A strategic plan to 2030
On this page
- to preserve the documentary heritage of Canada for the benefit of present and future generations
- to be a source of enduring knowledge accessible to all, contributing to the cultural, social and economic advancement of Canada as a free and democratic society
- to facilitate in Canada co-operation among communities involved in the acquisition, preservation and diffusion of knowledge
- to serve as the continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions
Introduction by the Librarian and Archivist of Canada
History has a rhythm. It’s the rhythm of story. The ebb and flow of time. Humans have been telling each other stories for as long as they have been on the earth. Recent science shows that our neural pathways are set up for stories. It’s how we share information, how we learn and grow.
Whether they are hidden in a census record, bound between the pages of a book, or passed down from generation to generation, stories ground and connect us, and Library and Archives Canada is a place where thousands of stories can be found.
In 2026, we will open a new facility shared with Ottawa Public Library, aptly named Ādisōke, the Anishinabemōwin word for “storytelling.” This idea is not only at the heart of the design of the building itself, but it also guides how the facility will be used by the 1.7 million visitors expected each year.
Little wonder. We are the fourth-largest library in the world. With millions of books, iconic works of art, photographs, maps, letters, war records, government documents, music, films and audio tracks, genealogical sources, and more, LAC’s collections are filled with stories. We are immensely proud of them, and equally proud of the knowledge and expertise of the people whose passion is to organize, preserve and make them accessible.
New life is breathed into history all the time, and our past is constantly being rediscovered, retold and shared, in new combinations and with fresh perspectives. This is one reason we are constantly in motion, adapting to and reflecting back the shifts in our society, the shape of change itself.
The pandemic that began in 2020 reminded us that you cannot take anything for granted. We always need to be thinking ahead, and preparing for the future. Where do we want to go from here, and how do we want to get there? How can we best serve users in the coming decade and beyond?
We have spent 2020 and 2021 consulting, with our staff, our partners and our users, and we created a strategic plan, Vision 2030, that draws on the ideas that came up again and again. We have established clear landmarks and goals.
Vision 2030 provides a framework that will guide us through this decade and beyond, a plan where people and collections are equally important, where discovery is encouraged and enabled, and where users can consult and understand the LAC collections, which provide a glimpse into the stories of our past, present and future.
As we embark on this amazing journey, I hope to meet you on the way. I’ll probably be the one sitting by the light of the campfire. Listening to stories.
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is unique among organizations of its kind in the world. The merger of a national library with a national archives in 2004 created a single access point to the complete collections, both in person and online. These collections took nearly 150 years to assemble, with more than 50 million items, including books (of course!), government records, private archives, works of art, photographs, sound and audiovisual materials, sheet music, and over five billion megabytes of digital documents. And the overall collection grows every day.
LAC continues to deliver on its mandate, as it has for nearly 20 years, acquiring, preserving and providing access to Canada’s documentary heritage. But the impact of digital technology on our lives has meant a far greater demand for reliable and trusted information, transparency, and instant access from anywhere. We are all hyper-connected. There is a greater need than ever before for LAC to choose the way forward carefully. Pressures on the budgets of libraries, archives and other memory institutions have made it even more important to use resources wisely and differently.
The situation was intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic, which created new and more immediate expectations of online service to meet user needs. In turn, this pressure added to budget constraints. As viewing the collections in person became impractical, online access became the primary means of discovering the collection.
To meet the ongoing needs of users, change is inevitable. For LAC, this means gradually transforming services, both virtual and in person, as well as optimizing digital capacity. In the spring of 2020, the organization launched Vision 2030, setting in motion the direction for LAC in the coming decade and beyond. Vision 2030 is a collaborative exercise for mapping out LAC’s future. It was developed through online consultations, focus groups and surveys, with LAC’s users, partners and staff.
Vision 2030 is a reflection of what we heard, distilled from the thousands of thoughts, ideas and suggestions that we received. It defines where we want to go, what we want to achieve, and how we will get there, by establishing ambitious goals and setting out clear priorities.
