Hello to each of you, the clients and supporters of Library and Archives Canada (LAC).
As Director of the new Online Experience Division at LAC, I am happy to kick-start a blog series on changes to our online services. We have been working hard to refresh our web presence to make it easier for you to find information, use our services and access the collection online. You may have already noticed some new features on our site in the last few months, such as My Account and the improved digital publication deposit system for Canadian publishers and self-publishers. I am happy to report that we are launching our new website and application updates at the end of August 2022. This blog series will give you a preview of what’s to come and provide you with the opportunity to let us know what you think.
Teams from across LAC, led by our web team, have been working intensely over the past few years to design a new way to navigate and interact with LAC virtually. They have been reviewing thousands and thousands of web pages to ensure we are offering you the most relevant and up-to-date content. A few weeks ago, LAC launched Vision 2030, our strategic plan for the way forward. With clear priorities and ambitious goals, Vision 2030 defines where we want to go, what we want to achieve and how we will get there over the next decade. A cornerstone of this vision is a user-centric website that invites current and new users to discover LAC and all it has to offer.
At the same time, we have been changing how we work so that we can be more responsive to you and add new features to our digital services more regularly. We have a multi-disciplinary team that plans its work in two-week iterations so it can easily adjust to solve problems or pivot to a new priority. This team, which includes IT developers, user-experience professionals and archival/library experts, is focused on ensuring that all our systems work together in an intuitive way. We have better integrated Co-lab with Collection Search and, more recently, added My Research, which allows you to create and save research lists. The team is currently working on a new interface to search all of the historic censuses at once, and we will share this with you soon.
We’ve also built a team focused on user-experience research and design to help us better anticipate your needs and create tools that are more intuitive to use. This includes incorporating new techniques into our planning, such as mapping the journey you need to take to get what you are looking for at LAC. Identifying the ‘pain points’ in that process helps us prioritize what to work on next. We’ve also been conducting usability research and testing with real clients. For example, to create the structure for the new website, we used a card-sorting exercise with our Youth Advisory Council to test whether our assumption on how to organize our material was right. We have also been gathering your feedback through an ongoing survey on our website. We will continue to do this and also use this blog series to seek your feedback.
We are excited that our new website will improve your digital experience with LAC and its collections, but we also know that we won’t get everything right immediately… and that’s okay. We will also still be missing key features that would make your online interactions with LAC better. That is why the August launch is just the beginning and we will continue to refine our tools, correct our mistakes and continue to add new content and features after the launch. Your feedback and engagement will be invaluable, so we welcome comments on the blog series and invite you to look out for other opportunities to help us test new products and features.
Stay tuned to this blog series over the coming weeks as my colleagues share more sneak peaks of what you can expect from the new website.
Karen Linauskas is the director of Online Experience Division at Library and Archives Canada.