Bibliographic Society of Canada letter regarding cuts to LAC/BAC

Dated August 7, 2012, signed by the Bib Society of Canada’s President, Janet Friskney, this letter is articulate and makes a lot of wise points, including:

-“LAC/BAC falls within the purview of all Members of Parliament, and not solely that of the Minister of Canadian Heritage… Indeed, Members of Parliament would be falling short of their fiduciary obligations were they not to scrutinize the implications of recent and planned budget cuts at LAC/BAC. Until Members of Parliament have had an informed debate about how budget cuts will be managed so as not to undermine the collection and preservation of, and access to, our national documentary heritage, Parliament is not performing as it should.”

-“A prominent and obvious example of the failure to meet obligations resides in the decision to abolish LAC/BAC’s interlibrary loan service in 2013. Interlibrary loan is a fundamental method of providing Canadians throughout this vast country with access to significant portions of their documentary heritage, without regard to their physical location or their economic circumstances. The decision to eliminate the service is shocking and, indeed, incomprehensible to those of us who are committed to the ideal of democratic access.”

“Staff at LAC /BAC is to be reduced by 20 per cent, a cut that will leave important collections of private papers – such as those related to Canada’s literary, musical, Aboriginal or multicultural heritage – bereft of dedicated archivists. As a result, even when researchers make an appointment, the level of expertise they can expect from LAC/BAC staff will be reduced. Reduction in the number of archivists and archival assistants will also inhibit the speed at which collections are processed for public use, and the rigour with which preservation practices are applied to them.”

-“On LAC/BAC’s website and elsewhere, the institution’s officials have rebutted stakeholders’ concerns about access and preservation with assurances that the institution is embracing a new model of service that emphasizes online delivery of services and digital access to holdings. Canadians experienced in working in libraries and archives are not reassured. Indeed, these assurances are worrying since they suggest a lack of basic knowledge on the part of the highest officials assigned to preserve and provide access to our documentary heritage.”

And so on. to read the letter yourself, see http://www.bsc-sbc.ca/en/letter.pdf

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