Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Library and Archives Canada Departmental Plan 2018-19

Tabling of the 2018-19 Estimates for the Government of Canada, including Departmental Plans, was delayed from previous years, until Monday 16 April.

Here's the bottom line for LAC. Spending drops in 2018-19 from the previous year, still above the 2016-17 level, then increases with the start on the new archival facility in Gatineau.
As a client and genealogist I'll focus here on the Providing Access to Documentary Heritage component of the plan. That's not to downplay the vital "behind the curtains" parts of the mandate that are essential if there is to be something to access now and for the future.
Librarian and Archivist Guy Berthaiume's opening message highlights:
"First, for client service and access to our collection, we are implementing an agreement with the Online Computer Library Centre (OCLC) co-operative to create a new union catalogue that will provide Canadians with easier access to the resources of hundreds of the country’s libraries. The digitizing of some 640,000 Canadian Expeditionary Force records, which we expect to complete in 2018, will also increase access to our documentary heritage."
"To showcase our collection, we will move ahead with two major new projects to preserve and revitalize Indigenous languages and cultures. See Our History will digitize records in our collection relating to First Nations, Inuit and Métis, while Hear Our Voices will help Indigenous communities to record their oral histories."
To support its Indigenous languages and cultures initiative LAC receives a spending increase of $4.3 million.

Genealogy (genealogists) are mentioned three times; two are repeats with virtually the same wording.

Again this year there is no mention of newspapers or newspaper digitization. Considering the value of newspapers as an historical resource for all sectors of society this is a continuing blind spot in an otherwise admirable program. Why the neglect?

Something new. To increase online access to its collection "LAC will experiment with a crowdsourcing web platform where the public can transcribe and describe contents of the collection to make them findable and accessible." This follows the two crowdsourced transcription projects run in the last two years judged as successful. LAC introduced this capability, call Co-Lab, on Tuesday 17 April 2018.

This is part of the content of one of the two highlights boxes included. The other most welcome one is: "The “Dragon’s Den” activity in 2017–18 as part of Blueprint 2020 was a great success. LAC will repeat it in 2018–19, to take advantage of its employees’ creative skills and to use their ideas. Employees are invited to present innovative projects to the LAC’s “dragons.” Projects selected have resources allocated for their development ($25,000 per project)."

This table shows two of the performance benchmarks included which have a history, there are others with none. We will have to wait to see how the target compares with the achievement in the fiscal year just ended. I'd hoped for more ambitious targets.

There is no mention of the initiative of a co-located service facility with the Ottawa Public Library.

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