Audit at a Glance—Chapter 7—Documentary Heritage of the Government of Canada—Library and Archives Canada
Audit at a Glance
Chapter 7—Documentary Heritage of the Government of Canada—Library and Archives Canada
What we examined (see Focus of the audit)
The overall objective of the audit was to determine whether Library and Archives Canada has fulfilled its responsibilities for acquiring and preserving government documentary heritage from federal institutions, and for facilitating access to these records for current and future generations.
What we found
Acquisition, preservation, and access
Overall, we found that Library and Archives Canada was not acquiring all the archival records it should from federal institutions. It does not have up-to-date disposition authorities—that specify which records should be transferred and by what date—for all federal institutions. Of those records it had acquired, Library and Archives Canada had a backlog of some 98,000 boxes of government archival records as of April 2014, and does not know when it will be able to complete the processing of these records and facilitate public access to them. This is important because Canadians do not have knowledge of the government’s archival records that have not yet been transferred from the institutions to Library and Archives Canada, nor of records still in Library and Archives Canada’s backlog.
Library and Archives Canada is not acquiring all the archival records it should from federal institutions (see paragraphs 7.12-7.17)
Recommendation. Library and Archives Canada should ensure that disposition authorities of the federal government’s archival records are kept up to date. To accomplish this, it should develop a plan with achievable timelines for issuing and updating the necessary disposition authorities. It should also continue to engage with institutions and to monitor the adequacy of existing disposition authorities.
Library and Archives Canada has a backlog of 98,000 boxes of archival records (see paragraphs 7.18-7.24)
Recommendation. Library and Archives Canada should develop and implement a plan that establishes the approach, resources, budget with cost and efficiency gains estimates, and timelines to eliminate the backlog of government documentary heritage. Results on progress should be measured and reported to management on a regular basis.
Overall, we found that Library and Archives Canada did not have a corporate digital strategy for the preservation of digital data. In addition, despite having spent $15.4 million on developing and implementing a trusted digital repository from 2006 to 2011, the institution still did not have an integrated system to manage the electronic transfer, preservation, and storage of digital information, and provide digital access to its collection by Canadians.
Library and Archives Canada does not have a corporate digital strategy (see paragraphs 7.29-7.34)
Recommendation. Library and Archives Canada should
- develop a corporate digital strategy to allow the transition to an integrated digital environment that ensures the sustainability of its digital collection; and
- continue to engage with institutions to prepare them on how to transfer digital records in an appropriate format, so that it can determine the capacity required to accommodate future digital transfers.
Library and Archives Canada did not use its trusted digital repository (see paragraphs 7.35-7.39)
Recommendation. To support the fulfillment of its mandate, Library and Archives Canada should implement a program that ensures the acquisition and sustainability of digital records, and the provision of access of its collection by Canadians.
Library and Archives Canada agrees with our recommendations, and has responded (see List of Recommendations).
Why we did this audit
Library and Archives Canada serves as the permanent repository of Canada’s documentary heritage, which consists of the federal government’s publications and records of enduring national interest. Library and Archives Canada is responsible for acquiring and preserving records of archival value and for making them available to the public. Its collection includes audiovisual records, photographs, artworks, and electronic documents. The Library and Archives of Canada Act describes Library and Archives Canada as “the continuing memory of the government of Canada and its institutions.”
Details of the audit
|Report of the||Auditor General of Canada|
|Type of product||Performance audit|
|Audited entities||Library and Archives Canada|
|Completion date||30 April 2014|
|Tabling date||25 November 2014|
|Related audits||Chapter 6—Creating a Historical Record of Indian Residential Schools, Spring 2013 Report of the Auditor General of Canada|
For more information
Manager, Media Relations
Tel.: 613 952 0213, extension 6292
The Auditor General’s Comments
Library and Archives Canada is not doing enough to preserve and provide access to government records of historical value