Our vision: Discover. Understand. Connect.
As history is constantly being renewed, the past is constantly being rediscovered and told from different perspectives. LAC must continue to evolve. We are committed to using our collections to communicate a range of experiences and cultures through the most diverse stories. Access will play a key role in this.
Vision 2030 looks at improving every aspect of the user’s experience, through a balance of online and in-person services. As users look for more online content, LAC will grow along with them, simplifying access. We will establish an ongoing dialogue with users. We will also review our services on a regular basis, to ensure that they continue to meet the needs of our clients.
LAC’s new digital services will give all users seamless access to research help, interactive content and digital collections, no matter where people live, as well as a variety of self-service options. These services will encourage users to discover histories for themselves, forming a deep connection with LAC’s collections, in ways that reflect their unique interests.
“We are a big country. Not everyone can come to a centralized location to research their heritage. Better to digitize what we can so more people can access it.”
By transforming and integrating its online and in-person services, LAC will ensure that users can access these services whenever and wherever they need them. By seeking out and reaching new clients, as well as putting user needs at the centre of what we do, we will reaffirm our place as both a trusted source of knowledge and an organization that inspires and reflects everyone.
Our services will be easier to use, making the collections available to more people, not just researchers, academics, students and genealogists. Users will feel connected to their past and welcomed by the institution. In addition, they will be encouraged to contribute their own stories, by engaging with both collections and programs.
“Storytelling plays a vital role in creating and passing on our shared heritage. Stories bring our history to life and bind our past to our present.”
While the collections remain at the centre of LAC’s identity, the ability of users to discover, understand and connect with the collections frames our vision of service. Vision 2030 will aim to provide access to the collections to anyone and from anywhere, as well as a framework to identify and respond quickly to users’ needs.
Vision 2030: Four key elements
- Inviting users to discover the collections
Make our collections better known and more accessible
- Reflecting diverse voices
Acquire collections that reflect a diverse and inclusive society
- Engaging with the community, partnering with the world
Work with our partners, in the community and around the world
- Supporting our people, sustaining our heritage
Create the conditions that support our staff
1. Inviting users to discover the collections
One of the clearest priorities to emerge from all of the groups that we consulted was the need to put people at the heart of what we do. By making our collections better known and more accessible, we inspire people of all ages to discover and understand Canada’s history. By continuing to put people and partners first, we stay relevant.
“We need to ensure that LAC responds proactively to the needs of all users.”
Where we are
LAC’s website provides access to our services and collections. As part of the Web Renewal Initiative, LAC has been steadily improving its web presence. With some four million visits a year, the site is one of the busiest in the Government of Canada. Although LAC has a considerable social media presence, participants in the consultations asked repeatedly for LAC to be even more visible through these channels.
The quality of the user’s experience is now a key element of success. People are used to working with search engines and social media, and they expect to find information quickly, easily and intuitively, no matter where it is located. People also expect to make serendipitous discoveries, and to be able to interact with the content and its creators.
This has meant a new way of thinking about service. In addition to traditional users like researchers and historians, memory institutions are expanding their outreach to new audiences, such as young people, and to those who have been under-represented in the past.
Where we are going
User-friendly web presence
“Simplify the darn search function!”
LAC’s website should be simpler to use, with search and navigation features that are intuitive and natural, making content easier to find. The search experience will be vastly improved through better integration of the site, a simplified approach to navigating the collections, and consolidating dozens of databases into a centralized search, with the option to search on a specific topic or theme.
One of the key goals of Vision 2030 is to encourage users to use the collections on their own. By providing online research guides aimed at the needs of specific target groups, as well as clear research tools in plain language, we can help users to find what they are looking for. Every finding provides a direct connection to our past, our present and our future.
Access to information
A new delivery system for access to information and privacy requests (ATIP), using secure links, will allow LAC to respond to the high volume of requests more easily while still complying with relevant legislation. The system is expected to be in full operation by 2022–23.
Reaching out to new audiences
“Target the kids!”
