Opening the vaults: 10 million pages and counting!

In 2010, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) initiated a new risk-based process called “block review” to open more federal government records under the auspices of Canada’s Access to Information Act and Privacy Act. This initiative has been very successful and LAC is proud to announce that we have opened more than 10 million pages of Canadian government records, which are now available to the public.

What is a block review?

It is the systematic review of blocks or series of government records currently held in LAC’s permanent holdings. It incorporates a risk-based approach that looks at both the age of the record and the subject. Block review is completed by using various sampling strategies to determine whether the records can be opened for public access under both the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. The process involves identifying and examining representative parts of the archival record and, based on the findings, the records are either opened or not.

What records were targeted for the block review process?

LAC holds a myriad of Canadian federal government records documenting all aspects of Canadian public life. The block review process has opened material on many of these subjects. Of particular interest are:

  • records documenting Canada’s military history
  • records providing evidence of the relationship between the federal government and Canada’s Aboriginal population
  • archival material detailing our significant diplomatic and trade relationships with foreign governments and international organizations
  • regional documents created across all of Canada as the federal government administered its numerous functions and activities
  • archival material documenting how we celebrated our centenary in 1967—of timely interest as Canadians prepare for this country’s 150th anniversary
Black-and-white photograph of six men standing on the seashore, with a ship visible in the background.

An example of a collection that is now more widely available through the block review process. The photograph relates to the Canadian delegation for the International Commission for Control and Supervision in Vietnam in 1955 (MIKAN 3192391).

More records will open up as LAC continues to contribute to Canada’s Open Government initiative. We will be posting updates on the progress of the initiative, so watch for highlights of the collections being opened up to Canadians.

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