves, of the world, and of our visions for the future.”

Jean-Pierre Wallot,
former National Archivist of Canada

Campaigning for our future by preserving our past

Each year Canadians donate precious and valuable documents to LAC, ones that detail the social, cultural and economic history of the nation.

Recent donations include:

  • the pencil, pen, charcoal, conté crayon and ink drawings by A.Y. Jackson, were donated by family descendants;

  • selected productions by OMNI TV, the multicultural network with stations in communities across Canada;

  • the Tim Kotcheff fonds, which include an amateur film of a canoe trip to the north by Pierre Elliott Trudeau and his friends;

  • the first Canadian edition of Agatha Christie’s first book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, given by Friends of Library and Archives Canada; and

  • the fonds of Québécoise writer Hélène Dorion, who won the 2006 Governor General’s Award for Literature.

Mapping our world

Thousands of new items are added each year through the cartography, architecture and geomatics unit of LAC. The collection includes more than two million printed, manuscript or digital maps, globes, atlases, and architectural or technical drawings on countless subjects. The earliest map in our holdings dates from 1508. While most of this collection is stored in LAC’s world-class preservation centre, the most prestigious items are nearly all microfilmed and/or scanned. Researchers are invited to use the copy in the consultation areas, or increasingly online, thus preventing damage to the originals.

Building tomorrow’s audiovisual heritage today

Simply put, audiovisual records do not last as long as paper, but LAC has been a leader in preserving our film and broadcast heritage by acquiring these records at the time of their creation. LAC was the first national archive to preserve newscasts permanently by recording them off-air in the late 1970s and then via satellite in 1984, a concept adopted by many other archives throughout the world. LAC currently records all the nightly newscasts of Canada’s major television networks. LAC also negotiated an agreement with Telefilm Canada so that filmmakers must provide LAC with a preservation quality copy of their film or television program before receiving final payment, an innovative approach that links production, distribution and preservation together. The audiovisual unit has also created 390,000 item-level descriptions so that 80 percent of LAC’s audiovisual holdings can be accessed worldwide through a keyword search on the LAC website. Take a peek at our audiovisual heritage, by accessing the ARCHIVED - Virtual Silver Screen on LAC’s website, which features an award-winning design and samples of Canada’s early film heritage.

Connecting Canadians

Channels that engage our audiences across space and time.

Responding to the digital environment

“We welcome the comprehensiveness, clarity and accessibility of the strategy, which we think could form a very useful model for other national strategies. We commend the leadership of Library and Archives Canada in developing the strategy.”
David Hunter, Strategic Policy Manager and Simon Bains, Digital Library Manager, National Library of Scotland, November 2007

The Canadian Digital Information Strategy is a national plan designed to meet the needs of Canadians in the digital age. Library and Archives Canada developed the strategy with input from public and private sector stakeholders from across Canada, including publishing and media producers, creators, rights bodies, academics, federal and provincial officials, and memory institutions. The strategy is currently posted online for public consultation and review.

A blueprint for the 21st century

The vision of the Canadian Digital Information Strategy (CDIS) is broad:

Canada’s digital information assets are created, managed and preserved to ensure that a significant Canadian digital presence and record are available to present and future generations, and that Canada’s position in a global digital information environment is enhanced.

The strategy has three main goals:

  • Strengthened content
    So that over time, Canada’s information assets and accumulated knowledge are in digital form.
  • Ensured preservation
    So that Canadians have ongoing access to their country’s digital knowledge and information assets, and future generations will have evidence of our intellectual and creative accomplishments.
  • Maximum access
    So that Canadians will have optimal access to digital information important to their learning, businesses and work, leisure activities and cultural identity; and Canadian content will be showcased to the world.

Obviously no single organization or group can achieve these goals alone. At every step of its development, CDIS proposes a completely collaborative model among the players involved. LAC is also developing a suite of Trusted Digital Repository (TDR) services, in partnership with content creators and other institutions that share common digital issues. The TDR services will allow LAC to acquire and preserve more of the rapidly growing volume of Canadian digital documentary heritage, ensuring reliable, long-term access to these resources. As a result, people will be able to find digital resources, thanks to persistent naming, archival and metadata practices, as well as preservation strategies that will enable long-term access to obsolete file formats.