In the next 10 years, LAC will reach out to youth by working with educational institutions and stakeholders. LAC will encourage young users to connect with their history and culture.
In addition, we will reach out to other, diversified audiences. Workshops, tours and classes will help to guide users through the collections, and a national public programming strategy will target both in-person and virtual visitors.
Putting collections in context
LAC will do more to place collections in context, making them easier to understand by setting them in a wider historical and cultural landscape. We will do this in various ways: by offering theme-based collections and programs, and by encouraging a variety of uses for the collections.
National awareness programs
The new Ādisōke facility is expected to have more than 1.7 million visitors a year once it opens, which will dramatically enhance LAC’s visibility by 2030. National awareness programs will be aimed at reaching new audiences, encouraging them to discover and understand the Canadian experience. Through new partnerships formed with the provinces and territories, public libraries, and community and Indigenous groups, LAC will ensure that as many people as possible discover Canada’s heritage and culture.
2. Reflecting diverse voices
The consultations made it clear: LAC’s collections have to reflect our diverse and inclusive society. By acquiring, describing and preserving collections that mirror Canadian experience, cultures, community and society, we foster a greater understanding of where we have come from and where we are going.
“If you’re going to be a national institution, you need to ensure that all users are reflected ...”
Where we are
Over the years, LAC has formed partnerships with library and archival communities across Canada, but more recently the focus has been on finding ways to connect and engage with all sectors in our society, especially those communities who have been under-represented and marginalized in the past. The creation of the Indigenous Advisory Circle and the Youth Advisory Council have established useful channels for finding and responding to the needs of these important groups. For example, in response to suggestions from the Youth Advisory Council, LAC has increased the visibility of its collections on popular sites for young people, such as Instagram and YouTube. As well, significant progress has been made on 27 of the 28 commitments in the Indigenous Heritage Action Plan.
LAC worked with Indigenous communities on two key projects; We Are Here: Sharing Stories has already digitized and described nearly 600,000 Indigenous images, maps and documents in LAC’s holdings, while Listen, Hear Our Voices supports the digitization of records held in First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation communities. Through a one-of-a-kind program called Project Naming, LAC works with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation communities to identify thousands of people in photographs from its collections, the majority of whom were nameless in the archival descriptions.
Memory institutions have always played a key role in understanding and addressing major challenges in society. With the rapid spread of information that characterizes our fast-paced digital world, this role is more important than ever. Accurate historical information can shine a light on many issues, such as how we adapt to technological change, and the importance of freedom of expression, human rights, diversity and inclusion. The role of archives in preserving the evidence of this complex society has been thrust into the forefront, and a general appetite for more online content is also clear.
Where we are going
A strategy for inclusion
A new acquisition strategy under Vision 2030, including revised acquisition models, will support a true portrait of Canada. The strategy will include many who have been left out in the past, such as racialized groups, linguistic minorities, members of the 2SLGBTQQIA+ communities, refugees and immigrants, and people with disabilities. By working directly with those who have been historically excluded, LAC will expand its collections so that more people can find themselves, their voices and their stories in the collections. The strategy will be launched in 2022–23.
“Users want to see more from under-represented voices in LAC’s collections, more BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of colour), queer and female created/driven content.”
Items from the past often come with outdated descriptions and inaccurate information. LAC will continue the ongoing work of describing the collections in its care in ways that are culturally sensitive and historically accurate, ensuring that cultural protocols are respected. This is especially important for collections that tell the stories of Canada’s Indigenous communities. Working together with these communities, LAC ensures that the record speaks for itself, free from the vocabulary of the colonial past.
LAC will work actively with First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation within their communities as well, providing the tools and training that they need to preserve and access their collections, in their own way. This work has already begun, and will include targeted research services, increased digitization of Indigenous records, and access to cultural materials available in Indigenous languages.
“As an Indigenous community, our language is an integral part of our heritage. Any initiatives that would aid in digitizing, translating and transcribing resources in our Indigenous languages are key, while we still have fluent speakers to do this work.”
