Monday, 8 November 2010

LAC Performance Report 2009-2010

It's that time of year when Canadian government organizations report on their progress during the previous fiscal year. Exactly a year ago I blogged on Library and Archives Canada's performance report 2008-2009. The report for 2009-2010 is now at  http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/dpr-rmr/2009-2010/inst/BAL/BALtb-eng.asp#so_8503_04  and I could well comment on the inconsistency between these two reports. What's mentioned one year is ignored the next. The way financial figures are segmented is changed with no way to track changes from year to year.

This year's report is important as it reviews progress for each of the five Strategic Choice LAC set for itself between 2006 and 2010.
 
1. LAC will adjust all aspects of its activities to adapt to the needs and benefit from the opportunities of the digital information environment.
The evaluation was Somewhat met - 60 to 79 percent of the expected level of performance
 
2. LAC will increase the relevance of and accessibility to its collection and expertise for Canadians outside the National Capital Region (NCR).
Mostly met - 80 to 99 percent of the expected level of performance

3. 
LAC will focus its role in Government of Canada information management on the development of effective recordkeeping.
Met all - 100 percent of the expected level of performance
 
4. LAC will make systematic use of collaborative arrangements and will increasingly deliver on its mandate through or with others.
Somewhat met - 60 to 79 percent of the expected level of performance
 
5. LAC will ensure that client research and evaluation results are built into management decision making.
Somewhat met - 60 to 79 percent of the expected level of performance.

There's more in this report than would constitute a healthy meal. Let's focus on the effort to "increase the relevance of and accessibility to its collection and expertise for Canadians outside the National Capital Region (NCR)."
 
Judging by the figures quoted the Portrait Gallery has been achieving this since the development of a physical National Portrait Gallery was derailed. Kudos.
 
On the other hand the report admits that not as much progress has been made on digitization of materials and making them available online as was planned. The report states that:
  • Working in a new field means facing problems that no other institution has resolved.
  • Introducing new technologies and services that depend on technology has proven to be more complicated than anticipated.
Given the progress being made in digitization in other similar institutions I don't find these reasons persuasive. 

However, in addressing this strategic choice, and its organizational mission, LAC does not appear to be giving adequate consideration to secondary consumers. If LAC provides information to an author or researcher, even one who chooses to visit 395 Wellington, who then uses that information to produce a book, film or television program isn't the end result LAC doing more to meet its mandate to make knowledge accessible to a greater degree and more broadly than it could ever hope to do on its own? 
 
By marginalizing secondary impact LAC is underestimating how well it is meeting its mission.

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