SAA Session 410: “The New Approach to Government Records in the Canadian Federal Government”

This session featured representatives from the Library and Archives Canada (LAC).  Nathalie Villeneuve explained they are using a risk-based approach to remove access barriers to records that are already in archival custody, and they are also asking departments to open records before sending them to LAC.  They are rolling out an EDRMS called OpenDocs, and by fall it should incorporate a transfer to archives element.  LAC no longer houses semi-active records – only inactive archival records transfer.

Michael Dufresne clarified that LAC isn’t responsible for government publications, ministerial records, or web/social media content – they collect only government records of historical or archival value.  They have applied macroappraisal:

  • helped distinguish more from less important institutions
  • employ multi-institutional disposition authorities (MIDA) and some institution-specific DAs (ISDA)
  • tried a social network analysis to guide appraisal, but it was too unwieldy

Dufresne asserted, “the focus of appraisal should be on narrowing the field of vision to identify and acquire the most succinct archival or historical evidence possible.”  Their emphasis is on identifying archival records, and the new DAs identify, at a high level, activities likely to generate records of archival value.  Then they employ a validation exercise to determine the list of archival records for activities of interest; records generated for all other activities may be disposed of immediately.  LAC suggests retention periods, which the agencies do generally follow.

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