More online content
The need for more online content was a constant theme throughout the consultations, and LAC will continue to actively acquire, manage, preserve and make it available. The Digital Asset Management System (DAMS) is designed to enable LAC to manage and preserve all of its digital collections, and to make them available, by providing cloud-based preservation and access to collection materials.
LAC will make decisions about the choice of content to be digitized by working actively with users, and we will speed up access to digital content by using new technologies. For example, we will consider using linked data, Open Source Software and cloud service offerings, such as Software as a Service (SAAS), to address future software needs.
Easy access to government records
By acquiring the archival records of the Government of Canada in all media, and ensuring easy access, LAC contributes directly to a working democracy. As part of LAC’s broad strategy, LAC will mount a large-scale effort between 2023 and 2027 to transfer the vast majority of digital records of archival value from the Canadian government to its collections. LAC will also work to give access to these records to users as quickly as possible, by reducing security and privacy restrictions.
A commitment to preservation
Starting in 2022, we will upgrade our Preservation Centre to improve our storage capacity for digital content. At the same time, part of LAC’s analog collections will be moved to the Preservation Storage Facility, the first federal facility built to meet the requirements of Canada’s Greening Government Strategy and the net-zero carbon standard. In another key leadership role, LAC will develop a Centre of Expertise for Digital Preservation, to share best practices with other memory institutions both inside and outside Canada.
3. Engaging with the community, partnering with the world
Working with our partners, both in Canada and around the world, LAC develops and shares best practices and knowledge, with a focus on learning and development. Working closely with user communities and cultural organizations helps us to shape better services and contributes to a broader understanding of LAC.
“Users need to know and be proud of their individual and collective heritage.”
Where we are
LAC has a long history of collaboration and partnerships with libraries and archives in Canada and abroad, as well as heritage organizations and historical societies, Indigenous organizations, and research institutions, including universities. Forums with LAC’s university partners have contributed significantly to the ongoing dialogue.
More recently, LAC expanded its network of GLAMs (galleries, libraries, archives and museums) in Canada to include similar institutions around the world.
Collaborative partnerships have also led to the creation of numerous public programs, such as the LAC Scholar Awards (in collaboration with the LAC Foundation and Air Canada) and the popular TD Summer Reading Club (in collaboration with TD Bank and Toronto Public Library). Partnerships with museums have provided dedicated spaces that showcased LAC treasures at popular attractions, such as the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Museum of History.
By partnering with Vancouver Public Library, LAC was able to move its offices on the West Coast to downtown Vancouver, bringing the collections closer to users. LAC’s offices in Halifax were also relocated, to the popular Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21.
In an effort to streamline the management of ever-growing collections and to raise awareness of their unique materials, memory institutions, universities and local heritage organizations have formed partnerships that contribute to shared goals.
LAC is expanding its collaborative leadership role in an environment of rapidly evolving client needs and technologies. This includes exploring large-scale collaboration projects, in areas such as digitization and standard setting, as well as new models of collaboration that increase access to Canadian heritage, such as Vancouver Public Library and Ādisōke.
Bringing value to partners is a key goal, and with this in mind, LAC has begun a broad conversation with user groups such as youth, and First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation communities. Promising approaches include the use of co-design principles, and creating new ways to learn about the needs of diverse existing and potential audiences.
Where we are going
More community engagement
The consultations highlighted the fact that users wanted LAC to reach more people through collaboration and community partnerships, and by working directly with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation communities. By developing a framework for community engagement, LAC will work to reach a range of communities so their stories are heard.
National and international partnerships
Developing our expertise and sharing it with the world will likely still be a focus into 2030 and beyond, as LAC works in partnership with national and international communities. This includes universities, research institutions and small documentary heritage organizations in Canada, as well as national archives and national libraries in other countries.
Continued collaboration with universities and other post-secondary and research institutions will ensure strong links with programs that train future generations of professionals, as well as keeping LAC’s professionals up to date with the latest developments in their fields. In addition, LAC will benefit from work being conducted in other domains, such as the digital humanities and ethical artificial intelligence.
