Topics in Photographic Preservation 2011, Volume 14, Article 21 (pp. 139)

That was Then: Changes to the New Nitrate Film Preservation Facility for Library and Archives Canada

Janet Kepkiewicz and Lisa Hennessey

Presented at the 2011 PMG Winter Meeting in Ottawa

At the PMG Winter Meeting 2003 in San Juan Puerto Rico, Greg Hill, then Senior Conservator, Photographic Materials at the former National Archives of Canada, presented a talk on the impending new nitrate storage facility in Ottawa. The anticipated opening date of mid-2004 has come and gone. Various issues and factors, including subsequent insufficient funding, contributed to a delay in the building completion that necessitated a hold on the entire project.

In 2006, Library and Archives Canada prepared and presented a business case outlining the risks to the nitrate collection if the delay continued. Discussions between LAC and building consultants proceeded and produced a major shift from the original building plan; specifically a change in vault environment from -20 degree Celsius to +2 degree Celsius.

In August 2009, the contractor broke ground at Shirley’s Bay, near Ottawa, and Library and Archives Canada will move their collection into the Nitrate Film Preservation Facility in winter 2010. Major changes have occurred over the last seven years including a new architectural firm and a change to environmental vault set points. Various digitization and move preparation projects are well under way with continuing plans for 2011.

This presentation will examine the changes to the facility, the challenges faced, and will outline some of the collection projects undertaken to prepare for this important move.


Collection Manager

Library and Archives Canada


Project Coordinator

Library and Archives Canada

Papers presented in Topics in Photographic Preservation, Volume Fourteen have not undergone a formal process of peer review.