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6609RE: LAC

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  • Xenia Stanford
    Oct 29, 2011
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      This alarm bell was sounded for other collections and some turned out to be rumours too. That is what this is – a rumour or, worse, an attack/scare tactics. Every library and archives I know could use more funding. I used to be in the business myself (government, academic and corporate libraries and archives – then consultant to libraries/archives), so I know there are always institutions in jeopardy, but not LAC, which has been increasing holdings, indexing and digitizing records. They are reorganizing and have been for a number of years. I don’t think this means they are on the verge of collapse. In fact, I believe it is the opposite.

      The first bone of contention raised was that the person appointed to be National Librarian and Archivist is neither “a professional librarian or professional archivist” (i.e. a graduate of a recognized library or archivist-degree granting institution). As Penni Stewart in CAUT Bulletin, Vol 58, No 4, April 2011, in her piece “Harper Gov’t Puts Library & Archives Canada at Risk” points out the current person put in this position is an economist and has no professional librarians or archivists on his team. Even if true (not the part about his team, which I know is not true since I know some accredited librarians and archivists there), it is not a first. In my long days in this profession, I saw national librarians and archivists come and go. First they were separate. Then they were merged but that was before Harper took over. As separate entities they were headed often by non-librarians and non-archivists. The world did not come to an end. But who would care if you shouted from the rooftops that the “chief” of LAC was not of the two professions? (Also note there was never a problem at CAUT - Canadian Association of University Teachers - when they recognized the head as a former university teacher.) They really don’t care now, but by saying this and raising other irrational fears, they are a scaremonger.  Stating the actual institution is in danger of shutting down, thereby being a complete loss to the researchers, genealogists and others who have come to rely on LAC resources, increases the number of incensed/frightened people in more countries and created a monster out of the current government. That’s all it is: a scare tactic.


      In fact, the merger has been leaner and LAC has been able to do more as one entity. A little history is in order:

      1872 The Public Archives of Canada was established under the Department of Agriculture.

      1953 The National Library of Canada was created.

      1987 PAC became the National Archives of Canada.

      2004, May 21, a Governor in Council order created Library and Archives Canada (LAC) to combine the collections, services and personnel under one body. Canada was one of the first countries to do so. It is a step forward! The Prime Minister at the time was Paul Martin. So hardly Harper’s fault (I am not a conservative by the way!)


      LAC is not under the Privy Council. It reports to Parliament through the Minister of Heritage. LAC is not to be confused with the Library of Parliament, which is under Public Works and Government Services Canada and has its own chief librarian, who is also not a “professional librarian” – i.e. graduated from an accredited library school.


      I believe the merger made sense and less overhead has helped streamline the process. This has helped increase the numbers I stated above (more holdings, more indexing and more digitizing). Once the walls came down between the two, the focus has not been on:

      Who owns what collection? Is this a library or archives document? Do we have unnecessary duplication of items, processes and people?


      Sure maybe it means some things were thrown out and some people were reassigned. It doesn’t mean the total structure is tumbling down. To believe it is collapsing and it is all Harper’s fault helps CAUT get more people on board so it can look like CAUT is the rescuer and hero. Just read this headline and beginning of its Press Release:

      CAUT to launch national campaign to Save Library and Archives Canada: (Ottawa - October 28, 2011) On Wednesday, November 2, the Canadian Association of University Teachers will launch its national campaign: “Save Library and Archives Canada”.


      Oh yes, all by themselves they are going to save our national institution, which is not even in danger.


      How fitting they put this out in time for Halloween! They have created a scarecrow to frighten you and give CAUT recognition as national heroes. I for one am not scared LAC is in danger, but I am afraid of what CAUT is trying to achieve.



      From: owner-dist-gen@... [mailto:owner-dist-gen@...] On Behalf Of Laura A Kirbyson
      Sent: October-29-11 1:05 PM
      To: 'Rene Dussome'; 'Wayne Shepheard'; 'Joan Miller'; 'Dist-Gen'
      Subject: RE: LAC


      I agree with Wayne that caution is the way to go. LAC is the official repository for the Government of Canada, therefore all records from every Government department are accessioned to this repository. From my knowledge, LAC is run not by the party in power but by the Privy Council Office so I cannot envision any way that a government party could control the process. Perhaps the CAUT’s point is that the selection of non-government records is being impacted?


      Over the past few years I have heard many rumours about the restructuring of LAC but it has more to do with the change in its classification system (of which I am NOT a fan) and not with respect to its collection mandate.


      Rene, I’ll be very, very curious to learn what you find out (and have fun!!).


      Laura Kirbyson



      From: owner-dist-gen@... [mailto:owner-dist-gen@...] On Behalf Of Rene Dussome
      Sent: October-29-11 10:57 AM
      To: 'Wayne Shepheard'; 'Joan Miller'; 'Dist-Gen'
      Subject: RE: LAC


      Thanks Wayne for opening our eyes.


      It all sounded strange to me when I read it.


      I shall be at LAC next month so I will try to get their view (if possible).


      Rene Dussome


      From: owner-dist-gen@... [mailto:owner-dist-gen@...] On Behalf Of Wayne Shepheard
      Sent: October 29, 2011 10:38 AM
      To: Joan Miller; Dist-Gen
      Subject: Re: LAC


      This might require a bit more digging to find out whether there is a problem.  This seems to be a cause only of the CAUT which does not seem to like the Conservative government who they think has “worked at producing a cultural transformation” and worry that other “(f)unding cuts have decimated the social landscape.”  They are now complaining about a “modernization project began last spring with a mandate to review how collections are acquired and preserved.”  There may be a bit of unfounded hysteria here in their campaign and certainly a dislike of current politicians who are now in charge.  I am sure they are concerned about preserving materials from Canada’s history but we need to separate what is real here and what is in the imagination of groups who just don’t like conservative policies.


      Wayne Shepheard
      Editor, Chinook


      Sent: Saturday, October 29, 2011 9:14 AM

      Subject: LAC


      This will be interesting to follow.  I didn't realize Libraries and Archives Canada was having issues. (as posted in Dick Eastman's newsletter - http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2011/10/announcing-a-campaign-to-save-library-and-archives-canada.html


      Announcing a Campaign to Save Library and Archives Canada

      Listen with webReader

      The following brief announcement was written by the Canadian Association of University Teachers and published at http://www.caut.ca/pages.asp?page=1036:

      Canadian Association of University Teachers to launch national campaign to Save Library and Archives Canada

      (Ottawa, October 28, 2011) On Wednesday, November 2, the Canadian Association of University Teachers will launch its national campaign: “Save Library and Archives Canada”.

      The campaign will expose how major restructuring of Library and Archives Canada is undermining the institution responsible for preserving Canada’s history and heritage. “Library and Archives Canada is cutting services and acquisitions. Unless this is reversed, the damage to our country will be enormous,” said CAUT’s executive director James L. Turk.



      James Turk, Executive Director, Canadian Association of University Teachers
      Liam McGahern, President, Antiquarian Booksellers Association of Canada


      Announcement of National Campaign to “Save Library and Archives Canada”


      Charles-Lynch Press Conference Room, Centre Block, Parliament Hill


      Wednesday, Nov 2 at 11:


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