May 29, 2022

Preservation: New Library and Archives Canada Report Looks at Condition of Analogue Holdings

Library and Archives Canada says that the report, “aims to share the state of LAC’s documentary heritage in an effort to ensure that it is preserved for generations.”

From the Executive Summary:

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.


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.

The report is available here (23 pages; PDF) and is also embedded below.

Library and Archives Canada: State of the Holdings-June 2012

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.