Update from the Provincial Acquisition Strategy working group

18 Dec 2015 12:03 PM | Danielle Robichaud

The Provincial Acquisition Strategy working group will soon be seeking feedback from our colleagues across the Province, so we thought it would be a good time to provide an update on our work so far.

Since the Institutional Development Committee’s Institutional Issues Forum held on October 22nd, 2015, the working group has been busy drafting a proposed Provincial Acquisition Strategy for Ontario, learning from the experiences of our colleagues in Nova Scotia who have been pioneers in this area, and considering the components of an associated toolkit that will ensure a successful implementation of the Strategy.

At this stage, we feel it is important to share as widely as possible the background, vision and next steps we foresee as we seek to gather ideas and feedback from the archival community in Ontario.

The Background

The drive to create a Provincial Acquisition Strategy for Ontario in part flows out of the 2014 Canadian Archives Summit, with its calls for increased collaboration between archival institutions and the sharing of information to strengthen partnerships in the archival community.  Long before the Summit, however, the Canadian Council of Archives promoted the development of acquisition strategies at both the national and the provincial levels as “an important tool in planning for the systematic identification and preservation of our national archival heritage” (“Guidelines for Developing an Acquisition Policy”,1990). To date, Nova Scotia is the only province to implement such a strategy.

In a presentation at the AAO’s 2015 Annual Conference, the benefits of a Provincial Acquisition Strategy were discussed among community members. Positive feedback led the Institutional Development Committee to organize the Institutional Issues Forum in October 2015, at which a working group was tasked with developing the Strategy for adoption at the AAO’s 2016 Annual Conference. 

The Vision

The purpose of the Provincial Acquisition Strategy will be both to clarify institutional collecting mandates relating to archives’ legal obligations and to lay down principles to help guide Ontario archives’ wider acquisition activities. It was generally agreed upon by all members of the working group, however, that the Strategy should be tied to a broader vision for Ontario’s archives. The value of Ontario’s Provincial Strategy will be enhanced through tools to assist with its implementation and dissemination. Once adopted, the Strategy will not only foster a collaborative approach that best enables the Ontario archives community to preserve significant records in the most appropriate repository, it will also provide the basis for an ongoing discussion among Ontario archives interested in the documentary heritage of the province as a whole. The Strategy will strengthen the archival profession by providing it with a common purpose and move it towards adopting a documentation strategy to fill in gaps in the province’s collective holdings, resulting in a collaborative archival network that reflects Ontario’s regions and people in all of their diversity.

Looking Forward

The working group sees widespread consultation as vital to the project’s success. The group has identified key stakeholders to be consulted while the Strategy is in development, including the Council of Nova Scotia Archives (whose strategy serves as a model), AAO Chapters and Special Interest Groups, institutional members and individual members of the Ontario archival community at large. In addition, the working group will be reporting regularly on its progress to the IDC and to the AAO Board of Directors.   The collective feedback of the community will provide the Strategy with strength and vitality.

Suggestions, ideas and comments are welcome anytime, but more active solicitation of feedback will begin early in the New Year. A final draft of the Provincial Acquisition Strategy will be distributed to all AAO institutional members and made available on the AAO website for final comment several weeks in advance of the Annual General Meeting in May 2016, where a motion for its approval will be put forward.

Meanwhile, if you have any questions or comments for the working group please feel free to direct them to Sean Smith offline at sean.smith2@ontario.ca

Here are some questions you might consider to get started:

  • Does your institution have an acquisitions policy and/or legislation that defines what it collects?
  • How would a Provincial Acquisition Strategy benefit your institution?
  • What would help your institution to implement it?



Aaron Hope

Member of the IDC Provincial Acquisition Strategy working group

Address: 411 Richmond Street East, Suite 200, Toronto, ON M5A 3S5

Phone: 647-343-3334 | Email: aao@aao-archivists.ca


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