Saturday, 26 November 2011

Comments on LAC 2010-2011 Departmental Performance Report - IV

Library and Archives Canada's Program Activity 1.2: Managing the documentary heritage of interest to Canada is LAC's largest and central for family history. The records we seek have usually had to be continually stored and curated for many years, a cost that is often marginalized by neophyte clients.

Expenditures for this program activity of $48M compare with authorities of $68.3M, 30% less. Allowing for $11.8M reprofiled to 2011-12 for a delayed project that's still a 12% decrease.

12% is also the decease from the previous year expenditure, a larger decrease than the 9% for LAC overall.

Human resources employed for this program activity were 101% of those planned.

What did our tax dollars buy?

The expected result was "The management of our holdings are improved to
enhance long-term access and to better reflect the Canadian experience."

Under performance status LAC states it has mostly met the target in that it "Reduced intake of non-regulated published works. " Mostly met means it achieved 80-99% of target.

Had this target been in place in previous years it is doubtful if treasures of the LAC collection, such as the Topley photographs, portrait collection, Lowey collection, or the donation made by the Government of the UK on the occasion of the centennial in 1967 would now be in the collection - or if acquired would have meant that LAC would have fallen further short of this misguided target.

This direction being taken by LAC is a deliberate neglect of it's first mandate, to preserve the documentary heritage of Canada for the benefit of present and future generations. That mandate is NOT to preserve ONLY governmental information, or ONLY documentation collected under legal deposit.

In three years acquisitions from the private and political sector have decreased about 20%. Thankfully LAC's target was only "mostly met."

Even the existing collection is not safe. LAC states it "began to examine approaches for the systematic review of the relevance of our existing holdings." LAC seems ready to "de-accession" holdings by offering them to other organizations, and if there are no takers junking them. This could include substantial elements of the newspaper collection.

Will clients be consulted before such destruction of elements of the national collection, and Canada's documentary heritage, is decided?

There are several other performance indicators listed, to review them all would make this as impenetrable a summary as the original document. One does wonder how "Progress on a new Collection Storage Facility" could be classified as "Met all" when $11.8M was not spent in the year allocated!

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