11 November 2012

Library and Archives Canada exhibitions

On Thursday the government tabled a reply in the Commons to a question from Scott Simms MP:

"With regard to Library and Archives Canada, what are the particulars of each use of the exhibition space on the main floor since January 1, 2006, including (i) the purpose, (ii) date, (iv) duration, (v) organization using the space?"

The response showed that LAC mounted an average of 5 exhibitions per year from 2006 to 2009. There were 712 exhibition days in the building in 2006, 1239 in 2007, 709 in 2008, 982 in 2009, then falling to 6 days in 2010 and 0 in 2011. Clearly the organization made a decision not to mount exhibitions in the building after 2009. The emphasis was shifted to travelling and outdoor exhibits.

The response also lists other events staged in the building, from book launches to workshops and conferences. For 2011 the response lists 1 workshop for 2 days and 43 other events of 4 hours each. Using 8 hour days that's 23.5 days.

But the list is far from complete and gives a false impression of the use of the facility. Not one genealogy event is listed in 2011 even though BIFHSGO and OGS Ottawa Branch held annual conferences using exhibition space. It's unclear whether the question meant to include use of other space on the first floor at 395 Wellington such as the auditorium and room 156. If so use would be significantly greater.

It's unfortunate that prime space at 395 Wellington in downtown Ottawa is not being well used. I support the decision to emphasize exhibits across Canada rather than in the building, but its gone too far. There should be one permanent exhibition of significant national documents and gems from the LAC collection, with some slow rotation of the items displayed.

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