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Public welcomed to get a glimpse of Canadian historical artifacts at Library and Archives open house

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Library and Archives Canada's new Preservation Storage Facility — the world's largest automated archival centre — will be open to the public this weekend.

The public is invited to explore the facility and observe the automated cranes in action via cameras placed in two of the six vaults this Friday and Saturday.

Opened in 2022, the storage facility is the first net-zero carbon archival facility in the Americas, storing documents for up to 500 years in six high-tech vaults with a space equivalent to eight-and-a-half Olympic-size swimming pools.

Staff members will provide demonstrations of document retrieval, offering a glimpse into the intricate processes involved in preserving Canada's documentary heritage.

Visitors can also tour the Preservation Centre, an architectural site in Gatineau that opened in 1997. It has 48 vaults for various historical records, with two kept below freezing for film storage, and access laboratories and vaults to uncover archival treasures.

"What's really unique is that we don't just have one history of Canada. We have many histories of Canada. Each person has had a different experience. They have a different story to tell in these collections reflect those stories," says Leslie Weir, Librarian and Archivist of Canada. "There is something for everyone. We have 425,000 works of art, and let's be honest, we don't go after the best known artists, we go after the artists who capture a moment; they capture a family by a campfire, they capture people in the fur trade that were going in a canoe up a river, they capture the arrival of some people coming to Canada, and they capture some of the First Nations people in their interactions with the colonial government."

Specialists from Library and Archives Canada (LAC) will also be on hand to discuss their work in preserving historical records.

"One of our top priorities is to invite Canadians to discover LAC collections and gain a better understanding of Canada's history," says Jasmine Bouchard, assistant deputy minister, user experience. "An event like the open house represents the pinnacle of our daily efforts to make the country's documentary heritage accessible to present and future generations."

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This event marks the first open house at the Preservation Centre since 2018 and coincides with the 20th anniversary of LAC, formed from the merger of the National Archives of Canada and the National Library of Canada. It also celebrates the completion of the collection's relocation to the new facility.

Library and Archives Canada's mandate is to acquire, preserve, and provide access to Canada's documentary heritage, supporting cultural, social, and economic development and also promote cooperation among knowledge preservation communities and serve as the continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions.

The Preservation Campus houses two buildings, the Preservation Centre and the Preservation Storage Facility, located at 625 du Carrefour Boulevard, in Gatineau. It will be open to people of all ages on Friday and Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free, and no reservation is required.  

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