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House Info-Research Solutions (©
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Researching the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada
Recherche sur la Forteresse-de-Louisbourg Lieu historique national du Canada
Canada ~ Parcs Canada
Cape Breton ~ Le Cap-Breton
THIS RESEARCH AND GENEALOGICAL WEBSITE WAS ARCHIVED IN 2010
FORTRESS OF LOUISBOURG NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE OF CANADA (N.S.)
: (902) 733-2280
Fax : (902) 733-2362.
COLLECTION as of July 25, 1994
by Eric Krause (Retired 1997)
[Note: This is the draft for: Fortress of Louisbourg NHS-Management Planning Issue Analysis and Background Paper July 25, 1994 Final Draft by Eric Krause Fortress of Louisbourg Archives/library Collection [FILENAME: 9703-13.wpd] - Please Note: This final report is Parks Canada copyrighted]
Issue #1: Definition
While the Fortress Archives and Library exist as two physically distinct collections, they comprise a single intellectual resource.
Issue #2: Preservation Management
The preservation/conservation/security of the Archives/Library Collection is a prerequisite for proper information management.
Issue #3: Information Management
The computerization and imaging of the Collection is a priority.
Issue #4: Public Access
The promotion of public access to the Collection is desirable.
The Fortress Archives and Library meet the traditional definition in two ways. Yet, in one way, in their relationship where they do not meet the traditional definition, there exists a major character defining element.
In a traditionally way, the Louisbourg collections hold distinctly different types of materials. Accordingly, the Library is a repository for secondary, generally meaning published materials such as books and periodicals. In contrast, the Archives holds a vast range of primary, generally meaning unpublished documentation.
Also, their holdings have grown in the expected way. Since 1961, Fortress staff have collected or produced information, on the 18th through 20th centuries, required to meet their operational goals. Over time, as is often the case elsewhere with other archives and libraries, the Louisbourg repositories have acquired important elements of this resource. As is also the general case, acquisition has meant responsibility, which at Louisbourg has produced major custodial and managerial services designed to protect and make available this collection for the on-going use of Fortress staff.
Yet there is one major difference. Generally, any tie between archives and library is more accidental than planned. This is oft proven by the fact that, until only recently, it is librarians (because, very often, they (or their administrative bosses) have a budget) who take custodial charge of their institution's original records. It is also true that Librarians tend to treat an archives resource like a library resource when describing or storing them.
But at Louisbourg, this was not the situation at all. Since the 1960's, there have been nearly always separate archivist and Librarian positions (though never under separate budgets). The creation in 1977-1978 of the position of Historical Records Supervisor simply completed what was an evolutionary process. In the appointment (which included Librarian and Photo Archives P.Y.'s), there was a clear recognition not only that there existed two distinct Louisbourg collections requiring different but equal treatment, but also that there was close linkage between the two. And so here, in linkage resides the character defining element of the Louisbourg Archives-Library relationship.
The two repositories hold their information in a variety of formats - paper, micro-form, photo, audio-visual, and computer - and in significant quantities.
These formats cover a variety of types. One are administrative records of a historical nature. These are records which outline the growth and activities of the Fortress and significant events. As such, they are to be retained, and transferred to the keeping of the National Archives of Canada (NAC) according to NAC schedules.
Another are operational records, for example, dealing with .... ceremonies and celebrations ... information services ... library services ... buildings construction ... building plans and specifications ... building materials purchased ... furniture and furnishings ... and contracts. These are types of records normally disposed of according to NAC schedules.
And yet another are research records, a sub-set of operational records, required to meet the needs of historical interpretation. For example, there are 250,000 original five by eight research cards and an even larger collection of original photo shots. There are also some 30,000 published library monographs and serials, and 750,000 pages of reproduced microfilmed manuscript material dealing with the 18th century. There are, as well, thousands of standard file folders, held in hundreds of standard-sized record boxes. In addition, there is a collection of rare 18th century published books.
Since 1961, there has been only one sustained financial and human resources effort to preserve the Archives/Library Collection.
Following that initiative, information preservation has continued on an ad hoc basis.
Until 1984, manual devices, including card catalogues, were the only point of entry for archives and library information management at Fortress Louisbourg. The inherent limitations of such devices meant that each repository had to develop multiple, independent data storage and retrieval systems. Generally too, but with some notable exceptions, this development also occurred irrespective of the other repository.
Since 1984, but particularly in the 1990's, computerization, including imaging, of materials in the two repositories has moved forward at a remarkable pace. As a result, the differences between archival and librarian materials, from a storage, retrieval and materials viewpoint, has begun to blur. But more importantly, computerization is grossly accelerating the character defining relationship first noticed in the 1970's. Extensive cross-referencing between the two collections is now the norm rather than the exception. And with these cross-ties has come a major dependency of one collection upon the other.
