Changes to the Public Archives Act introduced today, April 20, will help the institution better connect with Nova Scotians. The new act will reflect changes in responsibility for government records management, clarify the mandate of the archives and strengthen the Board of Trustees.
“An effective public archives can play a key role in helping Nova Scotians to better understand our history, culture and development,” said Tony Ince, Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage. “The Public Archives of Nova Scotia has made great strides in making their collection relevant and accessible, and these changes reflect a more modern and engaged public institution.”
The Public Archives Act currently includes responsibility for government records management, although this function was transferred to the Chief Information Office (now part of the Department of Internal Services) in 2009. The Government Records Act was reviewed at the same time as the Public Archives Act, and government records responsibilities and accountabilities will now move to a revised Government Records Act.
The Public Archives mandate is being clarified in the legislation to reflect current archival practices, to ensure continuing public access to the collection for study and interpretation and to strengthen the institution’s work in digitizing and bringing the collection online.
The Board of Trustees’ current name will change to better reflect its role in advising the provincial archivist. It will now be known as the Advisory Board of the Public Archives.
Instructions about the composition of the board are being moved from the legislation to regulations and will ensure that a diverse group of those most interested and engaged in the work of the archives has a voice in its direction. Future appointees to the board will represent provincial organizations (archival, heritage, information management and family history) and related stakeholder communities (academic, library, cultural and general research).
The proposed amendments will also improve governance and accountability by clarifying and placing responsibility for the financial management and use of gifts, bequests and trust funds with the provincial archivist’s position. Additional changes to board governance will update members’ terms of office.