Saturday, 17 August 2013

Libraries, Archives, and Canada's Future

This will be of particular interest to genealogical and family history societies across Canada.

Stimulated by problems arising from actions, and inaction, at Library and Archives Canada, and a changing environment for archives and libraries generally, the Royal Society of Canada has convened an Expert Panel with mandate:

  • To investigate what services Canadians, including Aboriginal Canadians and new Canadians, are currently receiving from libraries and archives.
  • To explore what Canadian society expects of libraries and archives in the 21st century.
  • To identify the necessary changes in resources, structures, and competencies to ensure libraries and archives serve the Canadian public good in the 21st century.
  • To listen to and consult the multiple voices that contribute to community building and memory building.
  • To demonstrate how deeply the knowledge universe has been and will continue to be revolutionized by digital technology.
  • To conceptualize the integration of the physical and the digital in library and archive spaces.
The Panel is inviting comments on their blog and have scheduled consultations for: Yellowknife (Sept. 13-14); Vancouver (Sept. 19-21); Ottawa (Oct. 4); Winnipeg (Oct. 18-19); Calgary (Oct. 22-25); Montreal (Oct. 24); Edmonton (Oct. 28-29); Halifax (Nov. 8-9); Toronto (Jan. 15-17).
It's unclear how the consultation sessions will work. Some very short session are scheduled at the first stop in Yellowknife. I expect clarification next week. There is also the opportunity for written input.
Given the importance of archives and libraries for genealogy and family history, and with many small and not so small archives depend on volunteers from our community, the Expert Panel should hear from us, likely through the major societies we support to represent our interests. 
Those interested in the future of libraries might want to read a report Facing the Future (pdf) written by one of the panel members, Ken Roberts which in discussing interlibrary loan mentions:
"many of the requested items are from people conducting genealogical research and who seek cemetery records and newspaper birth announcements. People might gain better, and more immediate access if there were a focused effort to digitize such material. While initially more expensive, digitization may save ongoing Interlibrary loan costs. We don’t know because, to my knowledge, no studies exist."

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