Access to Holdings Grant – Priority 7.2

For the 2018-2019 fiscal year, the Access to Holdings grant includes a digital initiatives stream.  We have not offered this stream in the past, so we are really interested to see what types of applications we receive. The grant parameters include projects that improve the capacity of our institutions to acquire, preserve and make accessible e-records. For example, the grant funds projects such as purchasing hardware/software or hiring someone to develop policies and procedures for digital preservation. The grant can also be used for arranging and describing e-records. Many of our members have mentioned that support is needed in this area of archival work. As this stream of grants is new for ASA, it will be a trial to see what the needs are in the community. This pilot will also help us refine the application for future years.

The ASA recommends that your institution has a plan in place for managing e-records in your archives prior to attempting to process these types of records. The elements an institution should think about to prepare for digital archives include the following:

  1. Resources

Does your institution have staff with skills to manage e-records? If not, you could consider investing in some professional development. ASA Education and Travel grants can be a financial help so staff can take courses. For this grant, your project could include research days to explore online options related to managing e-records in an archives (see links below).

What money is required to preserve and manage e-records? Can your institution invest in it? Do you have servers on which to store your e-records? Is there backup and virus protection? Do you have software for processing and for digital preservation?

  1. A Plan

A plan is essential for managing e-records. Your plan would include various elements in a policy and procedures encompassing the areas listed below.

How will your institution acquire e-records? Various methods to acquire records could be via email, ftp or on physical carries like USB drives and optical or floppy disks.  You could also visit a donor’s home or workplace and transfer records onto a work laptop or external hard drive. Once you receive records into your custody, how will you ingest them into your system? There are tools, including forensic tools, available for these processes. Your institution will need to decide what methods of acquisition both suits your needs and capabilities and maintains the integrity of the records that are acquired at the same time.

How will your e-records be stored? On a computer, server, or external hard drive? Back up and recovery plans should be added to your existing emergency and disaster recovery plans.

For example, at least one back up should be kept in an offsite location.

The plan should consider monitoring the e-records once in archival custody. This includes monitoring through checksums as well as maintaining security by controlling who has access to your digital storage.

Finally, how would researchers access e-records? Do you have database software that can provide access online? Or perhaps access can be provided onsite through a computer in the reference room.

Various procedures and institutional policy decisions for these different aspects would need to be worked through, for example a workflow and a metadata schema should be developed as well as preferred file formats chosen for preservation and access.

The Library of Congress has a guide on levels of Digital Preservation which may be a useful guide for what to include in your digital preservation plan. It helps you to analyze your current state and consider what steps can be implemented now and what can be a goal for your future state:

  1. Management Buy In

Possibly the most difficult component of managing e-records is having those you report to agree to investing in e-records. After drafting a plan, you could create a business case for management to accept and support your proposal for managing and preserving e-records.

List of Resources

A comprehensive list exists on the newly revamped Archivist’s Toolkit by AABC:

Online Tutorial:

Digital Preservation Management: Implementing Short-term Strategies for Long-term Problems

Digital Preservation Handbook


Brown, Adrian Practical Digital Preservation: A how-to guide for organizations of any size

Software:       Archives Canada Digital Preservation Service


Access to Holdings applications – section A3 and how do we get participation points?

It is grant writing season for archival institutions, so over the next couple of months, this blog will be dedicated to providing tips on how to prepare a strong application. Remember that I am available to answer any grant writing questions you may have, as well as to proof read a draft of your application.

Section A3 of the Access to Holdings applications could gain you 5 extra points out of 100. To see the guide that the grants committee uses to score the applications, visit this link: As participation is only 5% of your score, it could boost your application score amongst the others so that you get the grant!

In order to achieve full marks, the committee is looking for 3 or more items that you have participated in at the ASA. Participation could include the following:

  • submitting an image for the Archives Week calendar
  • joining a committee or the ASA Board of Directors
  • hosting an Archives Week event at your institution
  • attending ASA’s AGM and/or Institutional Forum
  • writing a column for ASA’s Newsletter or a submission for ASA’s blog
  • attending the ASA conference or an ASA workshop
  • teaching at a workshop, the Institute or presenting at the conference
  • being a session moderator at the conference
  • providing ASA with a venue for meetings/workshops, etc.

