10 June 2011

LAC care of the collection

With the wonderful resources of Library and Archives Canada almost at my doorstep I don't use them very much. I go to the building at 395 Wellington more for meetings than to do research.

On Wednesday I had the opportunity to visit so ordered a file online on Monday, received an email that it was available on Tuesday. The routine ordering of the archival file worked well.

The consultation room was buzzing but I easily found a space at a table, took out a file folder and started to review it. A few minutes passed and a security guard came by and closed the lid on the box containing the remaining folders. No big deal.

I finished the first folder and decided to remove the rest of them for convenient access. The reviewed files on one side, the rest on the other. I left the room briefly only to find on my return that they had all been replaced in the box, except the open open at the workspace and a sheet of instructions with a section underlined saying that removing more than one folder at a time is verboten.

I apologize to LAC for having placed Canada's heritage in harm's way. Undoubtedly the damage done to the papers by being laid flat for a couple of hours is significantly more than the damage in withdrawing and replacing the folders individually, naturally being careful to close the lid on the box each time.

With the financial pressures to which LAC is subject it is comforting to know that enforcement of details of care of the collection by uniformed guards is not being jeopardized compared to, say, trivialities like digitization of materials so that those boxes never have to be opened again.

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