08 November 2012

Reaction to LAC Ending Interlibrary Loan

CBC News is running a story Library and archives interlibrary loans soon eliminated which includes reaction and comment on LAC terminating ILL service.

Shirley Sturdevant, president of the Ontario Genealogical Society reacts that key information only available at the national library would not be digitized in time and "People will have to drive, fly, take trains, hire researchers in the Ottawa area to do that research for us."

Comments posted are:

As someone who works for Library and Archives Canada, I have say that it is disheartening to not only lose our ILL service but also to have to listen to LAC officials tell Canadians that they will somehow be better off at the end of all of these cuts. First, despite what LAC spokesman Marc Comeau states it is highly unlikely that LAC has digitized 25 million items. They may have 25 million e-resources available but they certainly didn't digitize those items themselves. Big difference. Second, even if LAC could go from 25 million digitized items to 60 million digitized items in 2 years (which they can't because they have just finished gutting the team responsible for digitizing those items) what kind of access are those items going to have. Are the bibliographic records going to magically appear in Amicus? As always, the devil is in the details. It's one thing to digitize items, it's another to provide proper access to those items. Anyone who attended CLA 2012 and had to sit through Daniel Caron's opening address is all too familiar with the con job that LAC is trying to pull on both its employees and on Canadians.


Over ten years ago, LAC catalogued its 200th reel of microfilm for newspapers. Newspaper on microfilm are the most-requested item because of LAC's unique collection. About 1 /100th of the newspapers in the collection have been digitized and these by companies who charge to view entire articles.

Britain, Australia, the U.S.A., Finland and New Zealand all have strong government-supported digitization projects for historic newspapers. Genealogical communities in Canada should be incensed about the lack of digital access to Canada's newspapers.

With cuts to important staff who oversaw digital projects and to specialist positions (such as the newspaper specialist), it appears apparent that Caron is cutting some deal with a company for access to LAC resources in exchange for digitization. At least that would be a step in some direction instead of the do-nothing attitude under Caron's "reign". And if you think this is only the Canadian government's fault, think again. Caron has been left in place to encourage the demise of Library and Archives Canada as both a library and an archives.

Also the article mentions that Library and Archives will hold a roundtable Thursday, 8 November, via teleconference to discuss the upcoming changes. It will only include library associations and the top institutional borrowers.


Anonymous said...

Shame no one commented on your post. I don't think many researchers realize what losing ILL means... no more long-distance access to: published family histories, church indexes or newspapers. Other archival microfilm reels like Aboriginal records are low on LAC's list to be digitized. And some of the digitization of reels on their website is so badly done.

Very sad there was no coordinated effort by genealogical societies like was done for the 1901 census. I guess everyone, including genealogists, figure that all they need is already online?

Anonymous said...

As more and more people become aware of this sad situation, then the backlash may then occur.