CDIS: key areas for action

  • Mass digitization on a national scale
  • Better digital production practices
  • Selection and capture of digital content for long-term retention
  • Distributed digital preservation repository network
  • Preservation-related research
  • New workplace skills
  • Increased public awareness of importance of digital preservation
  • Seamless access and global visibility
  • More open access to public sector information
  • Effective communication and management of copyright

Plugged in, eh.

“The Canada Project is based on a simple, but audacious premise. We can, and should, digitize all of Canada’s extensive published cultural and scientific heritage.”
Overview description of the Canada Project

A complete online library of Canadian content

The Canada Project will give Canadians online access to the vast wealth of Canada’s accumulated knowledge. For the first time in history, it is technically possible to put all knowledge at the fingertips of Canadians wherever they are, whatever they are engaged in, and no matter which network-accessing device they are using.

The Canada Project is the first initiative of the Canadian Digital Information Strategy (CDIS). Under the leadership of LAC, and in partnership with the University of Waterloo, Open Text Corporation, Bibliothèque et archives nationales du Québec, and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries, the Project will encourage institutions, organizations and businesses across Canada to pool their contents and create a unique showcase of our nation’s ingenuity.

Vast quantities of analog and digital contents are presently scattered across the country and underutilized. The Canada Project taps into this exceptional intellectual capital to create a national advantage for research and development, knowledge transfer, and commercial applications. It also enhances creativity and nurtures cultural innovation by offering youth and artists from all disciplines a vibrant and enduring source of inspiration. Finally, it contributes to a stronger sense of identity and pride by establishing a unique digital space where Canadians everywhere can communicate and learn about themselves, their ingenuity, their values, and their democratic institutions.

The Canada Project is based on five key principles:

  • Open collaboration with no transfer of ownerships or rights;
  • Maximum public access to a growing body of content;
  • Respect for copyright and intellectual property;
  • Linguistic duality and cultural diversity; and
  • Long-term access for future generations.

First steps…

A vast majority of Canadians want online access to Canadian content but only a minority is satisfied with the quantity and quality of information presently available. As a first step, the organizations involved in the Canada Project will begin to digitize their own collections. At the same time, cultural institutions and groups, content producers from all sectors, and the academic community will look for the best models to collect, preserve, promote, transfer, and use made-in-Canada data in many formats.

“With the explosion of information technologies and the widespread access that exists in every corner of the country, Canada is at the cusp of a new revolution, the information revolution. The Canada Project is a timely vision to ensure that Canadians are able to seize the cultural, social and economic opportunities of the digital age, to compete in the global innovation economy, and to lead in the 21st century.”

Ian E. Wilson, The Extraordinary Symons Lecture
on the State of Confederation, February 2008

LAC Forum on Democracy

Connecting Canadians today with historical and contemporary information is a constant challenge for Library and Archives Canada. The LAC Forum, created in November 2007, combines live and online programming to enable Canadians to easily access LAC’s rich collection of government and political resources; to interpret Canada’s political record with
in-depth historical, contemporary and documentary materials; and to participate in an open discussion about Canada’s political life.

The Forum also establishes partnerships with academic, cultural and government institutions to exchange information and ideas. In 2007 - 2008 LAC partnered with the University of Ottawa Graduate School of Public and International Affairs to create the Forum’s first event: a panel of well-known Canadian journalists discussing “Legacies and Legends: Prime Ministers and Their Memoirs.”

We’ll always have Paris

Political junkies everywhere, get your fix! The Political Junkie Café, launched through the LAC Forum on Canadian Democracy in May 2008, invites Canadians to get together over hors d’œuvres and get involved in some lively debates over a range of political subjects. Each café will be hosted by a moderator and feature a different topic each month.

What you’ll find at the Forum

  • LAC databases, web exhibitions and other online resources on Canadian government and politics
  • Guest essays and articles on selected topics
  • LAC documentary heritage collections, including Cabinet conclusions
  • Newly released major holdings or additions related to current affairs, public figures and historical events
  • News releases
  • Public events and new resources
  • Research aids and digital resources

Who Do You Think You Are?

