New Report – State of the Holdings: The Condition of Analogue Holdings at Library and Archives Canada
Posted by CLA Govt Library and Info Mgmt Professionals Network on 2012/07/18
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has released a report that provides an overview of LAC’s analogue holdings, an outline of the risks to these holdings, and an account of LAC’s efforts to respond appropriately to identified risks. Also includes are a series of appendices offer a more detailed view of aspects of LAC’s holdings management program.
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) holds in trust for Canadians our documentary heritage. Developed over a period of 130 years, these extensive holdings consist of approximately 20 million books, periodicals, newspapers, microforms, literary texts and government publications. It also includes 241,418 linear metres of government and private textual records, as well as 3 million architectural drawings, maps and plans. LAC also preserves 28 million photographs, 400,000 audio recordings, 150,000 video recordings, 90,000 motion picture film titles, 425,000 pieces of art, including paintings, drawings, watercolours, posters, prints, medals, caricatures, and 547,000 musical heritage items. In short, this documentary heritage is the record of Canada, preserved by LAC for use by Canadians.
But this record is at constant risk. Paper degrades. Ink can erode the paper on which it is traced. Red rot can afflict the leather used in the past to bind books. Audio-visual records deteriorate and playback machinery disappears. Colour photographs fade away. Nitrate-based holdings can self-combust. Digital holdings created in obsolete formats on yesterday’s hardware and stored on out-of-date physical carriers become rapidly jeopardized.
Holdings management is the function that aims to slow or arrest this relentless degradation and loss of Canadians’ collective memory. Vigilant review of the state of holdings is the cornerstone of holdings management. It allows effective priority-setting of the measures necessary to maintain the collections usability now and in the future; and it ensures these actions are cost-effective.
In short, in managing the on-going usability of its holdings, LAC aims to ensure value for money.
Holdings management takes various shapes. Appropriate accommodation is the basic measure: ensuring that holdings are preserved in appropriate facilities with the correct temperature and humidity. Other steps are also necessary. Holdings need to be tracked to ensure they can be managed and retrieved. They need to be kept in appropriate containers for secure storage and transport. Some holdings, such as audio-visual materials, require systematic migration to new digital file formats. Still other records, including maps, photographs, paintings and watercolours, as well as rare books and other publications, need specialized laboratory treatment to maintain their continuing usability.
Effective collection management rests on various tools and practices. Three ways we are managing risk include gathering institutional knowledge, preparing collections for relocation to more appropriate facilities, and conducting collection surveys or censuses.
Most importantly, sound collection management requires actions: positive steps that effectively assist in ensuring Canadians continue to benefit from their documentary heritage.
This report aims to share with Canadians the state of their documentary heritage and LAC’s efforts to ensure that it is preserved for generations to come. LAC intends to produce an update of this report every six months to ensure current and clear information is provided on the state of the documentary heritage LAC holds for Canadians.
Table of Contents
Introduction and Overview
- Scope of LAC’s Analogue Holdings
- Factors Influencing the State of Holdings
- Analysis of Physical Condition
- Risk Category 1: Physical Nature of Holdings
- Risk Category 2: External Factors
- Institutional Knowledge
- Collection Moves
- Surveys and Censuses
- LAC Survey of Textual Records (Government and Private), 2008–2011
- Survey of the Photographic Nitrate Film Collection, 2010
- Artists’ Books Materials Composition Census, 2010–2011
- Census of Microfilm Masters in the Preservation Centre, 2011
Appendix A: Accommodations Decision Tree
Appendix B: LAC Collections Facilities Utilization
Appendix C: Holdings and Facilities Overview
Appendix D: Issues in the Preservation of Analogue Holdings
Appendix E: Collection Surveys and Censuses
Appendix F: Confidence Dashboard – Knowledge of the Holdings