31 May 2011

LAC attempts to change perception of its services

LAC made the unusual move of posting a response, dated 29 May, to a Canadian Association of University Teachers backgrounder for its "Campaign to Protect Library and Archives Canada." LAC stated that the backgrounder contained "several errors, misconceptions and misappropriations" and stating that unless the backgrounder is corrected it amounts to disinformation.

The headings in the LAC response are the following:
1. The backgrounder states that Dr. Daniel J. Caron is the first person to occupy the position of deputy head of Library of Archives Canada who is neither an archivist nor librarian.
2. The backgrounder states that LAC is now operating without a single qualified librarian and archivist in the upper levels of management.
3. The backgrounder states that public access to the services of librarians and archivists has been substantially reduced.
4. The backgrounder states that the quality of LAC’s holdings has been compromised by major cuts in the acquisition of both archival and published material.
5. The backgrounder implies that modernization is responsible for major cuts and compromises the collection. It also suggests that modernization contravenes LAC’s enabling legislation to acquire the full documentary heritage of Canada.
6. The backgrounder claims that holes created in the LAC collection based on the acquisitions moratorium will be impossible to fill retroactively.
7. The backgrounder states that LAC has announced that all its records would be digitized by 2017.
8. The backgrounder states that digitization will scatter and remove individual files from the important collection context in which they are materially located
9. The backgrounder states that digitization will make materials more inaccessible.
10. The backgrounder states that digitization decreases services for specialized research
11. The backgrounder states that digitization endangers Canada’s historical records in their material form – given that the long term accuracy and stability of digital records remains to be adequately tested.
12. The backgrounder raises the question of public-private partnerships, implying that LAC is considering privatizing the archives with numerous and potentially costly consequences.
13. The backgrounder states that regionalization will result in decentralization. It raises the fact that resources are lacking to support a more regional approach to distributing the documentary heritage of Canada and states that costs will increase for individual scholars.
14. The backgrounder states that LAC is not consulting with stakeholders, underscoring the dismissal of the Services Advisory Board.

The full text of the LAC response is here. I was unable to find an online version of the CAUT backgrounder.


CAUT has done a service in raising concerns to the point that LAC saw the need to make this response. 

LAC claim they will be putting in place a much more systematic and comprehensive approach to consulting clients, stakeholders and the public at large. That's a claim LAC management has been making for over a year. When will it become reality, and will it be in a form acceptable to clients?

LAC makes no mention of the newspaper collection where for several years there has been no LAC newspaper specialist, and Canada is falling ever further behind other countries in taking responsibility for digitizing its historic newspapers.

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