Library and Archives Canada: Risks and Uncertainties

Poking around on the LAC website I found a link to the document Quarterly Financial Report for the Quarter Ended December 31, 2020: Statement Outlining Results, Risks and Significant Changes in Operations, Personnel and Programs.

Aside from the financial information, it identifies three of LAC’s key risks:

Using its existing systems, LAC may not be able to acquire, manage and sustainably preserve the exponential volume of digital content it acquires and digitizes and that is transferred to it. To mitigate this risk, LAC must definitely optimize the systems, infrastructure, processes and tools that underpin its digital operations. The testing and deployment of LAC’s Digital Asset Management System (DAMS) and the development of the project to renew its archival information system will partially mitigate the effects of this risk, by contributing to the improvement of its capacity and the interoperability of its digital infrastructure.

Virtual access to LAC’s collection may not meet the expectations of current users and may not help it to attract more users. Developing LAC’s digital infrastructure, digitizing the collection, making it available and developing user-friendly digital tools are essential to facilitating access to the collection. To mitigate this risk, LAC will update its user-centric service delivery strategy. In addition, it will develop an integrated management approach for its virtual tools and services.

LAC may not have sufficient capacity to meet its legal obligations regarding access to the archival records of federal institutions and to personal information. LAC’s responsibilities in this area go well beyond those of other departments, since LAC is the custodian of billions of pages of documents that it holds on behalf of more than 200 Government of Canada (GC) organizations. LAC will continue to participate in GC efforts to identify
government-wide solutions to the challenges presented by the current delivery model. However, in view of the increasing volume and complexity of access requests subject to the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act, LAC will need to find solutions so that Library and Archives Canada can acquire the necessary digital tools and provide the required services in accordance with service standards. The development of a more efficient digital service delivery model will partially mitigate the effects of this risk.

The risks are expressed as “may not.”  That should be “do not.”

How can LAC honestly write the “exponential volume of digital content it … digitizes” when digitization has decreased? Maybe the exponential mentioned is an exponential decrease!

No doubt, virtual access to LAC’s collection does not meet the expectation of users. No question about it, both in terms of the response on the web and new digitization initiatives. What can we expect in terms of improvements to service as a result of the strategies and approaches mentioned?

LAC is not meeting legal requirements in response to the Access to Information requests. Delays are months and even a year and more. Regular clients have become surprised and delighted when a substantive response comes.

Military Monday Extra: No. 1 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station

Sometimes it takes a person at a distance to give us perspective and really appreciate value.

The No. 1 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station project, covered in this blog post by Paul Chiddicks who writes regularly for the UK Family Tree magazine, is a case in point. Read it for yourself.

Paul has many more blog posts worth investigating at

Thanks to Andrea Harding for bringing Paul’s blog post to my attention. Suggests like that are always welcome.

British Newspaper Archive May Additions

The British Newspaper Archive now has a total of 42,915,614 pages online (42,441,368 last month).

This month 65 papers had pages added (51 in the previous month). There were 29 (22) new titles. Dates range from 1802 to 1990.

Those with more than 10,000 pages added were:

Title Pages Dates
London and China Express 91,678 1858-1861, 1863-1905, 1907-1919, 1923-1931
West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser 78,714 1951-1956, 1959-1990
Lynn Advertiser 61,502 1926-1928, 1971-1977, 1980-1989
London Daily News 22,740 1912-1920
Cycling 22,076 1893, 1907-1912
Galway Express 16,428 1853-1920
Inverness Advertiser and Ross-shire Chronicle 15,382 1849-1885
Blackpool Gazette & Herald 15,326 1894-1896, 1899-1907, 1913-1919
Northern Weekly Gazette 13,608 1910, 1922-1931
Torquay Times, and South Devon Advertiser 13,076 1934-1949, 1951-1961
Teviotdale Record and Jedburgh Advertiser 12,050 1855-1872, 1874-1878, 1881, 1885-1910
Kirriemuir Free Press and Angus Advertiser 11,626 1915-1960

Military Monday: British War Dead on Your Street

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has just  completed War Graves Week to  “shine a light on our work.” Website visitors were invited to “discover your local connection” using a postcode link to “find out who lived in your area.”

