Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Alarming reduction in LAC accessions

Is LAC planning on going out of business? With the massive budget cuts resulting in layoffs this year you wonder.

Now it appears that this year's reduction is part of a longer term trend. Here's how we know.

Last June the MP for Vancouver Quadra, Joyce Murray, requested information on Library and Archives Canada's record on annual accessions since 2000. That request was answered this month and the picture is not pretty.

Total accessions of governmental material to 2009, the last year Ian Wilson was Librarian and Archivist, averaged 667 registrations annually. Since then there has been s a drop to 394 registrations.

Even more dramatic is the picture for accessions of private material; plummeting from an average of 358 registrations annually under Wilson to just 126 since.

Of particular note are the figures for electronic information. Under Wilson these had gradually grown so that between 2005 and 2009 the average was 1231 items. Now, despite talk about shifting from hardcopy to electronic, accessions decreased to average 1060 items.

The first object stated under the Library and Archives Canada Act, which the Librarian and Archivist is charged with attaining, is to acquire and preserve the documentary heritage. Is less of such material is being produced? There's no evidence to support that idea. Is LAC relying on other organizations to do that work?  It seems like it -- but the legislation does not read that LAC should watch others "acquire and preserve." One can only conclude that LAC is failing to live up to its mandate.

Thanks to WJM for passing along the information.

1 comment:

turner said...

A close chum whose family history in Canada goes back to 1805, and who has donated a lot of items to LAC, including family letters, legal case documents, and even an oil painting, recently attempted to donate further family items. Compared to his previous experience, this time LAC made it so difficult for him to donate his items, requiring him to drive over to Gatineau and wait while the opinion of "an expert" as to whether LAC would be interested in his items was available, he finally decided "to heck with this!" LAC has many ways of reducing accessions. He was not faced with this nonsense the last time he donated. Cheers.