01 May 2012

Celebrating May Day?

The first of May is a traditional festival. I've never danced around the Maypole but have recently come close. Here's the story.

Not traditional, but a cause for mild celebration, is that 100 year old Google digitized back issues of the Ottawa Citizen resumed 1 May 1912. There are no digitized issues after November 1911 through the end of April 1912.

The 1 May issue is incomplete and significantly illegible. Here's an article from page 3 that day as shown by Google news. It would be nice to say I found it by searching but Google news search seems to have been deliberately hobbled. But then it is free for Canadian and many other papers!

It was a tease to read "English immigrants. Great Britain is unlucky to lose them." I wanted to read the whole article so set off in search of another source for that Ottawa Citizen copy.

No luck with the microfilm at the Ottawa City Archives or the Ottawa Public Library. Similarly the microfilm at Library and Archives Canada didn't include that page. So, last Wednesday I went to LAC and ordered up the hardcopy hoping it hadn't been de-accessioned yet.

There was no way of knowing whether LAC had found the issue. Feeding such information back to the client online is something LAC appears incapable of doing. No wonder they're incapable of leading a national newspapers digitization project like all their peer organizations internationally.

On Monday I went back to LAC, found a note that I had to go the the special consultation room to see the paper. Was I to see the article at last? NO, the wrong year had been delivered!

The staff I spoke to were profuse in their apologies. We checked; what was ordered was the issue for 1 May 1912. What arrived was for decades later!

Living in Ottawa means I only wasted a few hours. What if I had been from out of town, and needed to wait several more days because of LAC's mistake?

Mistakes happen. Apologies are nice, but its better when they don't have to be issued.

Perhaps leading me a merry dance is LAC's way of celebrating May Day.


Anonymous said...

You often have the LAC in your gun scope, as with this item. But let's be fair, they are not alone with poor public service and those in the private sector are not immune either. Case in point, findmypast. For the last 2-plus months I have been trying to view one image in a file of ten images. The cheery message I get is "The image you are requesting is currently unavailable. Please contact support or try again later." Numerous reports of the image fault to the technical staff, client support and even an email to the head of findmypast have resulted in nothing. Two months of complaining and still no satisfaction.

Anonymous said...

Recently I was told of a huge error made in copying a film for the daughter of an R.C.M.P. officer who served in the North. About $80 was paid to have a 1950's film copied. The CD had to be returned from Kingston as it had a few correct bits and mostly unrelated material on it. Those of us who take pride in our work find these errors hard to understand.