Wednesday, 27 February 2008

LAC Consultation Summary - 26 Feb 2008

Despite adverse weather about 30 people, plus LAC staff, attended the afternoon consultation session on Tuesday 26 February. The session was led by LAC Assistant Deputy Minister Doug Rimmer, with Director General of Services Michelle Doucet assisted by consultant facilitator John Benesh.

After introductory remarks and a briefing on LAC, the first substantive item was a presentation and discussion on the proposed improvements to LAC services, building on email consultation with members of the Services Advisory Board.

1. Add one hour of fully staffed services weekdays
LAC response: the extra hours would be applied in the different services, as follows:

Reference Services and Canadian Genealogy Centre
Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Tuesday and Thursday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Consultation Services
Monday to Friday 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

2. Increase the range of activities in the consultation rooms outside regular hours (self-serve photocopying, etc.)
LAC response: will review and simplify approaches to rights management . A single researcher service agreement will soon replace separate forms for the use of digital camera, facilities, etc. Microfilm printer/scanner self-service will be available during all opening hours. Purchase of new printer/scanner equipment plus revised researcher agreement digital camera use will be permitted during self-service hours on Saturdays (six-month pilot project). Hiring of part-time staff for Saturdays (from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm) plus revised researcher agreement .

3. Improve access to research tools
LAC response: Will make research tools and more computer terminals available to users after service hours. Will increase the hours of access to the reference rooms, as follows:

Monday to Friday until 8:00 pm
Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

4. Improve service quality by reviewing the organization of work and internal procedures
LAC response: On-going public consultations will inform the design and implementation of a new LAC Services Strategy. Pursue the development of new public access systems (AMICAN), such as: pre-registration off-site ordering of material.

While participants generally saw these as improvements there was continuing concern about accessibility of consultation services to those not able to get to the building during regular business hours. One suggestion was to have a full service Saturday once a month.

The discussion broadened and there were many specific comments, some reflecting service that should be available but was not offered in the particular case.

The second major element of the afternoon was consideration and voting to identify priority within a list of issues previously raised by clients. They were:

1. Quicker and more accurate delivery of purchased reproductions and photocopies;
2. Quicker response to reference enquiries;
3. Quicker access to telephone service;
4. Provide confirmation of on-site loan orders/other requests;
5. "My boxes aren't here!"
(4 and 5 about were combined for voting)
6. Clients don't know how to begin research, are physically lost in the building;
7. Enforce quiet in the consultation rooms;
8. Digitize more finding aids to government records and provide better access to electronic databases;
9. Line-ups to consult both reference archivist and consultation staff;
10. Lack of access to specialist librarians and archivists;
11. Aside from Genealogy, all researchers share less space;
12. Replace/maintain microfilm readers. Allow portable scanners;
13. "I can't find it on your web site!";
14. Announce when new holdings available.

The comment was made that some are much more costly than others. Most should be pursued anyway as part of good management. I didn't count the votes but my impression is that 4/5, 8 and 12 attracted most support.

The meeting was quite amicable, although attendees weren't shy about expressing their concerns and frustrations. Michelle Doucet noted that management would be accountable for improvements promised.

An official meeting summary, including the evening session, will be posted on the LAC web site.

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