Preservation Initiatives

In recent years, CARL has played a key role in ensuring that questions pertaining to the preservation of Canada’s digital scholarly record, whether print or digital, is being discussed across memory institutions responsible for this work, and that collective efforts are undertaken whenever possible.

Coordinated Preservation of Print Copies

Canadian research libraries hold vast collections of research collections in print format constituting a vital national resource, which must be preserved for current and future generations of scholars.

In 2022, North: The Canadian Shared Print Network, a national shared print network that coordinates the activities of existing regional shared print initiatives and provides a path to participation for other interested libraries not yet in a shared print program, was launched. Sponsored by  national program provides a means to consolidate print collections while ensuring long-term content retention and access for users. All categories of print (monographs, serials, government documents) will be considered, and the primary focus will be on Canadian materials. North builds on the success of previous collaborative work in this area: in 2018, CARL and Library and Archives Canada (LAC) struck a Canadian Collective Print Preservation Strategy Working Group to design and implement a national strategy of collective print preservation and access which would provide libraries with a means to consolidate print collections while ensuring long-term content retention and access for users. This initiative is a direct result of CARL’s one-day open forum, @Risk North (Collections en péril), held in November 2017, on the topic of shared print preservation in Canada. @Risk North featured representatives from Canada’s national libraries and from Canada’s established shared print repositories discussing opportunities for further collective action in this area. Prior to this, in April 2011, the CARL Scholarly Communication Committee had published The Permanent Conservation of Print Collections in Canada: A Model for Consideration by the CARL Scholarly Communication Committee. CARL members also participated in LAC’s Permanent Conservation of Print Collections in Canada (Last Copies) initiative.

Related documents:

Final Report of the Canadian Collective Print Strategy Working Group (2020)

Digital Preservation

In 2016, CARL formed the Digital Preservation Working Group (DPWG), which brings together experts from various sectors involved in digital preservation (academic libraries and related regional associations, archives,, Bibliothèque et archives nationales du Québec). This group works towards the long-term stewardship of Canada’s digital scholarly record and multi-format documentary heritage, initially by studying the current capacity for digital preservation in Canada, and later by developing strategy and training opportunities. An off-shoot of the DPWG, the Canadian Web Archiving Coalition (CWAC), brings together people working throughout Canada towards preserving web-based content.

Government Information

Libraries, archives and other memory institutions ensure that government information—vital for historical research and informed policy-making—remains accessible for current and future generations of researchers. Yet the vast scale of the information that governments produce and collect today, together with the inherent fragility of digital media and the complexities and costs of digital stewardship, threaten the survival of key information resources.

Leviathan North

The Leviathan North: Long-term Access to Government Information in the Digital Era meeting, inspired by the Center for Research Libraries’ 2014 original Leviathan meeting held in Chicago in April 2014, convened a range of stakeholders in the long-term preservation and use of government information, providing a forum to explore the dimensions of the challenge and collaborative opportunities for the future. The meeting was jointly sponsored by CARL and the Center for Research Libraries Global Resources Network.

Final report on Leviathan North

Theses and Dissertations

CARL members collect and retain their students’ theses and dissertations in local institutional repositories, and then work with LAC to enable these works to be harvested or otherwise captured by LAC for a nationally-aggregated preservation and open access collection. Theses Canada is a collaborative program between Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and nearly 70 universities. Its collection contains both microfiche and electronic theses and dissertations.

Regional Initiatives

  • COPPUL Private LOCKSS Network of the Council of Pacific and Prairie University Libraries (COPPUL) utilizes the LOCKSS digital preservation system as a means to archive collections of local interest to members of COPPUL that are not being preserved through any other means. Digital materials such as small university press publications, open access journals, born digital government publications, and other electronic journal collections that are at risk of being lost are being preserved as part of the program.
  • Preservation Initiatives of the Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL) reflect the Council’s commitment to leveraging resources for the joint purchase of academic resources and to ensuring responsible stewardship of research collections. OCUL is committed to preserve Ontario academic collections, both print and digital.
  • Section des bibliothèques of the Bureau de coopération universitaire (BCI) works by pooling and sharing library, human and material resources so that Québec’s university libraries can plan and develop their collections and services with a view to optimizing their use by all members of the Québec university community.
  • The Digital Preservation and Stewardship Committee of the Council of Atlantic University Libraries (CAUL) helps to foster and advance digital preservation and stewardship amongst the members of CAUL.