02 June 2012

Ian Wilson expresses concerns on Library and Archives

National Archivist and Librarian Emeritus. Ian E Wilson presented the Richard J Houston Memorial Lecture to the opening plenary of the Ontario Genealogical Society Annual conference in Kingston, Ontario, on Friday evening.

In the bulk of his talk he reviewed the productive relationship between archivists, librarians and genealogists using illustrations from his long career, which started in Kingston.

At the end he turned to list cuts to archival programs stating that the business plan for LAC is far from clear at this point. What is clear is that the librarian, archivist, genealogist alliance based on mutual respect and shared commitments is more needed than ever before.

One thing we haven`t done well over the years is raising public awareness of the role of archives in society. The Department of Canadian Heritage does not understand LAC and the Minister is misinformed.

It`s time for a national discussion on library and archival services, knowledge services for the 21st century. We need an open and active discussion. We need some research on best practices elsewhere. We need to explore the possibilities of increased work with the private sector, and even a new business model.

The vision is very clear in the preamble to the Library and Archives Canada Act of 2004.

WHEREAS it is necessary that:
a. the documentary heritage of Canada be preserved for the benefit of present and future generations;
b. Canada be served by an institution that is a source of enduring knowledge accessible to all, contributing to the cultural, social and economic advancement of Canada as a free and democratic society;
b. that institution facilitate in Canada cooperation among the communities involved in the acquisition, preservation and diffusion of knowledge; and
d. that institution serve as the continuing memory of the government of Canada and its institutions;
I`ll be trying to find a link to the complete talk transcript.

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