Write to Minister Moore!

From Lara Wilson, Chair, Canadian Council of Archives:

In light of Minister Moore’s comments reported by CBC Radio and Television yesterday, the Canadian Council of Archives (CCA) is asking that individual archivists, archival institutions and associations, our supporters in allied professions, and Canadians who love archives to contact/write the Minister of Canadian Heritage, voicing support for reinstatement of the National Archival Development Program (NADP).
For more information on NADP and the Canadian Council of Archives history of administration of the program, go to CCA’s “Call to Action” page:
En francais: http://www.cdncouncilarchives.ca/f-whnew_2009.html
In English :http://www.cdncouncilarchives.ca/action2012.html

Please send a copy of any written communication regarding this issue to CCA Executive Director Christina Nichols: cnichols@archivescanada.ca<mailto:cnichols@archivescanada.ca>

Thank you
Lara

Lara Wilson
Chair – Canadian Council of Archives
Tel: (250) 472-4480
Fax: (250 472-5808

CCA toll free number:  1-866-254-1403
http://www.cdncouncilarchives.ca

Notes from December 2012 Library Council re: Cuts to LAC and Canada’s National Information Infrastructure

Thanks to all who participated in the second half of library council last December. The subject of discussion was the cuts to LAC, NADP, Science, Statistics Canada, Federal Libraries etc… and the impact of these cuts on Canada’s information infrastructure. Here is a brief capsule of the discussions. Notes are also being distributed as part of January’s council package.

Group 1: Cuts to LAC

With respect to the National Library, there was a recommendation to read the English report presented to Sheila Copps 1998 which recommended the merger of the two autonomous organizations, the National Library and the National Archives into a single institution. The merger created an environment that made it easier for cuts to the amalgamated organization to happen. The report recommended however, that government records be kept separate from the collection so as not to overwhelm the new institution.

Some disturbing facts:

  • ILL service will be fully cut off before the new service (which is a process of digitization on demand) is offered; this won’t happen until end of 2014.
  • No new analog materials will be accepted by LAC as of 2015 despite the statutory obligation of legal deposit.
  • LAC has withdrawn from the international network of national libraries (but it was noted that BNQ is represented, so there is a Canadian presence).
  • No universities were consulted in the development of the Pan-Canadian Documentary Heritage Network (PCDHN) despite their having research collections of significant cultural value.
  • LAC’s consultative processes have not been effective; it has been consulting with the wrong stakeholders.
  • The Gatineau Preservation facility is empty and available for others to use.

Other comments:

  • There has been a suggestion from some members of CARL to recreate a conference similar to the one held in Montreal in 1968 (called “Libraries for Tomorrow” which had been organized by AUCC). The purpose would be to have an open dialogue with important stakeholders on the purpose and future of the LAC. But not all CARL members feel that there is a need for this discussion to take place.

In response to the question, “Is the LAC in danger of failing in its mandate because of these cuts?” The answer was Yes, Yes and Yes.

Group 2: Impact of cuts to NADP

The NADP program cost 1.7 million dollars, so clearly the cancellation of this program was not only about money; that amount just isn’t significant in the overall budget.

The cancellation of the program signals a change in the way that government views its role in the area of culture. It is a program of decentralization (evidenced by the creation of the PCDHN, and also possibly in the way that the Canadian Museum of History will be organized). Government just doesn’t see itself as in the “culture business.”

The group mentioned that Canadians should be urged to hold their government accountable to the goals of the PCDHN and make sure it fulfills its commitments under that program.

The most vulnerable groups to be affected by these cuts are archives with a less strong community engagement because now they will have to find funds for projects from their communities and possibly even partner with business.

Group 3: Campaigns against the cuts

This group felt that CLA had been passive in its engagement with LAC and its reaction to the cuts. There isn’t any information on the cuts on its website, or any real indication of what is happening.

