Emonton PLG Responds to RSC Expert Panel on the Future of Canadian Libraries and Archives

Below you will find the Edmonton Chapter of the Progressive Librarians Guild‘s Response to the Royal Society of Canada’s Expert Panel on the Future of Canadian Libraries and Archives.

The Progressive Librarians Guild, Edmonton Chapter (PLG Edmonton), was directly invited to participate by the Royal Society of Canada’s Expert Panel on the Future of Canadian Libraries and Archives, but PLG Edmonton has decided to forgo this futile opportunity.  The mandate of the Panel is confused and meaningless, as to address any of the six objectives in a comprehensive manner would require a much broader undertaking and consultation.  The limited consultation will result in only a handful of Canadians being consulted, and particularly notable is the fact that the panel and its consultation itinerary has clearly privileged the views of urban Canadians living in major metropolitan centres.  While the Expert Panel has numerous representatives from the upper echelons of library and archive management, notably absent from the panel are the expert practitioners whose daily work in libraries and archives is what makes these institutions so valuable to Canadians.  The Panel’s report will have little influence on the Canadian public.  Indeed, it would appear that the primary and dominant benefactors from the Expert Panel are the panelists themselves.

In addition to the shortcomings of the expert panel, PLG Edmonton also questions the utility of the panel presenting its findings to the Harper Government.  This government is the same government that was worked to undermine any evidentiary base for policy through actions such as eliminating the long-form census, actively muzzling scientists, and showing a dismal record with respect to supporting Library and Archives Canada.

With regard to the latter, there is no shortage of issues at LAC that this government has presided over, including appointing Daniel Caron, cutting the National Archive Development Program (NADP), and adopting the draconian LAC Code of Conduct.  Regardless of the recommendations of the panel, its report will simply end up being used a paperweight by the politicians in the Langevin Block.

PLG Edmonton

http://plgedmonton.ca <http://plgedmonton.blogspot.com/p/about.html>.

@PLGedmonton or http://twitter.com/PLGedmonton _______________________________________________

More on Canadiana from the Council of Canadian Archives

From a message posted on the national archival community list-serv, ARCAN-L.

On October 1st, 2013, Canadians were made aware of several documents relating to the Héritage digitization project, via the blog of Dr. Michael Geist http://www.michaelgeist.ca/ It should be noted that recently the Canadiana.org<http://canadiana.org/> Board opened the door to dialogue with the archival community about this project.  However, the Canadian Council of Archives, on behalf of the Canadian archival community, wishes to express our concern and provide clarification about the following points from the undated LAC document entitled “Backgrounder”:

“*Library associations support this partnership and the work of Canadiana.ca<http://canadiana.ca/>[sic]:

[list of Library Associations]

* Stakeholders of this collection are users of public, university and other libraries across Canada.

* The archival community’s only concern is that Canadian’s description approach will be consistent with their own.”

Canada’s more than 800 archives have been, and continue to be, committed to preserving the unique materials in their care and to providing democratic and free access to the information held in the collections, in both analogue and digital formats.

The Canadian archival community was surprised that archives users and archival institutions were not considered potential stakeholders in this project at the time of this document’s drafting. The archival community was not invited to participate in this project, and no discussion about this project had taken place with the community.

Archival description is only one aspect of the professional work required to make available documentary heritage in digital form.  Without any consultation or involvement with the archival community, it was inappropriate to make any assumptions about the archival community’s concerns.  We have welcomed the recent opportunity to discuss this project.


Le 1er octobre, le blog du Dr. ​​Michael Geist présentait aux Canadiens plusieurs documents relatifs au projet de numérisation Héritage.http://www.michaelgeist.ca/

Il convient de noter qu’une porte a récemment été ouverte par le Conseil de direction deCanadiana.org<http://canadiana.org/> pour discuter de ce projet avec la communauté archivistique.  Cependant, le Conseil canadien des archives, au nom de la communauté archivistique canadienne, souhaite exprimer ses inquiétudes au sujet des points suivants à partir du document de BACnon daté intitulé «Backgrounder» (en anglais seulement) :

“*Library associations support this partnership and the work of Canadiana.ca<http://canadiana.ca/>[sic]:

[list of Library Associations]

*Stakeholders of this collection are users of public, university and other libraries across Canada.