Who Do You Think You Are is the groundbreaking CBC television series that has put LAC on the map, changed the public perception of historical research, and linked a government institution to a whole new generation. In partnership with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation,, and the Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund, this major partnership initiative has changed the way Canadians think about history, genealogy, and the whole business of historical research.

This 13-part television documentary series featured Canadian celebrities such as Margaret Trudeau, Chantal Kreviazuk and Lewis MacKenzie and their family histories. Based on a wildly successful BBC show, the Canadian version introduced millions of Canadians not only to the process of researching family history, but to Library and Archives Canada itself. The positive results were almost instantaneous, the night the first episode aired, 92,000 Web searches were launched before midnight, and during the last episode, that number was at 110,000. Use of LAC’s website has increased by 50 percent since the inception of the show.

10:10:55 AM Fri, Mar 26 2010

Summary of results

The series has had a direct and noticeable spillover effect in visitors to the Genealogy and Family History website among Canadians:

  • Increased awareness about LAC genealogy resources, from 28 to 35 percent
  • Increased interest in family history (70 percent)
  • 18 percent audience direct response
  • 14 percent did online research
  • Increased time online as series progressed (from 16 to 22 minutes)
  • Increased new visitors
  • New visitors became repeat visitors through the series

Equitable access

On October 2, 2007, Library and Archives Canada launched a three year, $3-million Initiative to produce a strategy that would allow Canadians with print disabilities to have sustainable and equitable public library access. The Initiative for Equitable Library Access (IELA) will develop a strategy to meet the long-term public library and information access needs of Canadians with print disabilities, estimated at three million people. These Canadians need publications in multiple formats, such as Braille, audio, large print and electronic text. The Initiative is also working on the development of an accessible Internet portal, library standards and training materials.

LAC has begun enhancing the electronic clearinghouse that enables publishers to make their electronic files available quickly and securely to producers of multiple formats. The development of IELA will take place in consultation with a wide variety of stakeholders who have already contributed to the Initiative, including individuals who have print disabilities, consumer organizations of persons with disabilities, and the library, print publishing and multiple format publishing communities.

Untold stories

A cultural experience, in the heart of the nation’s capital.

Anne of Green Gables

Millions of readers around the world know the exuberant orphan from Anne of Green Gables. Library and Archives Canada celebrated Anne and her creator with a multi-media exhibition in Ottawa to mark the centennial of one of the most popular, successful and enduring Canadian books ever. By bringing together archival materials, books, posters, audiovisual materials, paintings, stamps and works of art, the exhibition provides a glimpse not only into the world of Lucy Maud Montgomery but how Anne’s story has been interpreted and adapted over time.

The core of the exhibition is a display of over 40 different books, including a dozen different editions and many foreign translations. Rarely seen archival documents from LAC’s collection, including the contract the author signed with the L.C. Page Company for the publication of Anne of Green Gables, and four pages from the original manuscript, borrowed from the Confederation Centre of the Arts, are some of the items on display. The exhibition also includes a very rare, first edition book. The book was so popular it went into multiple printings in the first few months.

“There’s such a lot of different Anne’s in me. I sometimes think that is why I’m such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn’t be half so interesting.”

Anne to her friend Diana, Anne of Green Gables

An international partnership

The year 2008 is the 225th anniversary of the Treaty of Paris that ended the American Revolution and reshaped modern North America. In the first collaborative educational initiative between the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration and Library and Archives Canada, a major international exhibition was launched to mark the event. The exhibition, which opened in Ottawa, incorporates many valuable archival treasures from the vaults of both institutions, including the rarely seen American copy of the 1783 Treaty of Paris.

The exhibition Subject or Citizen reveals the untold story of the Treaty, and how the decisions of politicians and diplomats changed forever not only one nation, but two.

Through a combination of texts and images, it explores the beginnings of a longstanding friendship between the United States and Canada, and reveals the everyday lives of First Nations peoples, enslaved African Americans, and Loyalists.