While it does not work for Canadian postal codes you might want to check it out for UK addresses in your family’s past. Who from your ancestor’s neighbourhood lost their life? Was it someone they knew or from a family they knew? Can it give any insight into your ancestor’s wartime experience?

To find the present postcode, they didn’t exist until trialled in 1959, use the Royal Mail postcode finder.

Using my grandfather’s address in Edgeware the person found in the CWGC postcode search was Betty Mary Daphne Perrin, a civilian who died on 5 October 1944, age 17 years. She was the daughter of Henry and Evelyn Perrin and died at 5 Pembroke Place. That was 150 metres from my grandfather’s house.  There were two other casualties buried in the same cemetery who died on that day who lived even closer!

A brief description of a bomb experience just 500m from my grandfather’s home, it could have been the same raid, is at starting at the 7th paragraph. I can now appreciate his wartime experience a bit more.

Sunday Sundries

Miscellaneous items I found of interest during the week.

I’m sure I’ve seen that before, but worth repeating.

The Importance of Not Being Earnest
A panel discussion (audio mp3) from the LSE on what’s philosophically interesting about comedy. Both have a lot in common: showing up the ordinary as odd, critiquing the status quo, hecklers… But can humour be a source of knowledge?

Group-think: what it is and how to avoid it
Genealogical, family history, library and archive organizations aren’t exempt.

Royal archives that we pay for but aren’t allowed to read: a brief history
The examples are for Australia and the UK, but undoubtedly relevant for Canada.

TheGenealogist now has Image Archive pictures pinned to maps
See the video explanation and example at adds The Evening Standard and The Independent

Thanks to this week’s contributors: Anonymous, Celia Lewis, Douglas Wallace, Jo Stanbridge, Judith H., Michael Harrison, Robert Halfyard, Roger Thomas, Unknown.

OGS/Ontario Ancestors Conference Week

Starting on Monday there’s a gradual build-up to a full weekend of lectures during the annual OGS conference, this year all online.

Monday thru Thursday the single sessions start at 7 pm.

Thursday is the regular monthly OGS webinar open to the public with no fee.

Friday is Ancestry Day, a separate registration event.

Proceedings on Saturday and Sunday start at 9 am with two parallel sessions. On Saturday at 3 pm there’s an allowance for a 2-hour OGS Annual General Meeting. On Sunday session go until 5:40 pm.

All the details and registration are at

Findmypast adds to Middlesex Baptisms

Ealing adds 1802-1812 to the collection which now covers 1717 to 1876 with 18,982 records.
Records for  Harrow, All Saints are added which now covers 1838 to 1876 with 1,280 records. A larger Harrow collection is Harrow, St Mary with 9,775 baptismal records from 1653 to 1840.
The addition of
Hayes records from 1557-1812 brings the parish total to 9,816 up to 1875.
FMP also adds baptismal records for Hillingdon from 1559-1876 although without including it in the parish list. Could it be listed as Uxbridge with 18,106 records from 1538 to 1876? 

Gone, forgotten but retrievable

At Friday’s BIFHSGO social I was asked about the BIFHSGO logo, specifically the colour. I recalled it was originally black and white with a rustic hand-drawn appearance. Over the years it changed to a more uniform shape and the colour varied. I’ve forgotten the details.
After the social I realized that the Wayback Machine has an archive of It goes back to 2001 with 447 captures at various dates.

If interested to see how the website and logo have changed, see*/

The Wayback Machine is a useful tool to have in your arsenal for those times when the website you remembered has vanished. Go to and click on Web, then enter the web address (URL) for the site you want.

City of Ottawa Archives 2020 Annual Report

The Archives annual report, available at the time of writing as Document 1 at was received by Ottawa City Council at its meeting on 26 May as part of the City Clerk’s 2020 annual report.

The 27-page report is substantive and detailed. In summary:

With 2020 being an abnormal year, Archives activity dropped in aggregate, especially relating to its corporate mandate. Yet the benchmark statistics below nevertheless also show that, over this year despite the pandemic and its effects and restrictions (including redeployed staff), the Archives did not lag very far behind overall expected results, with its community work holding steady and its public engagement through reference and outreach being significantly more than ever.