Finding aids, bibliographic cross references, indexes, and the like are the accelerators driving research projects towards their conclusions. Unpublished documents provide the historical context to institutional policies and programmes which government policy deems worthy of publicizing. In-House and published materials require a manuscript basis for legitimacy.
The Department considers the holdings of the Library as of interest to Parks Canada personnel outside of Louisbourg, and hence has made it available through a departmental wide system known as ELIAS. However, it is generally Fortress staff who continue to use the Historical Records Collection. As such, the Fortress does not overtly advertise that these holdings are publicly open to the serious researcher. In particular, researchers are generally unaware of the massive range of unpublished research materials existing in the Historical Records Collection.
(III) CURRENT SITUATION
The two physical collections are intellectually one.
Both the Archives and Library have reached near-full physical storage capacity. Holdings are scattered about the confines of the Fortress in insecure facilities. Sit-down research space is at a premium. No where are there proper storage environments or acceptable security systems. Both the professional researcher and the general public cannot but notice these deficiencies when visiting or conducting research.
There is no Archives or Library Management Plan, no Disaster Plan, no dedicated archival goals, and no procedural instructions for staff or visitor.
These resources are required if the Fortress is to fulfil its operational CRM level 1, level 2 and other responsibilities. However, neither the Archives nor Library have the human or the financial resources to conserve their holdings.
Computerization and Imaging is an increasingly important business which requires planned upgrades. Yet there is no long-term equipment and software upgrade or replacement plan. Rather ad hoc decision-making rules the day, be that a year-end financial buy or luck that a PAD meets some unknown regional office criteria. National systems such as ELIAS are consistently out of tune, so much so that ELIAS hasn't even yet come to grips with proven imaging technology. Yet Ottawa insists that we come on board.
The Fortress emphasizes only staff use. The public is welcome, but this fact is not advertised.
Not all Fortress records are scheduled.
For scheduled records, the information life cycle generally adheres to the following set pattern:
(2) Organize/retrieve/use or access/transmit
(4) Dormant storage
(5) Transfer to archives or destruction
The library and archives takes depositions of both scheduled and unscheduled records. For scheduled records slated for optional destruction, they provide for additional review for retention. If a destruction were to hinder or not to serve the interests of historical research, historical reconstruction/maintenance, operations, administration or the Canadian public at large, the library and/or archives would retain the record as a matter of course.
The usefulness of its records to the Fortress and their value to its operational requirements is the key to the retention of records.
There are no precise regulations to how to preserve on going operational records.
The fact that the Fortress, a National Historic Site, has both an archives and a library, with linked records to better meet its operational requirements, is proof that its records have local and historical and usefulness value.
The Department is obliged to adequately protect the Fortress archival and library resources.
The Department must commit resources to ensure adequate information management.
Government Of Canada Policy
Policy states that information holdings includes all information held by an institution, regardless of physical mode or medium in which it is stored. The only exception is published material not prepared or produced by or for the government.
There is policy and guidelines (Management of Information Holdings Policy and Management of Information Technology Policy) which govern the collection, creation, organization and retrieval of government information holdings. In summary, they aim to ensure 1) co-ordinated effort 2) cost-effectiveness 3) support for government priorities and and programme delivery 4) increased productivity 5) and enhanced service to the public.
There are also statutory and evaluation controls (National Archives of Canada Act) regarding the identification, organization, storage, conservation, retention and disposal of government records. Concerning surplus and bibliographical descriptions of an institution's own published and In-House unpublished materials, the National Library (National Library Act) has a role to play. Both the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act also require that information be managed in a comprehensive, inventoried manner. Because these latter two policies do not apply to published or purchasable materials, Policy requires that federal libraries manage their institution's published and In-House unpublished materials in a way which facilities their use by the public and by the institution's own decision makers.
Canadian Federal institutions vary in the degree to which they commit resources to information management. Nevertheless, it is the view of policy that information-based resources, required for programme and service delivery, are an essential tool and so rich in investment and asset as to require proper management. As such, an Information Technology and Systems Plan that accurately reflects an institution's specific needs, its future operational requirements, and the transition of its holdings to a "seamless technological environment" is a must.
Equally, it is the view of policy that in a time of restraint that a business like approach be made when considering information technology investments designed to improve program and service delivery. Revenue generation, partnership agreements, and shared, computerized open-systems form part of this business mix.
Policy is concerned with the indexing, filing and protection of information holdings. Thus it discusses the planning, directing, organizing, control and protection of information holdings throughout their life cycle. A collection policy based on obtaining only information directly relevant to the programs and functions of an institution is emphasized. Schedules are to be consulted for the purposes of records retention and disposal.
General Records Disposal Schedules (GRDS), as developed by the Dominion Archivist, are the mechanisms by which institutions determine which administrative (housekeeping) records are to be retained (either in active or in dormant storage), or which, when no longer deemed to be of any administrative value, are to be either destroyed, or transferred to the Public Archives of Canada because of their historical value, or removed from government control to another's control. Where justified, administrative records which do not contain personal information may be retained for one year beyond their disposal date. Any longer retention period requires the approval of the Dominion Archivist.
Dormant storage may be located in a government institution or in a NAC operated Federal Records Centre.
The GRDS recognizes that there is a clear difference between internal administrative records (records common to most institutions in the areas of administration, buildings and properties, equipment and supplies, finance and personnel) and operational records. Operational records pertain to an institution's own particular responsibilities. Schedules for operational records appear only upon development by the institution and subsequent approval by the Dominion Archivist.
Essential records are institutional records required in the event of an emergency. They comprise records required to conduct survival operations and those required to re-establish organizational patterns, among other things. They shall be stored at a secure Public of Archives site.
Government Information Technology Standards Policy provides the standards for the maintenance, storage and protection of records. In addition, institutions are directed to consult with National Archives of Canada and security offices (Government Security Policy) as required.
To identify and conserve holdings of importance for future use naturally follows. Important holdings range from those serving to "reconstruct the evolution of policy and program decisions or have historical or archival importance." In the same vein, institutions are to "identify and document projects, programs and policies sufficiently to ensure continuity in the management of government institutions and the preservation of a historical record." Thus Policy focuses on the need to organize information in such a way to make it "readily available for the study of decision making in government and other educational purposes which explain the historical role of the federal government in Canadian society."
"Aspects relating to institutional histories, profiles and case studies" are also records deemed to be important. Where an institution wishes to develop and implement such writings, such as a case study of a departmental project over a period of time based on historical research, it may wish to consult with the Canadian Centre for Management Development for advice, and guidance.
The National Archives of Canada scheduling process and other agreements of the NAC defines what is information of historical or archival importance.
Dissemination of information, for purchase, to the public where there is significant demand is also Information Holdings Policy. In a broader context, the Government Communications Policy applies.
There are but two options:
Maintain the status quo, which is: a haphazard, scattered Archives/Library collection,; neglect; uncontrolled and improper use; minimal conservation and security precautions; record deterioration; a the norm that current technological advances may be ignored as long as possible; and public use more through accident than design.
Embrace the concept of information importance, which is: to consolidate Archives/Library holdings by physical medium; to emphasize proper care and use by adhering to professional standards of preservation and information mangement; to embrace proven technology where deemed advantageous; and to encourage public access.
Fortress informational holdings statements are to refer to the existence of a single Archives/Library intellectual resource.
The Fortress must secure, protect and make more readily available archival, library and in-house, museum type materials now scattered in large quantities about the Park. Physical storage can then be by media type, protected by the environmental and security control that best suits each particular format. The Fortress must apply the necessary controls to preserve original provenance. Acceptable standards that ensure uniformity, proper techniques and professional credibility in the eyes of others is critical.
The construction of a storage/computerized-retrieval building complex which will centralize, conserve/safe-keep and make available these records is critical. Storage will be by medium with all appropriate environmental/security controls set in place.
The computerization and imaging of the Historical Records Collection should proceed using the most current of proven technology. The Fortress informational highway should be dramatically increased through the installation of fibre optics technology for the linking together of the archives/library, administration complex and the historic site.
The Fortress should encourage the public, whether visitor to the archives/library or to the historic site, to access the Historical Records Collection for its informational value. Genealogy, historical statistics, and historical images are obvious topics that would be of interest to a visitor.
The Fortress archives/library, the U.C.C.B. and the Fortress of Louisbourg Volunteers should form a partnership designed to exploit the informational value of the Historical Records Collection. In particular, the virtual reality agreement between the Fortress and the U.C.C.B. should be used as a model.
Local community programmes, such as an adult learning centre, should have access to Fortress information of value to the success of such programmes.
The Fortress must place itself immediately upon the Informational Highway as an information provider. Public access includes both free and purchased access. Purchased access is quite common and most acceptable on the information highway, in both cost-recovery and profit-making terms.
Policy and Guidelines
The Fortress has considered the possibility that the archives/library are cultural resources as defined by cultural resource management policy and has determined that they are not. It is therefore recommended that for archives/library collection purposes, the Management of Information Holdings Policy and the Management of Information Technology Policy should provide the prime guidance concerning the collection, creation, organization and retrieval of the Site's information holdings. Given that the Fortress' archives/library should be managed under these two policies, therefore the determination of historic value through the identification of cultural resource management levels would not apply.