Spirit and Intent: Understanding Aboriginal Treaties

Treaty documents and artifacts are among the most precious Canadian heritage records, and are protected under the Canadian Constitution. Wampum, parchments, manuscripts and maps, totems, seals, signatures and stamps are all evidence of the decisions that have shaped Canada and its people. Launched in September 2007, the Spirit and Intent exhibition provided insight into the voices, values and visions behind Canada’s Aboriginal treaties. The exhibition showcased a wide selection of Treaty documents dating from the 1600s to the 1990s. Visitors also discovered interesting items loaned from other Canadian cultural institutions.

“My great-great-grandfather signed a treaty in Southern Ontario in the 1850s on behalf of my first nation. It is a good feeling to know that five generations later we are still remembering the importance of that agreement to our collective future.”
Dr. John Borrows, co-curator of Spirit and Intent, September 2007

The exhibition was curated by Dr. John Borrows, Professor and Law Foundation Chair of Aboriginal Justice and Governance of the University of Victoria, and Dr. Jim Miller, Professor of History and Canada Research Chair in Native-Newcomer Relations from the University of Saskatchewan.

Literary landscapes

Manuscripts, annotated typescripts, personal diaries and photographs revealed the creative worlds of 33 Francophone authors from across Canada in a unique exhibition launched by LAC in April 2007.

Among the archival documents of the authors, novelists, poets and playwrights are the handwritten notes of Gérald Leblanc, Michel Ouellette and Simone Chaput. The exhibition also presented treasures such as the typescript of the screenplay of the film Les bons débarras by Réjean Ducharme, the typewriter belonging to Roger Lemelin, a roll of Gold Star stamps used in the play Les belles-soeurs by Michel Tremblay, a watercolour sketch by Marie-Claire Blais and annotations by Gabrielle Roy.

Black history resource

In February 2008 LAC launched ARCHIVED - Under a Northern Star, an online resource that presents seven unique collections held at Library and Archives Canada. These seven collections document the diverse historical experiences of African Canadians, and include digitized versions of historical papers that put the life and work of early African Canadians in context, including those who fought against slavery and racism, built settlements, and flourished as early Canadians. This rich site gives visitors access to material on topics such as Ontario’s Elgin settlement, the private collection of noted abolitionist Mary Ann Shadd Cary, and the influential newspapers Voice of the Fugitive and The Provincial Freeman.

Documenting democracy

Without records, memory is subjective. With records, citizens can exercise their democratic rights

“The information revolution has dramatically enhanced public expectations for speedy decisions, for immediate responses from government, for transparency in government operations, and for public engagement in decision making.”
Kevin Lynch, Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Fourteenth Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service of Canada, March 2007

Government records offer the essential evidence of the actions of government.
Library and Archives Canada is responsible for advising and guiding departments and agencies so they can manage these records effectively, including their disposal.
Recordkeeping affects decision making, the development of policy, and the way the government serves Canadians. In a true democracy, it is the government record which allows it to be fully accountable to Canadians.

Good housekeeping

Problems with the disposal of records in the Government of Canada were identified in the Auditor General’s Report in 2003. At the same time, the Librarian and Archivist of Canada signaled the need for a collective response to the broader problem of records in general. In cooperation with the Clerk of the Privy Council and the Secretary of the Treasury Board, he created a series of Deputy Minister (DM) Roundtables on Information Management and Recordkeeping in the fall of 2006.

The DM Roundtables established a task force of Assistant Deputy Ministers whose mandate is to recommend a new recordkeeping regime for the government. This task force, representing 15 government departments and chaired by the Librarian and Archivist of Canada, has already achieved a number of results.

Documentation standards

In 2007, LAC completed a guide for documentation standards linked to the government’s Management, Resources and Results Structure policy and Management Accountability Framework. LAC also launched assessment projects with several departments and agencies, including the development of a documentation standard for strategic policy research at Human Resources and Social Development Canada, as well as documentation standards for all business activities at the Office of the Information Commissioner. With the Department of Justice and other agencies LAC is also developing a Litigation Readiness Protocol for government.