* The archival community’s only concern is that Canadian’s description approach will be consistent with their own.”

Plus de 800 centres d’archives canadiens continuent à s’investir dans la préservation des documents uniques dont ils ont la garde et à donner accès gratuitement et démocratiquement à l’information détenue dans leurs collections, que ce soit en format analogique ou numérique.

La communauté archivistique canadienne était surprise que les utilisateurs des archives et les institutions d’archives n’aient pas été considérés comme des acteurs potentiels de ce projet au moment de la rédaction de ce document. La communauté archivistique canadienne n’a pas été invitée à participer à ce projet, et aucune discussion sérieuse n’a eu lieu sur le sujet.

La description archivistique n’est qu’un aspect du travail professionnel nécessaire pour rendre accessible le patrimoine documentaire numérique. Sans aucune consultation ou participation de la communauté, il était inapproprié d’affirmer que les normes de description archivistique du projet est la seule préoccupation de la communauté archivistique canadienne. Nous voudrions profiter de l’occasion offerte récemment de discuter de ce projet.

Lara Wilson

Chair | Canadian Council of Archives

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

CCA toll free number:  1-866-254-1403

ALA chimes in on LAC’s Code of Conduct

ALA threw its support behind CLA this week and sent this letter to Minister Moore.

Highlight: “The current LAC Code of Conduct: Values and Ethics does not strike the needed balance with intellectual freedom. The Code restricts unnecessarily the ability of librarians and information professionals to perform key aspects of their work, namely, teaching and speaking at conferences and other public engagements.

This is not only a grave detriment to knowledge and intellectual activity in Canada, but to the library and information profession community around the world.”

ALA was, for the first few decades of professional librarianship in Canada, the national library association for Canadians. It still has 1,100 Canadian members (many librarians at UO are indeed members) and still takes an interest in issues affecting the information worker community north of its border.


Letter from Canadian Historical Association to Daniel Caron re: Code of Conduct

Ottawa, March 21, 2013

Dr. Daniel Caron, Deputy Head and Librarian and Archivist of Canada

Library and Archives Canada

Office of the Deputy Head and Librarian and Archivist of Canada

550 de la Cité Blvd Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0N4

Dear Dr. Caron,

On behalf of the Canadian Historical Association I write regarding the recently released document Library and Archives Canada Code of Conduct: Values and Ethics. The Canadian Historical Association is the principal organization of professional historians in Canada. We write from the standpoint of professional history and the possible implications of this document for historical practice in Canada.

The CHA accepts that governments see merit in codes of conduct for public servants as a guide to good ethical and professional practice, but we believe that several provisions in the new LAC code are excessive and counterproductive. Particularly inappropriate is the characterization of outside professional activities of archivists such as teaching and conference participation as “high risk” We have examined other codes of conduct for public servants, such as the Value and Ethics Guide posted by the Civil Service Commission of the Government of Manitoba. (http://www.gov.mb.ca/csc/policy/valueethic.html). We have found no other examples of codes of conduct claiming that such activities are “high risk.” We suggest that LAC rewrite this code to remove such language and not to dwell unduly on concerns about what staff members might do or say when engaging in professional activities with the outside world. It seems to us that existing federal human resources policies are more than adequate for dealing with any rare breaches of professional responsibilities should they arise and that overall it is far better to encourage exchanges than to discourage them.

Various staff members of LAC, including you, have presented papers at the Canadian Historical Association annual conferences. The participation of you and your staff has been very welcome, indeed essential for maintaining important links between professional historians and archivists. At the CHA we have long welcomed advice from archivists about new acquisitions or accessions of archival materials to the benefit of historical practice across the country, which has often been delivered in papers or publications. The characterization of such activities as “high risk” tends to impart a negative connotation and perhaps also to inhibit such professional exchanges which are critical to advancing both archival sciences and mutual learning among archivists, historians, and other related professionals. Moreover, many archivists are also historians in their own right, with research and scholarly careers outside of their work as archivists. Finally, inhibitions on conference presentations and teaching could damage second-career prospects for LAC archivists who are eligible to transition to a university career, even as federal budget cutbacks encourage public servants to look to such career changes.

