Preservation Policy Framework

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1. Effective date

The Preservation Policy Framework has been approved by the Management Team and takes effect on February 22, 2022.

2. Application

The Preservation Policy Framework applies to all activities across Library and Archives Canada (LAC) undertaken to preserve its collections, and to fulfill LAC’s obligations when publications and records are placed under its control or custody, whether temporarily or indefinitely.

This policy framework does not apply to LAC activities in support of the preservation of Canadian documentary heritage conducted by others, such as LAC support to recordkeeping by federal government institutions, or LAC support to the development of preservation capacities in the library and archival communities.

The Preservation Policy Framework, and its related policy suite, are informed by, and must be applied in a manner consistent with, other LAC policy instruments. The LAC Access Policy Framework governs activities intended to facilitate access to LAC collections. The LAC Evaluation and Acquisition Policy Framework governs activities undertaken to evaluate and acquire documentary heritage, or to remove it from the collections.

This policy framework supersedes the former Stewardship Policy Framework (2013), and the Policy on Holdings Management (2016).

3. Definitions

See the definitions in the Library and Archives of Canada Act (LAC Act) and the Appendix A.

4. Context

As set out in the LAC Act ​​preamble, LAC’s primary objectives include preservation of documentary heritage of Canada for the benefit of present and future generations, and serving as the continuing memory of the government of Canada and its institutions. LAC is mandated in section 7(a) to preserve the documentary heritage of Canada, and in section 7(c) to act as the permanent repository of publications of the Government of Canada and of government and ministerial records that are of historical or archival value.

LAC’s vast documentary heritage collections are comprised of publications and records in a wide range of media and formats, both analogue and digital, originating from private and public sources. LAC is responsible for 1) maintaining the authenticity, integrity, and longevity of its collections through preservation activities, for 2) ensuring that all publications and records placed under its custody are managed and protected, and for 3) maintaining and securing adequate supply of suitable special purpose storage.

LAC must strive for responsible and responsive acquisition, access, and preservation decisions that account for the anticipated long-term preservation requirements of the collections and the management of its associated metadata. LAC needs to take into account the risks to long-term preservation in the evaluation of documentary heritage, and in acquisition or removal decisions. LAC needs to reach a responsible balance between the preservation of its collections and enabling their access and use. LAC must also explore innovative and collaborative approaches to digital preservation in response to its rapidly evolving networked and digital environment.

LAC meets its mandate within existing legislation, regulations, and policies, as outlined in Appendix B.

5. Purpose

The purpose of this policy framework is to articulate LAC’s principles for achieving its legislated preservation mandate.

LAC’s accountability for its preservation mandate relies on a policy interpretation of the concepts of custody, and control, that are referred to in the LAC Act. As these concepts are undefined in the LAC Act itself, the Preservation Policy Framework defines both concepts to establish the scope of LAC’s responsibilities more precisely.

This policy framework sets LAC’s broad direction for the preservation policy suite; ensures that principles underlying preservation activities are clear and shared across the institution, as well as that LAC preservation role and responsibilities are understood, and linked to the LAC mandate.

6. Principles

6.1 Trustworthiness

The trustworthiness principle means that LAC takes appropriate actions:

  • to manage and protect documentary heritage that is transferred to its custody, whether temporarily or indefinitely, and to document processes and activities;
  • to preserve the authenticity, integrity, and ensure the continuity of its collections;
  • to maintain a contextual relationship within fonds and collections;
  • to ensure the preservation of all necessary metadata required for the management, protection, and long-term preservation of publications and records, and to make this metadata available as required;
  • to contribute to and follow national and international standards and best practices for preservation, as appropriate;
  • to adhere to professional codes of ethics and guidance for practice for preservation, as appropriate;
  • to take into account traditional protocols related to preservation of Indigenous material in collections, and for safeguarding Indigenous records on behalf of Indigenous communities;
  • to be a reliable and secure repository for documentary heritage, and to ensure suitable infrastructures, facilities and special purpose storage that are suitable for long-term preservation;
  • to ensure that preservation is maintained for LAC collections items placed in the custody of others.

6.2 Sustainability

The sustainability principle means that LAC:

  • considers both long-term and short-term preservation requirements and risks when making decisions;
  • follows good planning and risk management practices to ensure reliable, safe, and secure long-term access to collections;
  • develops, maintains, and transfers internal knowledge and expertise within LAC;
  • applies preservation actions in a progressive sequence, from global to individual.

