6624RE: Save Library and Archives Canada
- Nov 4, 2011
Thank you Laura for taking an investigative rather than knee-jerk approach. I would like to be on any committee that is struck. I can attend meetings through conference call.
I also do and have done research at LAC in a professional capacity. I have had and continue to have positive responses to information requests – some have gone above and beyond the call of duty. I have had responses to information requests that were not helpful – e.g. the first Stanford over from England was hired by Molson’s as a ship’s architect and overseer of their shipyards. I talked to the archivist at Molson’s to access any records that might be of interest to me. She said the archives have been sent to LAC so talk to them. I did and they said the files are not indexed due to lack of staff but if I wanted to come to their warehouse and look through their many boxes, I was welcome to do so. I declined! That was close to 20 years ago. Now more records have been indexed than ever before and actual images are online which had not been done before. The Molson archives are still among those in the backlog. Library and archives staff always have a backlog. It annoyed my boss so much once that he said I never want to hear the word backlog again and no you are not getting more staff to reduce the backlog.
I never said we would hear from LAC archivists and librarians about the sad state of affairs. I belong to several library and archives associations and what I said was these associations usually sound the alarm if anything is heard or experienced that affects any of our sister organizations in those circles. They are mainly dismissing the claims of CAUT or ignoring them – maybe that is one and the same.
I personally did PR work for/with the head librarian/archivist at LAC. One was a librarian and one was neither librarian or archivist. Both were wonderful to deal with. I agree the librarian (who is still there) was more familiar with processes and needs than the one who was not, but he was eager to learn. So at least one professional librarian is still there. I would have to do some investigation to see if there are still professional archivists on staff.
I have to run now but why are we not crying the alarm to save the Glenbow Library and Archives? They have taken serious hits in terms of the economy. The staff has been reduced to two people – the head and a librarian. You no longer get a person at the end of the telephone call. You leave a message and you are lucky to hear back in a reasonable time. There is no one who knows much about the Metis/First Nations collection. The displays are horrible. I took a visiting genealogy speaker from England to them a few years ago and I was embarrassed at how bad the collections were. They were much better many years ago. I called an archivist to ask about certain items I had donated to see where they were. He said he was the last person left and he had no idea and no time to check.
Just my 50 bucks worth for now.
I have taken Lois' email to heart. My initial response was that the CAUT was using this topic in a self-serving way. Perhaps they are, perhaps they are not, but I believe it's important to find out the truth and act accordingly.
The bulk of the work I do on a daily basis uses LAC files and resources. I work with many other researchers in the same situation. Because of connections to LAC, many of us have established relationships with individuals at LAC. I've contacted some of them to see if the CAUT position is accurate. I expect to hear back about this topic over the weekend.
Initial thoughts are as follows:
- staff reductions of actual archivists is accurate. The Department with whom I have a close working relationship now hires at least 3 archivists who left in the past 3 years due to what I will characterize as poor working conditions. I've heard these archivists were replaced by admin staff (not confirmed, just a rumour).
- The new Mikan system is terrible. In my own experience there are files which I know exist and which do not appear as results on the new search screen. As they're old files, I go back to using ArchiviaNet where I can find them.
- I gather (through a social network) that the changes made in the past few years have been imposed on archivists and they were not consulted about the new system.
- I’ve seen a few comments about how we would have heard from the people at LAC if all this was going on. I’m going to suggest that if people want to keep their jobs, we probably wouldn’t hear from them on the news. From what I gather through conversations with other researchers, archivists have been quietly complaining for the past 3 years. Suggestions were made to associates of mine that emails to the general lac address were (are?) ignored and that they should actually be addressed to the head of LAC, Librarian and Archivist of Canada, Dr. Daniel J. Caron. His biography can be found at, http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/lac/index-e.html. His background is in economics and he has been in the federal public service since 1982.
Is this a topic for which we might strike a committee? I don't really have any idea how it works, but I'd be very happy to participate because if it’s true I’m horrified. I would think that we first need to find out the truth. If this is all true, I'd like to think we could affect positive changes through our organization and sister organizations. I've no idea if that's at all realistic, but I am willing to try.
This morning, I looked at the LAC web site. The home page has a link to Modernization Within LAC - Find out more... Clicking on that takes you to LAC's mandate, as well as the framework now being worked on. This link will take you straight to the meat of it, http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/modernization/012004-900-e.html.
The Introduction indicates that consultations are on-going. At the bottom of the screen, a link to further information is provided. The page says, "Comments on these drafts are invited and consultations with key internal and external stakeholders will take place over the coming year as part of Library and Archives Canada's response to the changing environment." The page is not dated so I can't tell if this is already completed or is in progress.
Earlier today or last night, Joan provided a link to Anglo-Celtic connections. I've seen this blog before and John Reid has had references to LAC surveys on his site. As I work with many researchers, a couple of months ago, I disseminated that survey link to others in order to get some kind of voice. It's, www.laclistens.ca. The blog reference is, http://anglo-celtic-connections.blogspot.com/2011/08/lac-consultation-milestone.html.
I am not at all convinced it's the survey described on the blog because the survey is pretty tame but it’s the one the LAC rep gave me when I called to find out more about it.
I look forward to on-going discussions!
From: owner-dist-gen@... [mailto:owner-dist-gen@...] On Behalf Of Lois Sparling
Sent: November-03-11 10:57 PM
To: Charles W Aubin
Subject: Re: Save Library and Archives Canada
Since we live in the Reform/PC Heartland, perhaps we have a special
responsibility to find out whether these complaints are fair and, if so,
tell our MPs that we don't like this.
On 03/11/2011 9:15 PM, Charles W Aubin wrote:
> Here is an additional article by Rick Roberts
> Subject: Save Library and Archives Canada
>> Save Library & Archives Canada Movement Gaining Traction
>> Posted 03 November 2011
>> By Rick Roberts, Biography & Archived Articles
>> Library and Archives Canada (LAC) in Ottawa has been quietly removing
>> services, reducing staff and taking a "aggressive" approach with
>> those attempting to help it retain its budget. This according to
>> heritage groups, LAC employees, and indivual Canadians who are
>> becoming increasingly alarmed by what they see happening at our
>> national library and archives.
>> The 66,000 member Canadian Association of University Teachers is
>> ramping up its effort to bring this important issue to public
>> attention citing LAC management being "defensive, aggressive and
>> unhelpful" to Canadian Association of University Teachers' attempts
>> to retain funding for Library and Archives Canada.
>> Plans to reduce LAC's budget by at least an additional 12 million
>> dollars over the next three years guarantees continued cutbacks to
>> the collection and supporting services. This, on top of the current
>> government recently killing the long form census, sends a strong
>> signal that we are in a period of time when Canada's historical
>> record is in serious jeopardy.
>> The executive director of the Canadian Association of University
>> Teachers, James Turk is quoted extensively in an article in the
>> Ottawa Citizen today. It's well worth reading.
>> If you care about Canada's historical records, read up on this issue,
>> decide how you feel about it, and then call, write and email your MP
>> and let them know what you think.
>> a.. Save Library and Archives Canada Campaign
>> b.. CBC article: Historians campaign for Library and Archives Canada
- << Previous post in topic Next post in topic >>