As it stands, the LAC Code of conduct will limit conference attendance, inhibit the dissemination of knowledge, place undue restraints on the sharing of best practices and discourage interdisciplinary conversations that take place at conferences. We urge you to reconsider this code of conduct and at a minimum to scrap the most egregious passages. Members of my executive would be pleased to meet with you and your colleagues for a fuller discussion of this matter at a mutually convenient time. I personally would be happy to share my experience of 35 years of dealing with such issues as a professional historian with the federal government, which provide considerable context and perspective of potential value to LAC as it addresses this matter.

We look forward to hearing from you regarding this matter of serious concern for Canada’s historical community.



Lyle Dick


Canadian Historical Association / Société historique du Canada

Update! Audio interviews on LAC’s Code of Conduct

Jian Ghomeshi’s opening essay on CBC Radio’s Q March 2nd 2013 was devoted to the LAC Code of Conduct. To listen, please go to: http://www.cbc.ca/q/blog/2013/03/22/jians-opening-essay-on-library-and-archives-canada/

Thanks to our colleague Myron Groover for his interview on CBC’s program “As It Happens” regarding the LAC Code of Conduct: http://www.cbc.ca/player/AudioMobile/As+It+Happens/ID/2352464065/

Jim Turk, Executive Director of CAUT also gave a terrific interview available at: http://www.rcinet.ca/english/daily/interviews-2012/14-44_2013-03-18-librarians-warned-of-loyalty-duty-to-canada-s-government-high-risk-activities/

Heritage Critics Weigh in on LAC’s Code of Conduct

Thanks to Lara Wilson, Chair, Canadian Council of Archives, for sharing the message below. The author is Pierre Nantel, NDP Heritage Critic.

The latest revelations about Library and Archive Canada’s new “Code of Conduct,” imposed by its Conservative-nominated management, are deeply disturbing.

Library and Archives’ government-appointed management now demands that the librarians, archivists and historians who work at Canada’s publicly funded archival institution must demonstrate “loyalty to the government and its elected officials”, which extends “beyond the workplace to personal activities.” LAC librarians and archivists are no longer allowed to represent their institution at conferences and elsewhere, and are banned from speaking on any subject related to LAC’s activities.

My colleague Andrew Cash and I asked the Minister of Canadian Heritage about this in the House of Commons today. The questions and answer video is here:http://youtu.be/BlEYlzwvJXg

In summary: Minister Moore appointed Library and Archive’s management, which is now demanding “loyalty” to the government’s “elected officials.” This isn’t just mismanagement – it’s another step in the dismantling of this institution.

We say enough. The gutting of Canada’s Library and Archives has to stop.

Please spread this message to those you know who are worried about the future of our national institutions responsible for preserving Canadian history. Send us an email at pierre.nantel@parl.gc.ca<mailto:pierre.nantel@parl.gc.ca> to get in touch and share your concerns on this issue. We’d like to hear from you.

Best regards,

Pierre Nantel

Député de Longueuil–Pierre-Boucher   |   MP
Porte-parole de l’opposition officielle en matière de Patrimoine  |  Official Opposition Critic for Heritage
Nouveau Parti démocratique  |  New Democratic Party

Téléphone 613.992.8514  |  Télécopieur 613.992.2744  |  pierre.nantel@parl.gc.ca<mailto:pierre.nantel@parl.gc.ca>
npd.ca<http://www.npd.ca/>  |  pierrenantel.npd.ca<http://www.pierrenantel.npd.ca/>  |  facebook<http://www.facebook.com/pierrenantelNPD>   |  twitter<https://twitter.com/pierrenantel>

LAC’s “Values and Ethics” Powerpoint Leaked

With thanks to Myron Groover of Bibliocracy.

See the powerpoint presentation here that was used as part of LAC’s new “code of conduct” for employees which has been in effect since January 2013. For more information, see Myron’s post “LAC Code of Conduct: First Look” and the article at Canada.com Canada’s federal librarians fear being ‘muzzled.’

Here is the Code of Conduct.