LAC will promote the importance of its mandate by working more closely with various central government agencies, such as Department of Justice Canada, Shared Services Canada, Department of Finance Canada, and Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. It will also explore new ways of partnering with government departments, including Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Parks Canada, and Canadian Digital Service.
Working with the GLAM sector
By seeking out new partnerships with GLAMs (galleries, libraries, archives and museums), both here and abroad, LAC will find new users and contribute to the conversation on emerging issues. Planned GLAM think tanks organized by LAC will provide a starting point for important discussions about the future of GLAMs in a post-COVID world.
4. Supporting our people, sustaining our heritage
The knowledge and experience of our staff are vital to understanding both our collections and our audience, and in finding ways to connect them. Seeking a new way of working, we will always strive to build an environment that supports our staff, so they can do what they do best: engaging with our users and bringing the collections to life, both online and in person. This support includes strong governance, and a core belief in accountability and transparency.
“We must remember the past in order to be able to go forward in the future.”
Where we are
During the consultations, our staff told us how important it was to work in an environment that makes it easy to work as teams, sharing knowledge and ideas. LAC has already taken concrete steps so that this kind of workplace culture becomes the norm. The new, simplified and more balanced structure of LAC puts users at the centre of the organization, and allows us to be more efficient in bringing our teams together. By designing this structure to support internal collaboration, we are helping LAC to meet the goals of Vision 2030.
A number of tools are already in place to promote the recruitment and retention of a workforce that is both skilled and inclusive, but more is still needed to both attract and hire people from diverse backgrounds.
In a rapidly changing world, those who work in memory institutions, just like everyone else, need to maintain existing expertise as well as to learn new skills. This includes skills such as change management, digital literacy and data management. Memory organizations have realized that hiring practices have to change, in order to attract and retain a diverse and inclusive workforce in all areas of operations, including finance, human resources, real property and communications.
Where we are going
A culture of collaboration
LAC will continue to foster a workplace culture that respects employees, encouraging and supporting teamwork by creating open channels for sharing information. Using communities of practice and multidisciplinary teams, LAC will provide new opportunities for growth and innovation, as well as an environment where knowledge is easily shared.
LAC will continue to explore new ways of working and delivering services to users. A hybrid work model (full-time on-site work, a combination of telework and on-site work, or full-time telework) will meet operational needs while maximizing the use of our worksites.
Inclusive hiring practices
LAC will develop new strategies to attract and hire people from all backgrounds, creating a more diverse workforce and an inclusive workplace. By adjusting the Integrated People Management Strategy every three years, we will acquire and develop the skills and the knowledge that we need to move confidently and inclusively into the future. Another key element is the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation Recruitment and Retention Strategy.
Good governance and accountability will help to support Vision 2030. This will include clarifying the roles and responsibilities among the sectors, putting better decision-making processes in place, ensuring that committees are more representative, and avoiding the silos that create barriers to growth and change.
The need to promote sustainable development was a persistent theme throughout the consultations, lending support to LAC’s key priorities in this area: sound stewardship of assets and long-term sustainability. LAC will continue to reduce its environmental footprint by setting and meeting the targets outlined in the LAC Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy, and by making improvements to its infrastructure. This will include greening the buildings that house valuable Canadian heritage materials, lowering energy consumption, and reducing the overall carbon footprint.
Specific targets for LAC include the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030, with an eventual goal of being carbon neutral, the use of 100 percent clean electricity by 2025, and 80 percent zero-emission vehicles in the fleet by 2030. LAC will also develop a green plan to address climate change. The LAC Preservation Storage Facility in Gatineau will be the first Government of Canada facility built to meet the requirements of Canada’s Greening Government Strategy, and its first net-zero carbon building. LAC’s new joint facility with Ottawa Public Library, Ādisōke, will be a net-zero carbon as well as a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certified building.
