According to a report from the Auditor General’s office, summarized in a Toronto Star article, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) spent $15.4 million on a digital record system it never used. “That finding is one of numerous concerns uncovered by auditors examining Library and Archives Canada’s ability to keep up with its archival mandate in an increasingly digital world.”
The audit revealed that in 2006, eight years before Guy Berthiaume, the current chief librarian and archivist took over, LAC built a system for storing and preserving digital records and shut down the project in 2012 “without documentation from management on the rationale for the decision.”
The audit also found:
- LAC has a backlog of about 98,000 boxes, including 24,000 boxes of military records.
- Finding aids for residential school system records at LAC listed boxes, but did not describe box contents, described records that did not match the contents of the boxes, or failed to identify all records in the boxes.
- LAC says digital records will represent the “format of choice” by 2017.
- LAC has no corporate digitial strategy or program in place to manage the enormous amount of electronic documents it anticipates receiving from federal departments.
- Since 2009, LAC was able to update the directives for just 30 of 195 federal agencies, meaning it could not ensure it was acquiring all retired records of archival value. As a result many records were stuck in limbo, awaiting LAC’s decision as to whether they should be saved or destroyed.
- LAC agreed with the auditor’s recommendations and responded with plans to address the various shortcomings.
Read more in the Toronto Star‘s article, Federal library struggling with backlog, key records poorly filed, auditor-general finds.
A CBC report about the audit is available here.