This article was originally posted on the CILIP Government Information Group blog on the 24th July.
Simone O’Byrne is a Library and Information Specialist at the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. She serves as a Director on the Ontario Government Libraries Council, and is Chair of that organisation’s Working Group on Ontario Government Publications. Simone can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Ontario government.
Digital publishing has proved to be game changing in jurisdictions around the world. Online publications are hard to track, can change without notice, disappear, and often lack adequate metadata. Collecting government publications is challenging; in Ontario, there are concerns that many documents will either be lost or become inaccessible over time.
Canada comprises ten provinces and three territories, each with a sub-national government. Ontario is the most populous province, with around 13 ½ million people. The Ontario Public Service numbers around 60,000 full time employees, with 20 libraries or information centres. Not every Ministry, Agency, Board or Commission has a library.
Until 2012, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) maintained a legal deposit program that included publications from all levels of government. In 2012 provincial and territorial government publications were specifically exempted from LAC’s legal deposit mandate.
Only six sub-national jurisdictions within Canada have a legislated mandate to collect and provide long term access to their own publications: one is a Provincial Library; one a Provincial Archives and four are Legislative Libraries. Ontario is not one of the six; left with no legal deposit, and with “published works” specifically excluded under Ontario’s Archives and Recordkeeping Act , our publications are clearly at risk.