Ādisōke: the public face of LAC
The new joint facility known as Ādisōke, set to open in 2026, represents a unique collaborative partnership between LAC, Ottawa Public Library (OPL) and the City of Ottawa. Its design is the result of contributions from members of the public, Elders and Indigenous community members, staff and partners, who came together to offer their ideas and suggestions. With its flowing architecture, stunning views and light-filled areas where people can gather, create, discuss, research and be inspired, Ādisōke will be a true community space, one that supports a new way of looking at LAC and its services.
One of the features of Ādisōke will be a high-end genealogical research centre, where LAC and OPL staff will support those seeking to learn more about their family history.
A flagship collection of some 20,000+ titles that highlight Canada’s published heritage in all its diversity will be preserved and made accessible on the shelves of LAC’s magnificent reading room. We also look forward to welcoming visitors to our joint museum-quality exhibition gallery, which will showcase the heritage and culture of Canada and its capital.
The direction of Ādisōke will be supported by a number of key priorities, worked out collaboratively with LAC’s partners and users. These strategies will focus on service transformation and service delivery in dynamic and welcoming locations, but also online. A pilot project for new services and workshops will begin in 2023–24.
Reporting on progress
The Vision 2030 strategic plan was developed in collaboration with LAC staff, users and partners. It is meant to be a “living” document. Each year, LAC will assess whether Vision 2030’s key goals still reflect the changing environment and the needs of users. Progress toward these goals will be reported on annually.
Vision 2030 was born of a collaborative effort, with key goals that came up numerous times throughout the consultations. For example, users want LAC to have a website that is easier to navigate, one that makes its collections simpler to find. They imagine a more service-based organization, engaged with and reaching users across the country, both in person and digitally. The collections that they envisage truly reflect the diversity of people’s experiences.
Participants want access to more materials, especially online. Many of their comments focus on the need for LAC to get more involved with young people and their teachers. And they want to make sure that everyone is fully aware of LAC, its programs, services and resources.
From one end of the country to the other, users see LAC as a leader in the digital environment, both nationally and internationally. They see opportunities for more partnerships, with universities, local communities and the GLAM sector, among others. There is a common recognition that LAC’s relevance, in a world where trusted and reliable information is at a premium, cannot be overestimated.
The need to reach out to groups who may have been left out in the past is another consistent theme, as well as the importance of a diverse and inclusive workforce at LAC. And finally, participants in the consultations wax eloquently about the importance of stories, and how different channels for telling those stories is a key way for LAC to appeal to both its traditional and non-traditional audiences.
Vision 2030 is a flexible plan based on a collective vision, and so it will always be changing, adjusting and reflecting new realities. As we embark on the journey to 2030 together, we encourage everyone to continue shaping the future of LAC.
LAC’s vast collections, assembled since the creation of the Dominion Archives of Canada in 1872, represent the shared documentary heritage of the entire population. Our analog and digital collections continue to grow. Among other things, we estimate that the quantity of our digital data will increase by 1,000 percent between 2022 and 2030. Here are some highlights as of 2022:
- some 20 million books published in various languages, from rare artists' books and first editions to literary classics and popular fiction
- 250 linear kilometres of government and private textual records
- more than three million architectural drawings, plans and maps, some dating back to the early 16th century
- about five billion megabytes of information in electronic format, including thousands of Canadian theses, periodicals and books available online
- nearly 30 million photographic images, including prints, negatives, slides and digital photos
- more than 90,000 films, including short and full-length films, documentaries and silent films, dating as far back as 1897
- more than 550,000 hours of audio and video recordings
- over 425,000 works of art, including watercolours, oil paintings, sketches, caricatures and miniatures, some dating back to the 1600s, as well as medals, seals, posters and coats of arms
- approximately 550,000 items constituting the largest collection of Canadian sheet music in the world
- documentation related to music in Canada, and recordings on disks and records of all formats, including piano rolls, reels and spools, and eight-track tapes
- the Canadian Postal Archives
- textual archives for various individuals and groups who have contributed to Canada's cultural, social, economic and political development
- national newspapers from across Canada, from dailies to student newspapers, and from Indigenous magazines to ethnic community newsletters