Tuesday, 4 March 2008

LAC Services Advisory Board Meets on Friday

On Monday, March 3, I received an email with some of the material for Friday's (March 7) meeting of the LAC Services Advisory Board. The record of decision for the last meeting included the agreement that LAC should "Put agenda and documents out publicly well in advance, (to) aid (the) consultation process in user communities." This was not done although I am told the material will be posted. Apparently insufficient time was allowed.

The major agenda items for Friday's LAC-SAC meeting are:

Report on 26 February LAC Public Consultations
New Hours of Service
LAC policy on filtering software on public Internet work stations
Impact on LAC of “ Who Do You Think You Are”
Service Improvements
Finding Aid digitization

Copied below is the text of the document summarizing the 26 February public consultation


LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA PUBLIC CONSULTATIONS
FEBRUARY 26, 2008 OTTAWA
WHAT WE HEARD

Two public consultation sessions on Library and Archives Canada (LAC) services were attended by 37 members of the public. Following are highlights from the sessions.
Doug Rimmer, LAC Assistant Deputy Minister (Programs & Services), noted that feedback from the consultation sessions and the Services Advisory Board (SAB) will be used to inform decisions on expanded service hours to be presented to the LAC Management Board later in March 2008.

Michelle Doucet, Director-General, Services Branch gave a presentation on Proposed Improvements to Service Hours.

Comments

-Support more evening access (suggest moving to even later hours, e.g., 9:00 pm)
-Question why LAC made changes to service hours last fall; what is goal of making changes and the consultation process?
-Need idea of actual timeline for implementing proposed hours of service changes
-Different hours proposed for different days could cause confusion
-Website does not tell users where materials are physically located and during which hours
-More hours outside of normal working hours
-Proposal to have first Saturday of every month as a full-service day
-Proposed return to 8:30 – 5:00 weekday service hours

Next Doug Rimmer and Michelle Doucet led a discussion on the other service issues most frequently raised by LAC users. Participants were asked to rate these issues. The results of this priorisation exercise were as follows:

Priorities for Action
-Digitise more finding aids to government records and provide better access to electronic databases
-Replace/maintain microfilm readers. Allow portable scanners
-Clients don’t know how to begin research, are physically lost in building (395 Wellington)
- Provide confirmation of on-site loan orders/other requests
- Provide capacity for off-site ordering of material

Other comments and issues raised during the consultation sessions included the following:

On consultations
-Very positive process
-Need more regular communications to ensure people are aware of any changes
-How was consultation process communicated?
-Increase the role for users to contribute more to the LAC
-Composition of SAB; appropriateness of approaching SAB members with issues and comments; role and mandate of the Board

On Resources/Support
-Need more electrical outlets in consultation rooms
-Is account registration being considered?
-Is there a list of databases on-line?
-Need to plan for seasonal variations and spikes in usage
-Need more digitization
-Accessibility and signage of directories
-Telephone services (menu choices, hours for accessing LAC personnel)
-Insufficient parking; onerous, non-user friendly security procedures
-Could not find Access to Information form on Website
-Equipment failures, magnification limitations
-Need for more finding aids
-Timeline for delivery of new equipment (before March 31)
-Hope SAB is not temporary (raise their profile to build support from users)
-Need for welcome desk in main lobby – provide direction and advice (orientation booklet, site plan, professional personnel)
-Need to update finding aids and databases; need to resolve problems with access codes
-Cannot have absolute quiet in consultation rooms - requirement for occasional quiet discussions
-Space limitations in area where Library orders are placed; improve space usage
-Should LAC continue to invest in equipment for reading microfilm given declining usage levels?
-Desire to have option of purchasing scanned copies instead of pages
-LAC Website has some out-of-date content/addresses that don’t work

On LAC Staff
-Proposed part-time staff on Saturdays (archivists-in-training, retired researchers)
-Knowledge levels of staff (reference desk personnel sometimes could not answer questions)
-Require more information on rules governing use of Consultation and Reference
services/resources
-Desire greater access to specialist researchers and librarians
-LAC’s reference service response is extremely valuable
-Seem to be fewer staff during current hours – recognize staff are over-worked and stressed
-Sometimes difficult to find the right specialist who has knowledge on specific topics

Written comments

Participants in the consultations handed in evaluations and other worksheets. The evaluations of both 26 February sessions gave them identical scores of 4.26, where 5 is stated as “Excellent” and 1 is stated as “Poor”. The most frequent positive comments on all the sheets concerned the re-instatement of some hours of service and the frank discussion at the meeting on a variety of topics. The most frequent criticisms on all sheets were that there should be even more hours of service, and a variety of service issues, with finding aids and poor orientation dominating. The most frequent additional comments were thanks for holding the consultations and compliments on services. The most frequent follow up requested was to see results/changes posted on the web.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My goodness, if this LAC crew can't get documents posted in time for a meeting, you wonder how they can run a public service program. These people have had weeks to prepare, they host meetings all the time, so they know what is involved, yet they fail to execute. Poor management!