May 28, 2022

Canada: Information Czar Sounds Alarm over British Columbia’s Forgotten Government Archives

From the Canadian Press (via The Province):

There are 33,000 boxes of important provincial documents abandoned in a warehouse, orphaned by a lack of government interest and funding, says British Columbia’s information and privacy czar.

In her report released Tuesday, Elizabeth Denham said the neglect is severely hampering access to information and the public’s right to know about key decisions of their government.

“I was shocked to learn that no government records had been transferred or preserved in the BC Archives for the last 10 years,” Denham said in an interview.

Read the Complete Article

See Also: B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner calls on the B.C. government to fix 10-year archiving impasse and modernize records management (via B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner)

In 2003, when the BC Archives became a part of the Royal BC Museum, a ‘charge back’ system was established for the archiving of government records. Ministries seeking to deposit records of long-term value with the BC Archives were to be charged $454 per box. As a result of this fee, no government records scheduled for transfer have been deposited in the archives in the past decade.

The Commissioner’s report recommends that government provide funding to address this backlog and bring archives back into core government. Government should also provide adequate resources going forward to ensure archiving continues, including an investment in infrastructure to support the archiving of electronic records.
A second major issue is that the BC Archives has no capability to archive digital records. “As more and more records are ‘born digital,’ government needs a strategy to preserve and archive these records. The archiving of electronic records requires a new approach that ensures records can be accessed as technologies evolve. I recommend that government invest in creating a system for storing and archiving electronic records in light of the unique needs of this media,” said Denham.

Direct to Full Text Report Released Today: A Failure to Archive: Recommendations to Modernize Government Information Management (B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner)
23 pages; PDF.

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.