Clearing the path

LAC began the Clearing the Path program to help government departments and agencies identify records which have no business or archival value, and then to dispose of them. In its first five months, the program identified more than five kilometres of non-archival records, which are currently being disposed of. This frees up valuable space for other information assets of historical and archival value, and makes archival records more accessible to all Canadians.

Eventually LAC will use the Clearing the Path program to help and support other government departments, agencies and institutions to dispose of their records or to contact LAC Regional Service Centres.

New storage model

Library and Archives Canada developed a new storage model to provide secure, accessible, and cost-effective storage for Government of Canada records. This is particularly important with the growth of many different kinds of records, including electronic records. The New Storage Model is designed to provide a comprehensive solution for all inactive government paper records. While the Canadian government has chosen the electronic record as the record of choice, it must first manage and dispose of a significant backlog of paper records, estimated at 18 million linear feet.

Benefits of good recordkeeping

  • Information management that meets business needs
  • No mountains of stored records
  • Reduced costs
  • More control
  • Better litigation
  • Compliance with federal legislation
  • Only records of real value are preserved
  • Easier to serve Canadians


Library and Archives Canada is renewing its long-term infrastructure strategy. Current work involves a new Nitrate Preservation Facility and an Interim Collection Facility, which are scheduled to be in operation in 2010. In addition, LAC is working on a strategy for additional preservation space necessary to safeguard Canada’s documentary heritage and to manage vital government records.

The healing power of records

Sometimes records resonate with the power to change lives. For the past 15 years Library and Archives Canada has provided access to records of the Indian residential schools to all parties so that claims could be resolved. We are deeply committed to helping the Truth and Reconciliation Commission achieve its goals: to heal and reconcile the Indian residential schools legacy. We have actively sought out this role, by seeing ourselves as vital and primary partners and stakeholders in working with the Commission. By doing so we will help raise awareness about the residential schools experience, and the records created and collected will form a unique source of information for that legacy.

Canada as a global citizen

Our envoy abroad

LAC’s international role is shaped by two key contributions: the creation of international standards and our increasing visibility throughout the world as a leader in the fields of collaboration, knowledge management and digitization.

A strong international presence for LAC benefits all users of libraries and archives across Canada. For example, our participation in the development of international standards for the exchange of information means that we create a system that makes it easy to share materials with institutions in other countries. Ultimately, this enables clients to access virtually anything from anywhere.

One of the most important contributions we make globally is through our participation in IFLA, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. IFLA is involved in a wide range of information activities, including the creation of global standards, issues related to copyright and intellectual property, “@ your library,” the campaign for the world’s libraries, as well as preservation and conservation. LAC’s participation in IFLA means that Canada is highly visible in the international library community, and that Canada’s position is heard.

IFLA Conference 2008

Canada is the host for the 74th conference of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) in Québec in August 2008. More than 5,000 library and information professionals from 120 countries attend and celebrate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Québec.

With its theme “Libraries without borders: Navigating towards global understanding,” IFLA 2008 draws attention to the mission and future of libraries in a world that is undergoing profound change. The Conference addresses various issues which impact not only global library and information professions, but society as a whole. Various satellite meetings, both before and after the conference, are also being held in other Canadian cities.

By collaborating in the organization of IFLA 2008, Library and Archives Canada demonstrates leadership within the international library community. IFLA also offers an opportunity to underline to Canadians the importance of documentary heritage and its management by LAC, as well as how LAC works in partnership with other government departments and agencies. Library and Archives Canada has been working very closely with Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec and the organizing committee to ensure the success of this conference.

International standards

LAC is actively involved in work related to international standards, including MARC 21 formats, the Dewey Decimal Classification, and PREMIS, a standard for digital preservation. In addition, LAC is working with Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, la Bibliothèque nationale de France, and the Association pour l’avancement des sciences et des techniques de la documentation, to translate the Dewey Decimal Classification tables into French. Up until April 2008, LAC assumed a leadership role for Canada within the International Organization for Standardization, Technical Committee 46 (Information and Documentation). This role is particularly important because the digital environment demands global standardization and interoperability across information sectors such as libraries, archives, publishers and copyright collectives.

