27 February 2021

LAC Departmental Plan 2021-22

The Library and Archives Canada Departmental Plan, the official basis on which Parliament votes funds for the fiscal year starting 1 April, is now online at https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/about-us/report-plans-priorities/departmental-plan-2021-2022/Pages/departmental-plan-2021-2022.aspx#pg

For a quick overview the section Plans at a glance, immediately following the Minister's and Librarian and Archivist's opening messages, highlights that "LAC’s 2021–22 Departmental Plan is structured around two strategic priorities: the optimization of its digital capacity and the transformation of its services."

Following the link above I've several times encountered a pop-up asking for a response to a survey on a vision exercise for LAC to 2030. The exercize started in Spring 2020 and will only be completed in a year's time. Two years! 

Dynamic organizations have used COVID-19 as a stimulus to innovation. What innovation occurred at LAC? The organization appears to have withdrawn into its shell, making the necessary shut-downs of facilities without any compensating initiatives that would enhance online access, or contribute to the planning. Staff were still paid, how did management use that resource? We wait until the fall for a report on LAC's 2020-21 activities. In the meantime, what does the Departmental Plan promise for 2021-22?

Digit* occurs 55 times in the document, including once in the Minister's message, three times in the Librarian and Archivist's. Last year it was used 64 times in the document, three times in the Minister's preface, and eight in the Librarian and Archivist's.

What is the "optimization of its digital capacity" promised? It isn't any enhancement of digitization where the target for 2021-22 remains at 3.5 million images, the same as for 2019-20, down from 4.8 million in 2018-19 and 10.2 million in 2017-18.

All LAC's planned results for "providing access to documentary heritage" are less ambitious for 2021-22 than for 2019-20. Why? Is that what clients want?

Clients do want good access and that is in the plan.

With the user experience at the core of its website renewal, LAC will conduct tests and ensure that navigation is easy and intuitive, and that users quickly find the information and services they need. In the same vein, LAC will refine its Collection Search tool to help its users locate content. It will also focus on developing customized digital services.

That's good. Where is the results indicator? How will we know if it's achieved?

What else is in the plan? 

Continu* is mentioned 36 times. Innov* six times.

Geneal* is mentioned just once.

Once again this year there is no mention of newspapers.

There is no mention of directories.

There is no mention of the census even though the 2031 census is supposed to be released from Stats Can incarceration and made available to the public in 2023. One might expect LAC would be proactive so it would be available without undue delay.

There is no mention of finding aids.

And in case your life is lacking bureaucratic gobbledygook, howmuch more informed are you by:

Resources for testing new solutions will be allocated to the extent that LAC focuses its efforts on transforming its services and optimizing its digital capability.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for providing such a great start to the morning with that marvelous example of bureaucratese. As my husband said, if Dr. Doughty were alive today he would be rolling over in his grave. I am sure that in the days of Dr. Lamb and Dr. Smith that sort of statement would not have been allowed to get out of the building. And to return to the problems of Collection Search, LAC is aware of the problem and they have told us, "We are working actively to resolve these issues." What might be achieved if they were working inactively who can tell. But I do not think that even LAC will be able to release the 2031 census - perhaps 1931, though some day.
Elizabeth Vincent

Carole Linton MacFarquhar said...

Thanks for an interesting critique. As a retired librarian who has been co cerned about LAC issues in the past, I appreciate your frustration over this "plan". It does seem they have missed a golden opportunity of an unusually quiet year in terms of the public front. Perhaps staff were redeployed to more essential departments. (Elizabeth, good catch on the date typo ��.)