Some of the smaller associations may not have all of the information they need to react effectively – they are not powerful or mobilized, and not having the information renders them even less so.

There was mention of CAUT’s Canada’s Past Matters and Save LAC campaigns. But it was felt that CAUT could be doing more to mobilize academics and faculty associations. A unified response to the cuts (more power in numbers!) would be more effective.

Student associations could be mobilized; their access to research will be compromised as well.

Group 4: Federal Libraries and Research Funding cuts

This group felt that the cuts were too quick and too complete for librarians to react to effectively. There was a sense that we’ve been assaulted; we’re in shock. But as one group member noted, this can be a useful government tactic when the government does not have the support of its citizens. The book referred to was Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine. Essentially its thesis is that if you shock people repeatedly and quickly enough, they become submissive and passive. It started with the census, it’s affecting scientific research and it’s affecting culture and libraries.

There was a feeling that the campaigns against the cuts such as to the census or to scientific funding were not making it outside of the academic community; that citizens were not concerned. But while the effects might not be felt today, they will be felt in the long term.

The group suggested a 5 C’s approach:

Coordinate: With all groups, especially outside of the library and the university.

Communicate: Start talking about the cuts, writing about them, writing to your MPs, writing to newspapers and other media.

Campaigns: This is the overall activity of raising awareness.

Consistency: This is going to be a long term activity. Keep up the pressure.

Collaborate: Let’s not rely on CLA to be our advocates. Let’s be creative in our connections with other groups, find similarities and work together for action.

Group 5: Association Responses to the cuts

This group made reference to Michael Geist’s social media campaign on copyright reform. It was incredibly successful and impacted legislation and built a grassroots response to an issue of concern.

The group felt that CLA had been too traditional in its response; perhaps it was in a difficult situation because LAC is a member. There was discussion about the specific cuts to reference service and digitization and how digitization is not without its limitations. It also mentioned the problematic nature of the PCDHN. The group also felt that the LAC has been on a long downward spiral and that these budget cuts were the final nail in the coffin. Advocacy is critical. “How to move forward as a community?” was a lingering question.

Canadian Museum of History Public Consultation in Gatineau

On January 31, 2013, the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the Canadian War Museum are holding a public consultation seeking information on the following questions:

– What would you put in your national history museum?

– What stories would you tell?

– How would you reach Canadians across the country?

Those in attendance might also ask a few questions of their own, such as:

– What’s the point of changing the mandate of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the most popular tourist attraction in the Ottawa Gatineau area, while starving other cultural institutions such as the LAC and Parks Canada?

– How is it that Canadian Heritage found $25 million for this project when it has cancelled other very successful and cross Canadian initiatives which cost much less and were very effective, such as the NADP ($1.7 million) and interlibrary loans from LAC, not to mention serious cuts to the CBC and the NAC. Let’s not also forget the nearly $30 million that has been devoted to the Conservative government’s pet history project, the war of 1812.

To start things off.

Although one wonders how successful this consultation effort will be considering that Don Butler of the Ottawa Citizen has reported indifference on the part of museum visitors when the public consultations launched in the museum itself in mid-October. It seems more than likely that this oblivion is a result of the fact that Canadians love this museum the way it is today. But James Moore seems to think differently. Not that he has much support anymore as Heritage Minister, other than from his own party.

If you’d like to attend this session, RSVP online at http://www.civilization.ca/myhistorymuseum/

If you can’t make it in person, you can take the online public engagement survey.

*****

See also  today’s article in the Winnipeg Free Press by James, “History is Not a Plaything.”

Federal Libraries and why closing them should not be business as usual

By Jennifer Dekker.

I received an anonymous email from someone who works for the government and who is tabulating information regarding the closures or downsizing of federal libraries. The email, which was an analysis of a 90 page return on federal departments (excluding crown corporations, etc.) intending to close, restructure, or review their current library operations.