Resource description and access

Library and Archives Canada, representing the Canadian Committee on Cataloguing, is working with three other national libraries, the British Library, the Library of Congress, and the National Library of Australia, as well as American and British library associations, to create a new international standard. The standard, known as RDA: Resource Description and Access, will replace the current Anglo-American Cataloguing rules.

RDA will provide a new approach to resource description. The information produced from applying RDA will focus on the needs of users, and help them find and identify the material they need. It will address both current and future needs by providing a flexible framework for describing all types of resources, including new resources emerging from an increasingly complex digital environment.

Other international highlights

In November 2007 LAC co-hosted, with Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, the International Conference of the Round Table on Archives (CITRA) in Québec. LAC also has an active bi-lateral working relationship with the US National Archives and Records Administration, and works closely with the National Archives in the United Kingdom and in Australia. LAC maintains a wide variety of memberships in international professional organizations, and welcomes many visitors each year, including professional groups and foreign dignitaries, who come to Canada to learn from our expertise and visit our facilities. portrait gallery of canada

Portrait gallery of Canada

Our nation. Your gallery.

Library and Archives Canada has been developing the National Portrait Collection based on works collected since the 1880s. Part history museum, part art gallery, part archives, the Portrait Gallery’s active program of acquisitions and travelling exhibitions, educational initiatives and community partnerships brings a unique collection of 20,000 paintings, prints, drawings and sculptures, more than four million photographs, and thousands of caricatures and medals to all Canadians.

Choose our muse: portrait commissioning program

For the first time, the Canadian public is invited to have a say on whose portraits should be commissioned for Library and Archives Canada’s permanent collection. The Portrait Gallery of Canada is inviting all Canadians to get involved by suggesting living persons who have made a significant contribution either to their community or to the country, whose portraits would enhance the collection. This will increase the relevance and diversity of the Portrait Gallery’s contemporary holdings and allow Canada to join portrait galleries across the world who are also reaching out to artists and citizens through innovative approaches to creativity and partnerships.

Unexpected encounters

The Portrait Gallery of Canada and the National Capital Commission surprised many people this year by showing huge framed reproductions from the National Portrait Collection around the historic ByWard Market Square and on the Rideau Canal Skateway in Ottawa, Canada’s capital. The Marquis de Vaudreuil, R.B. Bennett, Guido Molinari and Wayne Gretzky were among the notables whose portraits spent the winter delighting Canadians and tourists as they gazed down from bridges and brick walls at passersby in Ottawa. This summer the project will continue in the courtyards of the ByWard Market and in the streets of Québec.

Inside vault 34

The highly successful vault tours of 2007 created such a demand that Inside Vault 34 has now become an ongoing part of Portrait Gallery programming. Every Sunday from April 6 to May 25, 2008, the Gallery invited the public to take a free guided tour of Library and Archives Canada’s portrait collection. These rare and inspiring portraits of Canadians are housed in the climate-controlled Vault 34, at the LAC Preservation Centre in Gatineau, Quebec. The tour included Yousuf Karsh’s famous black-and-white photograph of Winston Churchill, and a serigraph of hockey great Wayne Gretzky by Andy Warhol.

In Your Face

When the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) launched In Your Face: The People’s Portrait Project, they had no idea it would be such an overwhelming success. Originally developed as an invitation to the people of Ontario to submit a 4 by 6 inch original portrait to the AGO, the project immediately attracted interest across Canada and around the world. Over 17,000 portraits arrived from as far away as Italy, Germany, France, Great Britain, Australia, Japan, and South Korea.

The Portrait Gallery of Canada presented the exhibition at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa, a dynamic and engaging mix of portraits by amateurs and by professionals, by adults and by children. The exhibition was so popular it was extended until September 2008.


Library and Archives Canada

395 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario  K1A 0N4

Telephone: 613-996-5115 or 1-866-578-7777
TTY: 613-992-6969 or 1-866-299-1699

Fax: 613-995-6274

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, 2008
Catalogue No. SB4-6/2008
ISBN 978-0-662-05860-1

All photos are copyright of Library and Archives Canada unless otherwise indicated.