The committee is looking at recent ASA participation, so any participation older than 3 years does not count for your marks.

In addition to gaining extra points on your grant application, participating at the ASA is a great way to gain experience in new areas, give back to the archival community and it looks great on your curriculum vita. If you would like more information on how to get involved or about the Access to Holdings program, please contact me at




Fonds d’Archives, No. 1


Fonds d’Archives is an online, open access, scholarly journal published by the Archives Society of Alberta. The journal is devoted to the archives profession and explores all aspects of archival practice, including but not limited to appraisal, arrangement, description, access, outreach and preservation. Fonds d’Archives is particularly focused on archival issues from practical, working-level perspectives or theoretical explorations with demonstrated praxis.

The Archives Society of Alberta is pleased to announce that the first issue of Fonds d’Archives is now online. To view the current issue or for more information about submissions, please visit the Fonds d’Archives website.

Information Access and Protection of Privacy for Archives Workshop

Instructors: Jim Franks and Rick Klumpenhouwer

Date: Friday, September 15, 2017; 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Location: Glenbow Boardroom, 130 9 Ave SE, Calgary

Cost: $150 for ASA members; $175 for non-members

Course description:

The workshop covers key aspects of collection, use and disclosure of personal information by public and private sector archives.

We discuss specific provisions of the Alberta Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP) and the Alberta Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) that specifically relate to archival practices including history and scope of the laws collection, use and disclosure of information in an archives for research and related purposes.

Topics regarding “duty to document,” managing privacy in an archives and formal requests for access to information is covered.

To register or for more information, please visit our website. Registration closes September 1.

South Peace Regional Archives – Canada Day event

This year, as part of the History of the Peace Country in 150 Objects, the South Peace Regional Archives (SPRA) is creating a new exhibit featuring 10 objects that tell the story of the South Peace Region. Those objects take us on a journey whose documentary starting point is the days of the fur trade. As white traders moved into Canada to do business, their relationships with the long-existing indigenous communities led to the development of the new and distinctly Canadian community of the Métis.  From there, we see how the federal government moved to develop the “new country” and we meet the people who answer the call, first to migration, then to war.

From there, we get a glimpse of the growing communities in the region and experience vicariously how local, regional, national and international events intersected in peoples’ day-to-day lives.  Yet again, we bear sad witness as a new group of local men and women go to war.

Finally, the past catches up to the present as we meet the teachers and youth who built on the hard labour of their forbearers to make the region and the country what it is today. What we learn from this journey through time is that the history of the South Peace region mirrors the history of Canada.

Please join us on Canada Day when we will explore the lives of the people reflected in these documents.


Audiovisual Preservation Survey and Assessment Report

Wire recording

Wire recording (Photo courtesy of Deborah Tabah)

The ASA is pleased to announce the completion of the Audiovisual Survey and Assessment project by Deborah Tabah, generously funded through a grant by Library and Archives Canada. A survey was carried out across forty-four ASA Institutional Member archives.

View the Audiovisual Preservation Survey and Assessment Report here!



Tagged , ,

Wrapping Up the Flood Advisory Programme

The Flood Advisory Programme launched in September 2014 when the Lead Team, consisting of the Lead Conservator, Emily Turgeon-Brunet, and the Lead Archivist, Amanda Oliver, began their site assessments across the province. In response to the site assessments, the Lead Team began developing custom work plans for all of ASA’s institutional members to assist with flood remediation, disaster preparedness, and preventive conservation.

The program started out as an idea that came to fruition all because of the Flood Advisory Committee, consisting of Rene Georgopalis, Leslie Latta, Alison Freake, and Michael Gourlie. Alberta Culture and Tourism provided funding to the Flood Advisory Committee to develop a 2.5 year program that would assist Alberta’s archives after the June 2013 floods.

The program evolved from site assessments and custom work plans to include hiring on-site contractors, offering professional development opportunities, speaking at conferences, and creating education resources. A couple of examples are the instructional how-to videos available on the ASA website, and the Disaster Preparedness Workshop that was offered in September 2016.

