24 January 2012

LAC service change

On Monday I received information from a usually reliable source that as of this week the rotating duty archivists will be on the reference desk for only 3 hours a day (11-2) and that as of April 1 they will be withdrawn entirely.
You'd think this change would make it harder for people to access the documentary heritage materials they need.  Not according to LAC's myth number 2 in a document copied below and on the LAC website, which rebuts the "myth" by pointing to more information online, improved finding aids, and online ordering.

As LAC has not seen fit to conduct any consultation with the user community on this change, let's help LAC out by doing a quick poll! this poll is now closed.

Myth Busters

  1. Because of modernization, there are fewer and fewer librarians and archivists working at LAC.
  2. Staffing levels for librarians and archivists at LAC have remained stable over the last several years. In fact, LAC is the biggest single employer of professional librarians and archivists in Canada. This means that any decisions made at LAC are informed by a high level of professional expertise.
    In addition, many of LAC’s senior executives and directors hold Master’s Degrees or PhDs in archival science, library sciences, or history.
  3. The changes being made at LAC make it harder for people to access the documentary heritage materials they need.
  4. Canadians are getting their information differently these days—less in person, and more online. As a result, LAC must change the way it provides certain services: putting more information online and cutting back on services that may not be used as much anymore. Ultimately, this will make it easier for more people to get more information.
    Researchers will also find it easier to locate information, through digitized finding aids, and improved services which allow them to register, order materials and prepare for an onsite visit in advance. Digitizing complete groupings also makes certain records more accessible, and protects fragile originals from frequent handling.
  5. LAC is trying to get rid of Canadian heritage items it has preserved for decades.
  6. LAC is not selling or destroying any heritage items. Rather, it is creating partnerships with trusted organizations such as other Canadian libraries and archives so that certain heritage items may be appraised collectively and, in some cases, transferred to where they will get the greatest use and visibility.
  7. LAC no longer provides comprehensive, one-stop shopping for library and archival documents and services.
  8. This kind of “total” library and archives has never existed in Canada, and with the digital age the idea is more impossible than ever. LAC is and has always been part of a large and dynamic network of libraries and archives, which is collectively responsible for the documentary heritage of Canada.
  9. Modernization is just a fancy way to say “cost cutting.”
  10. Like all departments of the Government of Canada, LAC is being called upon to do more with less. And like all federal departments, LAC is participating in the Deficit Reduction Action Plan (DRAP). However, modernization is not related to the DRAP and, in fact, was already in the works in 2009, well before the plan was announced. At the same time, modernization may mean that LAC spends less in some areas and more in others, depending on the evolving needs of Canadians.
  11. LAC is attempting to limit its mandate to purely legal responsibilities.
  12. LAC has two core programs: it manages the Legal Deposit of everything published in Canada and it stores government records. However, its enabling legislation mandates it to go further than these core programs, to also acquire and preserve what is valuable to Canadian society. Its mandate then has not changed, but the manner in which it is carried out will likely change as a result of modernization and the evolution of society and technology. More will be done in co-operation with Canada’s 800 plus archives and more than 2,000 libraries, as well as other organizations interested in the preservation of our heritage. This includes acquiring heritage items and preserving our digital record.
  13. Modernization is happening in a vacuum, without any consultation.
  14. Over the past three years, LAC has launched more consultations than ever in its recent history. These include national stakeholder consultations conducted by Daniel J. Caron, Deputy Head and Librarian and Archivist of Canada, as well as numerous stakeholder and academic forums. LAC also commissioned two external reports on the relationship between LAC and archives, libraries, and historical researchers.
    LAC is also setting up a framework to allow broader and more regular consultations to take place with clients, stakeholders, and the public at large.
  15. Everything before modernization is out of date.
  16. Because modernization responds to the digital age, the assumption is that modernization is only about digital. True, modernization will involve adapting to the times (which are increasingly digital), but “digital first” doesn’t mean “digital only.” And digitization of an item does not necessarily mean destroying the original. LAC is already a world leader in the field of analogue preservation: the new state-of-the-art nitrate film preservation facility is a good example. But the digital world gives LAC the opportunity to move beyond the limits of analogue, providing more open access and reaching a similar level of excellence in the digital realm.
    Canada’s efforts in the area of digital modernization are similar to those being carried out by libraries and archives throughout the world. For example, national documentary heritage institutions in Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands, to mention just a few, are engaged in a similar process.
  17. LAC is becoming no more than a giant warehouse for government records.
  18. LAC is tasked with being the memory of the Government of Canada, but it can no longer ingest the huge volume of material being produced, much of which has limited business value. As a result, LAC worked with the Treasury Board Secretariat and other federal departments to introduce the Directive on Recordkeeping, which makes it easier for individual departments to manage their information resources and records and to turn over to LAC only that which has enduring value.

1 comment:

Brian Glenn said...

Maybe they also need a PhD in customer service to balance the archivists? Many people like myself probably do find more information on the web now and use the online finding aids more but when I do need help I need a person.