Sunday, 14 April 2019

Library and Archives Canada Departmental Plan 2019-2020

The 2019-2020 Departmental Plans, including that for Library and Archives Canada, were tabled in the House of Commons on Thursday 11 April 2019.

LAC's 2019-2020 Main Estimates expenditure is $94 million. That compares to $60 million for 2018-2019. Spending increases because of almost 35 million dollars dedicated to substantial completion of construction of a new facility for the preservation of analogue documents in Gatineau, Quebec.

Focusing on the part of LAC's activity of most interest to genealogists "Providing access to documentary heritage", Main Estimates expenditure for 2019-2020 is $31 million, unchanged from the previous year and maintained in the following year forecast after which it increases by $9 million to support the LAC - Ottawa Public Library new joint facility at 555 Albert. The 2019-2020 human resources of 287 FTEs, up from 243 FTEs in 2018-2019 is planned to decrease in subsequent years because of the discontinuation of funding for the Indigenous languages and culture preservation initiative announced in Budget 2017.

What do we get for the money? For 2019–2020, while many ongoing initiatives will continue such as loans to organizations outside the NCR:

- LAC will begin developing a virtual reading room and will digitize the finding aids and reference tools held at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa.

- LAC will continue to develop new tools to enhance access to its collection. It will improve the online search experience by indexing additional databases.

- Co-Lab builds in new functionalities and proposing new (transcription and description) challenges to its users (and) restores full value to digitized documents by making them more searchable and accessible; for example, for clients who use a voice synthesizer or screen reader.

- We Are Here: Sharing Stories will see the digitization of hundreds of thousands of documents, photographs, maps and other material of importance to Indigenous communities as well as the creation of online content.

Listen, Hear Our Voices will continue to provide Indigenous communities with the support required to preserve their oral recordings. To this end, LAC will provide services to communities, such as digitization, deposit preservation, and the development of a catalogue of existing expressions.

- LAC will test a new way to increase the visibility and accessibility of its collection. It will conduct two pilot projects to develop an augmented reality application, i.e., a virtual interface that can enrich reality by superimposing complementary information on it. One relates to the Dominion Textile collection and related LAC material, and the other to the Proclamation of the Constitution Act.

Comment:  As in the bottom right of the word cloud, continue is a theme this year. Indexing additional databases is mentioned without any detail. Major or minor? I was surprised to find digitization of Vernon directories from the LAC collection being undertaken by FamilySearch is not mentioned. In fact no mention of OCR initiatives at all. One file I processed through DigiLab into a pdf was then OCRd, nothing like a perfect transcription of course. No indication of whether this will become available in a searchable format when LAC makes it available online. If not why not? And why not for other files?

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