6.3 Collaboration

The collaboration principle means that LAC ensures a permanent presence within national and international communities of interest to LAC (e.g. memory institutions, government institutions, not-for-profit organizations, or private sector); and establishes and maintains successful relationships with them with respect to preservation practices.

    7. Roles and responsibilities

    Librarian and Archivist of Canada is accountable for the preservation of the LAC collections, and for providing leadership for the integration, and alignment of LAC policy frameworks.

    All Assistant Deputy Ministers and Senior Director General work closely with other sector heads to ensure the successful implementation of this framework, and are responsible for ensuring that policies are developed, and activities undertaken, in their respective sectors are aligned with LAC’s Preservation Policy Framework.

    Assistant Deputy Minister, Collections is accountable for the implementation of this framework, and for the management of preservation activities for the LAC’s analog collections.

    Senior Director General, Digital Services is accountable for the implementation of this framework, and for the management of the preservation activities for the LAC’s digital collections.

    Director General, Real Property is accountable for the implementation of this framework, and for the management of real property assets required for the preservation activities.

    Director General, Preservation and Director, Digital Preservation and Migration work closely with other sectors to facilitate the successful implementation of this framework, and are responsible for approving the preservation operational policy instruments and tools.

    Directors General, Directors, and Managers raise awareness about the framework, and ensure that operational policy instruments comply with it, and are aligned with associated policy instruments.

    Staff influence, develop and implement preservation activities and processes aligned with this framework and related instruments.

    8. Monitoring, evaluation and review

    The Strategic Research and Policy Division will monitor and review this framework, with the operational areas responsible for preservation, within five years of its approval, or as required.

    9. Consequences

    Consequences for non-compliance with the Preservation Policy Framework may include corrective measures from the Librarian and Archivist of Canada.

    10. Information

    Please address any questions about this Policy Framework to:

    Strategic Research and Policy Division
    Library and Archives Canada
    550 Boulevard de la Cité
    Gatineau, Quebec J8T 0A7

    Appendix A: Definitions

    The definitions reflect LAC policy perspective to achieve its preservation mandate. They apply to this policy framework and its related policy suite. They may differ or complement definitions external to LAC or external to this policy context.

    Acquisition [Acquisition]
    Acquisition is the process of adding publications and records to LAC’s documentary heritage collections. Acquisition occurs when LAC formally gains control over publications and records for their long-term preservation, and subsequently assumes the responsibility for the management of its metadata and for its use by future generations. For clarity, documentary heritage acquired by LAC is Crown property.

    Authenticity [Authenticité]
    Authenticity is the quality of being genuine, not a counterfeit, and free from tampering over the continuum of records creation, maintenance and preservation. It refers to a publication or record’s reliability over time, and is typically inferred from internal and external evidence.

    Collections [Collections]
    All documentary heritage acquired through the Library and Archives of Canada Act and Legal Deposit of Publications Regulations, and any master copies generated thereof. For clarity, LAC collections only include publications and records acquired by LAC, and are Crown property.

    Collections Metadata [Métadonnées des collections]
    Any data associated with the management of LAC’s collections. This includes metadata associated with the acquisition, descriptions and cataloguing information of collections, as well as technical metadata related to collections preservation, storage, and access. In certain specific instances, it can include operational metadata that are directly linked to collections. Metadata may be acquired with documentary heritage and after acquisition, and may be created by LAC or by others.

    Control [Contrôle]
    The authority to make decisions about publications and records, and their management for the purpose of preservation, access and disposition, whether exercised or not, and regardless of who has custody. LAC control over publications and records may be partial or complete, and may be subject to agreements.

    Custody [Garde]
    The possession of publications and records, regardless of who has control over it. Custody may be shared and may be subject to agreements.

    Documentary Heritage [Patrimoine documentaire]
    Documentary heritage consists of publications, records, and other types of items of historical or archival value and of interest to Canada, identified for long-term preservation in LAC’s collections or in other library, archives or institutions.

    Integrity [Intégrité]
    Integrity is the quality of being whole and unaltered through loss, tampering, or corruption. It refers to a publication or record’s reliability and stability over time, and is typically inferred from internal and external evidence.

    Preservation [Préservation]
    Preservation is all actions taken to slow deterioration of or prevent damage to the collections, and to ensure that its access, use and meaning, and its capacity to be accepted as evidence of what it purports to publish and record, are maintained over time.

    Sustainability [Durabilité]
    Sustainability is the quality of meeting the needs of the collections and its current users without outstripping LAC’s resource capacity or compromising the needs of future users.

    Appendix B: Related Documents

    Federal Acts and Regulations:

    Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat:

    Library and Archives Canada: