Have you ever ordered an archival record only to find out that it is restricted? Archival records may be subject to access restrictions. To find out if a record is open or restricted, you must identify its access code. When you are in the Archives Search database, you can find these codes in the “Conditions of access” section of records descriptions (see image below):
The most common access codes are 90, 32, 18 and 10.
Open Records (code 90)
Any records that are unrestricted and directly available for consultation are marked as “90: Open.”
Government Records (code 32)
Some government records must be reviewed according to the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act beforebeing made available. Records restricted under these laws are identified as “32: Restricted by law.” For an example, please consult the Operational records of Prairie Northern Region record description.
To request restricted government records, follow the instructions on our Access to Information and Privacy page.
Private Records (codes 18 and 10)
Records that are “18: Restricted” can be accessed through an application procedure established by the donor. These restrictions affect what you can consult, as well as what you can copy.
Records that are “10: Closed” cannot be consulted. In some cases, restrictions on closed records are set to be reviewed after a date specified by the donor.
To find out what files are restricted in a private fonds, consult the PDF document linked under “Conditions of Access” in the fonds description. For an example of this type of document, please see the Lester B. Pearson fonds description.
The next post, Discover the Access Codes for Archival Records at Library and Archives Canada – Part II, will review other access codes that apply to archival holdings. Until then, let us know if you have any questions or comments. We would love to hear from you!