30 May 2012

Five, and five more things you need to know before visiting LAC

The Library and Archives Canada blog have posted "The Top Five Things You Need to Know Before You Visit."  They are useful but not complete. Here they are with extra information. 

1. All researchers need a user card.

You can register for a user card in two ways, either in person at the registration desk or online by submitting the User Card Registration Form. Present your photo ID at the registration desk to retrieve your user card.

You must read and agree to the terms and conditions in the User Agreement before you can obtain the user card.

Online registration is strongly recommended. Try and avoid the time when the registration desks opens when there can be quite a line-up.

2. There is a difference between service hours and opening hours.

Our service points, including the registration desk, are only open during service hours when staff is on site and ready to help you. The building is accessible during opening hours, but staff is unavailable. These hours are posted on the Visit Us section of our website and in the building.

By service hours LAC means administrative services, retrieval of materials ordered and placing of orders. With the decrease in the number of experienced staff you will be fortunate to find someone available who understands about records in depth.

3. Order your research material in advance.
At least five business days before your visit, order up to ten items of archival material by using our online Request for Retrieval of Documents Form.
You may order up to five items of published materials the same way as above, or place your order by telephone by selecting option 8 in the automated menu.

With the limitation in the number of items that can be ordered in advance you might want to plan on making several trips. Don't expect to receive any confirmation before you arrive that the material has been retrieved. Don't be surprised to find when you arrive that the wrong material has been delivered and it will taken several days to retrieve the correct material. 

4. Book your reference appointment, if necessary.
We are applying a new approach to service delivery. This means that no appointment is necessary for basic orientation and genealogy services, which are available from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday to Friday. However, you must book an appointment if you need to consult our reference experts or genealogy specialists.

You may be fortunate to find there someone on staff knowledgeable about the records, but don't count on it.

5. Where to start your online search.
There are a variety of databases to choose from, so we encourage you to watch this 90-second video tutorial to help you determine “How to Begin your Search Online.”

Despite LAC's talk about digitization expect to find a very small proportion of records available online. If you are accustomed online available of historic commercial newspapers from other nations libraries and archives be aware that LAC isn't even in the game.

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