Sunday, 9 March 2014

Library and Archives Canada Report on Plans and Priorities 2014-15

The Library and Archives Canada 2014-2015 Report on Plans and Priorities has now been tabled in Parliament, along with those for many other departments and agencies.
It shows forecast spending of $98.7 million for 2013–2014, a reduction of $20 million from the previous year, falling further to $95.9 million in 2014–2015.

From 2014-15 LAC is estimating full time employee equivalents (FTE) of 858. That's down slightly from the estimate a year ago, and a long way below the 1,117 FTEs two years ago.

Each year I produce a Wordle showing the RPP's most used words. This year the prominent words are matter of fact and properly bureaucratic. Again the terms geneal* or newspaper are nowhere to be found. Phrases go in and out of fashion. "Whole-of-society" which appeared 14 times last year is gone; "whole-of-government" has appeared. The phrase "First World War" appears 9 times.

The thrust of LAC's ambition is summarized in the Minister's message:
In 2014–15, LAC will provide Canadians with easier access to its collection by significantly increasing the amount of material made available online. The organization will continue to proceed with the digitization of nearly 640,000 service records of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in order to contribute to the commemoration of the First World War. LAC will also acquire information resources that represent Canadian society, as well as preserve documentary heritage of national interest in both analogue and digital formats, particularly by completing the transfer (to Winnipeg) of analogue material relating to the Second World War. In addition, LAC will continue to partner with public and research libraries, museums and other institutions across Canada to bring the country's heritage closer to Canadians. LAC will also provide support and training to government departments on recordkeeping and information management.
The aspect of LAC operations of most interest to genealogists and like clients is now found under Program 2.3: Access to documentary heritage. It is explained as:
The purpose of providing access to documentary heritage is to make Canadian information resources known and accessible to anyone interested in Canada, its society or its experience. By providing access, LAC contributes to the creation of new knowledge that will increase the understanding of Canada's continuing memory.
$28.6 million and 237 FTEs are allocated to this program for the foreseeable future, to 2016-17.

Performance targets are as last year: for March 31, 2015, 75% client satisfaction with online services; 60% of clients who report being able to find what they are looking for online. As I commented last year, with less than 1% of LAC material online the latter seems like a hugely ambitious target. Will a way be found to interpret the wording to produce an acceptable performance?

Reading through the section we learn that LAC's website is among the most popular of all federal departments and agencies, with an average of 1.5 million visits per month. In addition, an average of 1.4 million searches per month are conducted of the AMICUS catalogue.

At the lowest level of dis-aggregation within this program the planned key activities for the year are:

  • Develop new online resources and update existing ones on the First World War (including databases, guides and digital content) so that participants in the Lest We Forget Project and other researchers have better access to information about the soldiers who fought in that war.
  • Develop new online resources and update existing ones on Aboriginal heritage (such as research assistance tools that provide historical and geographic information about the various bands or communities and about the treaties).
  • Add new databases and improve existing ones in order to increase the amount of searchable information having to do with the history of immigration and cultural communities in Canada.
  • Continue with the renewal of the National Union Catalogue, a free catalogue that provides access to the holdings of 1,300 libraries across Canada.
  • Continue to implement the content digitization strategy by focusing on the digitization of the most frequently requested documents.
  • Continue the digitization projects being carried out to digitize and post online over 60 million images.
  • Continue to share content on LAC's social network sites, namely through blogs, podcasts, Flickr, Facebook and Twitter, to reach a maximum number of clients and to make the collection available through a wide range of channels.
  • Develop new online resources and update existing ones on the First World War, Aboriginal heritage, and the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation.
This includes those for Program 2.3.2 which is mislabeled 2.3.1 in the document.

Overall, the document reflects a department getting on with business but without any real leadership evident, as can be expected for an organization which has been without a permanent head since mid-May.  

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