There’s a quantitative annual summary and statistics section on various aspects of the Archives activity. For instance, a four-year month-by-month bar chart showing search totals for the Ottawa Museums and Archives Collections (OMAC) online catalogue. That’s in contrast to the annual report of the Ottawa Public Library which fails to report on the operation in anything like that detail.


First Virtual Ancestry Day

On Friday 4 June 2021, from 9 am to 7 pm in conjunction with the Ontario Genealogical Society is offering a full day of mostly 30-minute expert talks.
Full details and registration ($25) at

Here’s the program.

ANCESTRY DAY – Sessions 9:00 am to 7:00 pm

Time Subject Speaker
9:00 AM Opening of Ancestry Day – Prizes, Discounts Lesley Anderson | Ancestry 5 min
9:05 AM Getting the most out of Ancestry – Searching Records & Online Trees Lesley Anderson | Ancestry 30 min
9:35 AM Make Discoveries with Ancestry Hints Karen Joyce Lowe | Ancestry 15 min
9:50 AM Boots on the ground – Land/Census records Advisory Board Member
Ken McKinley
30 min
10:20 AM Q & A with Customer service reps and Genealogy Experts/BREAK 20 min
10:40 AM Find a Grave: What You Can Do and What’s New Peter Drinkwater | Ancestry 20 min
11:00 AM Challenges of Jewish Research: Names, Dates and Places ProGenealogist Janette Silverman  30 min
11:30 AM ASK AN EXPERT – Irish Research  ProGenealogist Joe Buggy 30 min
12:00 PM ASK AN EXPERT – Military Research – 1st and 2nd WW ProGenealogist Simon Pearce 1 hour
1:00 PM BREAK/Q & A with Customer service reps and Genealogy Experts 15 min
1:15 PM AncestryDNA 101: A Beginner’s Guide to DNA Discovery Lisa Elzey | Ancestry 30 min
1:45 PM AncestryDNA  102: AncestryDNA Matches for Family History Discoveries Kelly Becker | Ancestry 30 min
2:15 PM AncestryDNA 103: ThruLines  & Custom Groups Brooke Alius & Randon Morford | Ancestry 30 min
2:45 PM AncestryDNA Communities: Bringing New Discoveries to Your Research Lisa Elzey | Ancestry 30 min 
3:15 PM Q & A with Customer service reps and Genealogy Experts/Break 30 min
3:45 PM Marriage and Obituary Records: Indexes on Ancestry®—Images on Crista Cowan | Ancestry 20 min
4:10 PM Five Things to Do with Anne Mitchell | Ancestry 20 min
4:30 PM Quebec Genealogical Records Advisory Board Member
Gary Schroeder
1 hour
5:30 PM Q & A with Customer service reps and Genealogy Experts/BREAK 30 min
6:00 PM Ancestry at Sea – Researching Passenger Lists Advisory Board Member Glenn Wright 30 min
6:30 PM Adding Sources, Using hints and Merge feature Advisory Board Member Lianne Kruger 30 min

Meanwhile, at Library and Archives Canada … neglect

Every article like

Major project to allow digital access to 130 years of The Press archives

is rubbing salt in the wounds of the damage to Canada’s heritage inflicted by years of deliberate neglect of our newspaper heritage by Library and Archives Canada.

The article announces a major addition to New Zealand digitized newspaper content to be made freely available for searching online under a landmark agreement with the National Library of New Zealand.

Now approaching its 20th birthday, the New Zealand Papers Past site has about 30 million page views a year from about two million visitors.

Along with New Zealand, Australia and the US have active free newspaper digitization from the central government. In the UK the British Library has a free legacy newspaper digitization project and has announced some new free content will become available in a new round of digitization in partnership with Findmypast.

As President of the Ontario Library Association in December 2017 Leslie Weir, now Librarian and Archivist of Canada, wrote:

“Newspapers represent the most extensive documentation of a community’s activities. The small weekly rural publication or the long-running daily newspaper in larger urban centres bring forward a community’s priorities and perspectives in a way that no other material can. Local newspapers document the extraordinary stories that define and shape our communities and are, for all intents, historical record.”

What has LAC done on newspapers? No dedicated newspaper specialist! No current newspaper strategy! No mention in organization plans! A small collection of indigenous newspapers digitized funded by external sources.