The analysis implicated 13 federal departments and agencies.  Those that are closing or restructuring services according to latest information (September 2012) are as follows:

  • Canada Revenue Agency—-it will consolidate its nine libraries into one, location to be determined.
  • Library and Archives Canada—-it is closing its Staff Resource Centre on 1 Nov. 2012.
  • Public Service Commission—-will close its library.
  • Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism—-will close its library by 31 March 2013 but retain core mandate materials.
  • Parks Canada—-consolidating five regional libraries into one at Cornwall (closures at Calgary, Winnipeg, Haifax, Quebec City).
  • National Round Table on the Environment and Economy—-closing by March 2013.
  • Fisheries and Oceans—-it will consolidate library services into two principal and two subsidiary locations to be complete by September 30, 2013.
  • International Trade and Foreign Affairs—-Documentation Service and library of the Canadian Cultural Centre at the Canadian Embassy in Paris have been closed to the public since 21 June 2012.
  • Human Resources and Skills Development Canada—-will close its libraries located in Gatineau and Montreal as of 31 March 2013.
  • Natural Resources—-currently the department has 14 libraries. It will be closing six libraries in 2012-2013: two in Ottawa; one in Varennes, Edmonton, and another in western Canada. In 2014, another Ottawa library will close.
  • Transportation Safety Board of Canada—-it will downsize and perhaps close its library after a review which commenced in July 2012.
  • Public Works and Government Services—-already closed its library on 31 May 2012.
  • Transport Canada—-will close its library during fiscal 2012-13.

Unlike others in the Canadian library and information community, I don’t feel that closing federal libraries is business as usual. In case Canadians are not aware of the impact that closure of or cuts to federal libraries have on their everyday lives, let me I’d like to outline the way law are made in Canada, as one potential area that stands to be affected by the above cuts to libraries.

How laws are made (Also Known As “Why federal libraries are important”)

Policy advisors and lawyers perform research and consultations and based on what they find in their research, they write memoranda to cabinet ministers which, upon approval by the Privy Council Office go to Cabinet Committee for final approval. Once approved at Cabinet Committee, government lawyers start drafting a bill. The bill has to go through parliamentary committees, three readings in the House, royal assent and then to the Senate for approval. Finally, the bill is enacted and becomes law. Once the bill is actual legislation, then a department or agency of Government reacts by drafting new policy that is in keeping with the new laws.

Where do libraries fit into this process? I dropped a couple of clues in the paragraph above. Yes, when policy advisors and lawyers perform their research, they use federal libraries. With no federal libraries, or under-resourced libraries do our laws change? Yes. Most definitely. Does Canadian policy change? Yes. Does that affect our lives? I should think so. Most federal libraries are highly specialized and correspond to what policy advisors and others need to perform solid research. Federal librarians work very closely with researchers and policy people to develop relevant, trusted collections that ultimately are reflected in the quality of laws and policies that our governments produce.

I’m veering toward the dramatic to make my point but how might immigration law or policy be different without good research underpinning it? Transportation laws and safety? Taxation? Environment? We all know what happens when students try and pull their “research” from the internet…God help us if that’s what laws will eventually be based on without strong libraries supporting the research on issues that do eventually become law in this country.

I don’t think that closing federal libraries are a matter of business as usual, or of simply reallocating resources. We Canadians need to take the longer view. We need to see how essential libraries are to the business of government and down the road, to the quality of our own lives and laws here in this country.

Omnibus 2: Question about Library and Archives

Pierre Nantel, an NDP MP from Québec, is on record for requesting details of meetings that occurred within the Department of Canadian Heritage between 2008-2012, including meetings with the Librarian and Archivist of Canada.

The question is “With regard to the Department of Canadian Heritage, for each year between 2008 and 2012, on what dates were meetings held with the following individuals and what subjects were discussed?”

Is Nantel trying to get to the bottom of how decisions regarding the cuts across the Department were arrived at? Is he attempting to uncover a scandal? Not, sure but keep posted.