The Flood Advisory Programme has left forty-one ASA institutional members better prepared for future emergencies and disasters. The end of March 2017 marks the end of the Flood Advisory Programme, though the educational resources will remain accessible through its webpage.

This will also be the final blog post by the Lead Team.

Thank you for all of your support!

The Lead Team Logo


Tagged , , ,

Launch of the Loan Program

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 12.36.05 PM.png

Photo credit: Emily Turgeon-Brunet

The Flood Advisory Programme has just launched the much-anticipated Loan Program. The Loan Program is a project that was developed by the Lead Team consisting of environmental monitors, photographic documentation supplies, reference books, a wet-dry HEPA vacuum, a high-resolution scanner, and encapsulation equipment. The supplies are available to all ASA institutional members in good standing to borrow for free. Items are available for pick up at one of two locations: Provincial Archives of Alberta and Milo Library Archives. The items must be requested through the ASA Executive Director and a full list of items and guidelines for accessing this program can be found on the ASA website.



The Lead Team Logo

Tagged , , , , ,

How to Write a (Basic) Condition Report

Most often conservators, preservation specialists, collection managers, and art couriers are the staff members who write condition reports for collection materials. The practice of writing a condition report is valuable because it collects information on the state of an item at a certain time, which provides a reference for future degradation or damage. Some condition reports are more extensive than others, though it is useful to have a basic condition report on file for items that are frequently circulated.

Many staff members in the heritage field write short reports on the appearance and condition of objects to record in the database. This may be done upon acquisition, prior to exhibition or loan, or when preparing an item for the vault.

What information is needed on the item to write a basic condition report (for a paper item)?





Date of Execution

Dimensions (cm)

Media (ink, graphite, etc)



Formation (smooth or rough)



Surface (matte or glossy)






Handling Dents/Creases







Overall Staining

Local Staining




It is also recommended to take photographs of the items at the time that they are assessed, as additional proof of their condition. Photographs should be taken with a DSLR camera and under good lighting. Use a colour target placed next to the item to provide a colour reference that ensures the colouration and brightness of the photograph is acceptable. This colour target can be used to colour correct the digital file using a Photoshop program if needed.

The Lead Team Logo

Tagged , , , ,

What’s In the Mud?

During the June 2013 flooding of the High River region, the Museum of the Highwood’s archival collection was immersed in water for eleven days. After eleven days the archival collection was salvaged and moved into freezers for two years, prior to undergoing conservation treatment through the Flood Advisory Programme. The items underwent conservation treatment, which was performed by Emily Turgeon-Brunet, Lisa Isley, and Jayme Vallieres. The archival collection had been covered in frost, mud, and mould and required cleaning, stabilization, and rehousing.

Since the entire region of High River had been underwater, it left a lot of questions about what exactly the conservators had been cleaning off of the archival collection. What was in the mud?

A sample of High River mud that was removed from the flood damaged collection material was sent to Emeritus Professor of Chemistry, Dr. Herbert Gus Shurvell, at Queen’s University Department of Art Conservation to undergo FTIR and XRF testing.


Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy is most commonly used to collect information on surface properties and functional groups present in organic and polymeric substances. Dr. Shurvell provided a spectrum that compares the mud sample and the references natural sienna and terra cotta.

Screen Shot 2017-01-11 at 1.14.15 PM.png

FTIR Spectra, Credit: Dr. Herbert Shurvell


X-Ray Fluorescence Analysis is used to collect information on the elemental composition, and provide the relative concentration of elements in comparison to one another.


The FTIR spectra showed peaks typical for the presence of silica-alumina clays. The XRF results showed the strong presence of iron and calcium, with addition to silicon, potassium, titanium, manganese, zinc, rubidium, strontium, and zirconium. Some of these are toxic when encountered at high concentrations, though they are all found naturally in rocks and soil. Radioactive isotopes of some these elements are found naturally in nature, while others are the byproducts of industrial processes.

The Lead Team Logo

Tagged , , , , , ,