The government of Canada is in a constant state of evolution in order to adapt to the changing world in which it operates. As such, the individuals within the government must also be able to adapt in order to stay relevant and deliver the most efficient and effective service to the public. By adopting a steadfast nature and enthusiasm for innovation, the public service has not only responded to the many technological challenges and opportunities that have been presented to them, they have become a benchmark for how governments around the world provide information-related services to their citizens.
Embracing the past and future
While technological changes have most of society looking forward, the government of Canada has been using these advances to help citizens look to the past and not only examine, but celebrate our Canadian legacy, culture and heritage. Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is the government organization mandated to acquire and preserve Canada’s documentary heritage in order to disseminate their knowledge to the public. Since its inception, LAC has undertaken the task of cataloguing and collecting Canadian works from all over the country, in a wide variety of mediums. Recently, LAC has begun to migrate their vast collection of audiovisual recordings into new, digital formats to reduce deterioration of the artifacts and to facilitate public access online.
LAC has also begun leveraging technology and social media to disseminate the documentary heritage in their trust to the online community. LibraryArchiveCanada, the YouTube channel created and maintained by the forward-thinking public service workers at LAC, contains a wide array of videos depicting not only documentary footage of Canadian life in the 1900s, but also videos on the contents of their collections, how they acquire materials and their progress on internal projects.
Cause for celebration
The projects LAC is currently undertaking improve not only the preservation of their collections, but also allow for quick and easy access to cultural and historic information online. This need for online access is in response to society’s growing demand to migrate all information online for simple search and retrieval to a growing number of digital devices owned by the public. Historically, the collections housed by LAC and other heritage institutions were only accessible in person. But now anyone can access their information anytime, anywhere and, as any IM professional knows, access to public information is vital for a healthy relationship between citizens and their government.
The public service values democracy, respect for others, integrity, stewardship and excellence. These values are upheld by the government’s continued efforts, perseverance and enthusiasm to provide information to the public at large.
LAC is not alone in their endeavours to leverage technological advances to create something culturally and historically meaningful to the public; other government organizations all over the country are striving to provide service to the public through an online presence. Many government organizations and agencies are taking a step further in digital communications and crowd sourcing the Canadian public in order to make significant decisions. For example, the government of Canada is asking for input from Canadians online, in cities all over the country, on what kind of celebrations they would like to have to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Canada. The results will be used for statistical purposes to generate ideas for the event on July 1, 2017.
To fully tell the story of Canada, it is imperative that public institutions manage and steward their information holdings in a manner that allows for contribution to the history and cultural fabric of Canada. Our country’s museums are filled with artifacts from the past, and in this electronic age, the information of today will be the beginnings of tomorrow’s story.
The public service recognizes that citizens want to contribute to Canada’s legacy, history and culture along with them, and they are taking the steps to ensure this trend continues and evolves into the future.