13 March 2010

CHA on LAC direction

The Canadian Historical Association (CHA) have posted a commentary on new directions for
Library and Archives Canada. www.h-net.org/announce/show.cgi?ID=174610

The concerns expressed in the document are important. Some I have expressed during the time I served as a genealogist member of the seemingly now defunct LAC Services Advisory Board. As the document points out, the genealogical community benefits greatly from historians work with LAC, and other, original materials which are the basis of books, articles, TV and other digested materials. These provide the professionally-produce and, usually, peer-reviewed context for our family studies.

I do have a concern with the CHA document.

It states that "In an era of budget constraints, they would hope that senior administrators would ... make a strong case for adequate government support for what is demonstrably Canada's most important cultural institution."

Senior administrators have limited ability to make strong effective cases. The case needs to be made at the political, not the administrative level. CHA delegating the lobbying to senior LAC administrators is all too easy and likely all too ineffective a strategy. Lobbying at the political level is a burden for CHA leaders to assume.

There is a broader context. The CHA is not alone. Many other programs that support studies across the spectrum of academic investigation in Canada are being targeted by the proposed belt tightening following this government's economic action plan. The academic community as a whole would benefit from a co-ordinated political approach.

Thanks to Brenda Dougall Merriman CG for bringing the CHA commentary to my attention

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