Faye Lemay

Faye Lemay

Last updated on 4 December 2018

This is part 3 of a 4-part series on Digital Preservation at Library and Archives Canada. Part 1 addressed “Building the Momentum for Change” and Part 2 talked about “Learning from our past”.

Although our recent efforts have been focussed on program development, the DP team has also sought to stabilize and grow its digital preservation infrastructure: specifically the LAC Digital Archive, which serves as the repository of preservation masters.

There are approximately 6.7 Pb of digital collections for one copy, (2 copies reach a total 13.4 Pb) contained in secure and environmentally-controlled vaults. Our preferred storage medium is LTO tape, approximately 12,000 at last count. Media migration in an ongoing activity. Planning for migration to LTO8 tape is in progress.

There is a dedicated and fully functioning operational team working on:

  1. Migrating legacy archival media to newer formats. LAC has been collecting unpublished and published digital resources since the early 1970s. Formats targeted for migration to new storage technologies include 8”, 5” and 3.5” floppy discs; DDS/DAT tapes; IBM 9-track, 3480 and 3490 tapes; QIC, MC and DC data cartridges; CDs and DVDs; ZIP and JAZ discs.

    This activity started in 2013 as part of a “Migration Strategy and Plan for Digital Legacy Material” and continues to this day. To support this migration initiative, our migration lab is equipped with a collection of legacy hardware and software, as well as the recent acquisition of a FRED workstation.
  2. Collaborating with AV specialists on the migration of at-risk audiovisual collections based on this Strategy. Since 2009, LAC has migrated 190,000 hours of audio and moving image content, amounting to 4,725 Tb of master files and 111 Tb of access files.
  3. Capturing LAC digitization initiatives. The most recent collection pertains to the personnel records of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces comprising 670 TB of data containing 30 million preservation masters and 620,000 files accessible online.
  4. Other collections are being systematically identified for secure storage in the LAC Digital Archive, and workflows being developed such as the Government of Canada Web Archive (over 40 Tb of archival web holdings, comprising over 1 billion assets) and publications acquired through legal deposit.
  5. Providing access to preservation masters as the authoritative copy. The Digital Preservation team retrieves about 1 million objects a year.
  6. Providing advice and support to federal government departments and LAC colleagues on digital preservation. LAC established an interdepartmental working group with other government departments at the federal level to discuss issues and challenges with the long-term retention of digital records.

    Digital Preservation is a shared challenge with colleagues in the government recordkeeping community and this working group is an attempt to tackle some of those issues together.

In 2017, LAC launched an RFP for a digital asset management system and the contract was awarded to Preservica in 2018. Systems testing is ongoing. By the end of this exercise, we will have designed workflows from acquisition to preservation, tested ingest of collections starting with electronic publications, and determined the best configuration of Preservica to meet the requirements of the digital preservation program.

We are also actively monitoring research and developments in the international digital preservation community. Our membership in the Digital Preservation Coalition and the knowledge sharing by digital preservation specialists across the globe have influenced much of our work.

The last part of this 4-part series will discuss closing the gaps and “Putting the pieces together”.


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