23 June 2016

A unique historic government fonds LAC refused

Every now and again I look at LAC's mandate and wonder. In case you don't have it memorized here it is:

  • to preserve the documentary heritage of Canada for the benefit of present and future generations;
  • to be a source of enduring knowledge accessible to all, contributing to the cultural, social and economic advancement of Canada as a free and democratic society;
  • to facilitate in Canada co-operation among communities involved in the acquisition, preservation and diffusion of knowledge;
  • to serve as the continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions.
Why, quite some time before the tenure of the present Librarian and Archivist, would several hundred volumes of correspondence, letterbooks, and journals related to Canadian history between 1828 and 1967, including almost 900 archival boxes (an estimated 1.6 million pages) containing all of a government agency records between 1840 and 1960 not be something LAC would see as its responsibility to have in its collection?

Perhaps because the records relate to a scientific endeavour, those of the weather service, officially the Meteorological Service of Canada, now part of Environment and Climate Change Canada. Perhaps LAC isn't comfortable with science? That's a shame. Science and engineering have records that are just as much part of our documentary heritage as the humanities -- music, photographs and the papers of politicians, writers and artists.

The University of Western Ontario to the rescue. Read about how that university acquired (on loan) the records and how they are being stored and used at www.historicalclimatology.com/blog/clio-and-climate-on-saving-and-researching-a-climate-history-archive. In truth they're probably more valued and being used as a basis for study at UWO than they would have been at LAC.


Lynne Willoughby said...

Getting rid of Scientific records is a good way to live in denial of the facts. So you limit the funds to agencies responsible for maintaining this trust and when they have to pick and choose the politically unpopular things get dumped. Makes no sense but neither do a lot of political decisions. We have only to look at. The Brexit vote to see that.

Allan Lewis said...

Thanks for this, John. LAC seems to be quite selective in regards to which records they will accept. It's not a good situation. I've had strong family researchers offer their life's work to LAC -- work involving thousands of families who settled in the Ottawa area starting in the 1820's, only to be turned down by LAC because their work supposedly did not conform to LAC's "standards". These are records which had already been carefully documented and digitized by the contributors so would have entailed little overhead for LAC to maintain them. Go figger. Some of these researchers are now contributing their work to my digital web site at www.bytown.net, also on facebook at www.facebook.com/bytownorbust. ... Allan Lewis, Ottawa, Canada