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

The Héritage / Canadian project and why this stinks for access to Canadian history

I am a History librarian. I am other things as well, but in my professional life, I identify mostly with historians, historical materials and history librarianship. I deal day in and out with students and researchers seeking historical documents. Over the past eight years, I have noticed a shameful fact; that while other countries – the U.S., France, Australia, England, Scotland, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, etc.. etc… etc… develop amazing national digital historical treasures to share with the rest of the world, Canada’s national library has done next to nothing by comparison.

Let me be honest though about Canadian documentary history online – the one national source we do have, Early Canadiana Online / Notre mémoire en ligne, is no gold standard and I have never been a fan. It has terrible search and retrieval functions, the metadata is awful, the sources themselves are fairly banal in many cases, and it just generally really underwhelms as an online portal to Canadian history. However, it is what we have, no matter how disappointing.

ECO’s relative uselessness in my opinion, never made it an issue of concern for me, despite intense reaction to the Canadiana / Héritage project secret deal of earlier this spring and summer. I didn’t think it could ever improve to the point where it would be a go-to source for Canadian history. I’ve much preferred and relied on the work of local and provincial archives, scholarly projects and the like.

Michael Geist’s recent blog post changed my mind. Although I still doubt that ECO will ever be terribly useful, the way that LAC and Canadiana have approached Canadian historical documents – as though they were someone’s to own and whose access can be restricted- is cause for concern. I know no one in this country, at least not at the level of the federal government, will put any money forward to do full scale projects like Gallica or Australia’s national newspaper digitization project. Projects of that magnitude are the difference between the Louvre and the National Gallery – one country takes its cultural heritage very seriously and the other just doesn’t get it (no disrespect intended to the National Gallery). But really – releasing only 10% of the documents into the public domain per year – when they are already in the public domain? And charging subscriptions for the rest of the 90% until the 10 year “exclusive” hosting license expires does not sit well with. Surely the explanation is that funding was non-existent and it is more than likely that the people at LAC and Canadiana actually think they are doing Canada a favour by putting these documents online in this way. But unfortunately something that could have demonstrated real goodwill looks like a desperate grab for cash and an attempt to keep documents off the screens of Canadians. Will this project succeed? I suppose only history will tell, but it’s off to a very sad start.

Guide on “Access in the Academy: Bringing ATI and FOI to academic research”

Guide on “Access in the Academy: Bringing ATI and FOI to academic research”

“Access to Information and Freedom of Information  are ‘dual purpose’ devices with complicated  and implications. They operate in the service of transparancy and accountability, and in so doing, as  LaForest notes, they facilitate democracy. But they  also circumscribe the limits of transparency by codifying a range of exemptions and quasi-exemptions that curtail access and legitimize government secrecy.

ATI/FOI mechanisms regulate the interactions between groups with competing interests and reflect what philosopher Sissela Bok refers to as the politics and ethics of concealment and revelation. Some Canadian ATI/FOI regimes are reasonably
effective from a public interest standpoint, while others are so out-of-date or dysfunctional that they can reasonably be described as “broken”. From the standpoint of an academic, though, ATI/FOI mechanisms of all types can be incredibly useful – and
despite growing interest, they remain underutilized by the Canadian scholarly community. 

Individual researchers can use ATI/FOI mechanisms to gain access to otherwise unobtainable “back stage” government records, but in so doing, they – we – also make these records accessible to others and contribute to the broadening of the pool of publicly-accessible information. In this sense, all ATI/FOI research, regardless of whether and in what form the results are published, leaves a mark in the public domain.” 

APUO Members Make History

At today’s strike vote, 691 members voted. Repeat: 691 members voted. On July 31st. In the middle of the summer. Some were on sabbatical. Others were on vacation. A few more had just started their jobs on July 1st. They came and they voted. And they voted 82% in favour of a strike mandate. This is APUO’s first ever strike vote.

The strike mandate authorizes the APUO executive committee to call a strike if and when necessary.

The Negotiating Team will be in mediation this long weekend and will use all of its power to get members an acceptable contract that respects and promotes the quality of education at the university and ensures fair and equitable working conditions.

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

University of Toronto Faculty Association Letter to Rector Beauvais

Please see the letter sent from UTFA to Chantal Beauvais, Rector at St. Paul University. Scott Prudham, President of UTFA writes,

…I do feel obligated to remind you that academic staff – including librarians – are integral to the teaching and research missions of any university. In order to undertake their professional work in the university, and to further human understanding more broadly, academic staff require academic freedom, including the genuine security that permanent status and tenure provide. Security for academic staff in a university must be upheld and never trivialized in the face of
budgetary concerns no matter how severe those concerns may be. Moreover, in the unlikely event that terminations are the only way to address whatever fiscal problems your institution is encountering, collegial deliberations rather than unilateral decisions are warranted.

Thanks to UTFA for its support in this serious matter.