Original Paper

Archival Science

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 253-276

First online:

The trust continuum in the information age: a Canadian perspective

  • Dara M. PriceAffiliated withLibrary and Archives Canada Email author 
  • , Johanna J. SmithAffiliated withLibrary and Archives Canada

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This paper examines the role of trust in the information continuum. It argues that in the context of Canadian federal government records, an analogous ‘trust continuum’ is a useful model for analysing the relationships that exist between creator, archives and user in the information-abundant environment. The paper borrows from sociological theory to posit that creator, archives and user are bound together in a complex expert system that facilitates trust and mitigates risk in a broad societal context and contends that these interactions are shaped at the macro level by a dominant public discourse of accountability. These points are illustrated through three recent examples at Library and Archives Canada. First, the relationship between Canadian society and the archives is explored by interrogating the concept of relevance and assessing the feasibility of managing a pan-Canadian collection via a national network of knowledge institutions. Then, the role of trust between the archives and the creator in the management of government digital information resources is examined in light of the recently issued Directive on Recordkeeping, and in the context of LAC’s Trusted Digital Repository. Finally, Commissions of Inquiry—and the Indian Specific Claims Commission in particular—demonstrate both the power of archival records in repairing trust between a society and its government and the iterative nature of the relationship between the user and the archives.


Trust Accountability Commissions of inquiry Trusted digital repository Recordkeeping Continuum