May 2012 Campaign Update

Changing Mandate

  • LAC is abandoning its commitment to acquire and maintain a comprehensive collection of Canada’s documentary heritage. LAC officials argue that a “representative” collection is all that is possible in the “digital age.”
  • LAC officials are considering cutting back on a central aspect of their mandate to receive from publishers two copies of all material published in Canada.

Lessened Collections

  • There have been no purchased acquisitions since 2009. The official 10-month moratorium, which ended in January 2010, has been followed by an unofficial “pause.”
  • There are many examples of important pieces of Canada’s heritage that LAC is not acquiring. Many of these pieces have been or will be bought by other national libraries and private collectors both inside and outside Canada.
    • Military History
      • 2 original speeches to the House of Lords regarding developments in the Seven Years’ War. No other copies in Canada. Sold to US.
      • Royal proclamation ordering that American non-combatant living on the frontiers not be molested during War of 1812 hostilities. (No other copies in North America. Sold to US.)
    • Music History
      • Possibly the earliest Canadian publication of Jewish liturgical music from 1915 12 page of chants with words and music written in Hebrew and Yiddish composed by Rev. L. Herzig, Montreal. (The only known copy.)
    • Children’s Literature
      • 2 books of nursery rhymes and engravings by Catharine Parr Traill (one of “Canada's most important 19th-century writers” according to LAC’s website) from 1825 and 1830. First Editions. (No other copies located.)
    • Aboriginal and Settler History
      • From 1903-5 a series of journals containing detailed information on history & legends of settlers & First Nations people of north shore of Gulf of St. Lawrence & Labrador Coast. Contains geographical description, First Nations’ lore, missionary activity & was the journal published in this region. (Previously unrecorded. No other copies. A rare survival.)
  • Descriptions of collections will no longer be written by archivist and librarians.
  • LAC is moving from 25 to 10 fields from describing fonds, making accurate online searching more difficult. One of the fields being eliminated is “provenance” which allows researchers to trace the origin of a particular book or document.

Loss of Knowledgeable Staff

  • On April 30, 2012, it was announced that LAC would lose approximately 20% of its staff -- a cut of 215 positions from 1065 to 850 staff. The announced cuts include:
    • 21 of the 61 archivists and archival assistants that deal with non-governmental records,
    • 50% of circulation staff for analogue holdings
    • 50% of digitization staff
    • 9 of 31 cataloguing librarians, plus 2 of 5 team leaders
    • 19 of 56 library technicians and clerks working in the collection of publications
    • a significant number of staff that deal with preservation and conservation (although the exact number is not available)
    • Loans and Exhibitions Coordinator, Manager of Microfilm Preservation and Imaging Services, Manager of the Digital Preservation Office, Preservation Registrar, Conservation Technician in Textual and Visual Records
    • the librarian positions responsible for multicultural publications and rare and out of print publications
    • closure of Staff Resource Centre (the reference library for specialist archivists and librarians at LAC)
    • closure of the Inter-Library Loans Unit as of February 2013.
  • Prior to the April 30 2012 cuts, staff levels had already declined by more than 48 full-time positions since 2004.
    • The following positions were already vacant at LAC:
      • Vacant archivist positions: Cartography, Moving Images and Sound Archives, Government Archives, Art and Photo archives, No archivists remain in the Multicultural portfolio (the archivist who was there left in early 2011 for another position), Aboriginal treaties and affairs
      • Vacant Librarian positions: Newspaper specialist, Government document specialist, Library Sciences specialist

Less Access

  • Reduced hours
  • Restricted access to archivists
  • Restricted resources for reference staff
  • Genealogy inquiries are by appointment only

Reduced Funding

  • LAC’s annual budget is, in constant dollars, $33-million less than it was in 1990. This is before the cuts announced in the 2012 budget.
  • The 2012 federal budget has further reduced LAC’s funding by $3.5-million this year, $6.6-million next year, and $9.6-million in 2014-15, and each year thereafter.
  • By 2014-15, adjusted for inflation, LAC’s budget will be just 58% of what it was in 1990-91.

Decentralization of collections

  • Daniel Caron, Library and Archivist of Canada, has announced that “the new environment is totally decentralized and our monopoly as stewards of the national documentary heritage is over.”
  • LAC will be decentralizing a large portion of its collections to both public and private institutions. LAC documents refer to this voluntary group of “memory institutions” as a “coalition of the willing.”
  • Distributing this material across the country makes it more difficult and costly for researchers to access.
  • LAC’s own research reveals significant risks associated with decentralization. Its Pathfinder’s report “Long-Term Loans: A Client-Focused Collaborative Approach” states:
    • Lending of material may result in limiting access to these collections
    • Moving and storage may result in possible loss of or damage to the collection.
    • Risk of deviation from LAC care and maintenance recommended standards notably in terms of transportation, storage, and quality of the facilities available for the material.
    • Risk that access to material loaned to partnering organizations might incur cost to the public.
    • For legal deposit, there is a danger that publisher compliance with the legal deposit requirement may decrease.
  • Regional libraries and archives across Canada have been subject to a series of severe cuts over the past two decades. They do not have the resources to adequately house and preserve our nationally significant material.
  • This was made dramatically worse by April 30 2012 announcement of the elimination of the National Archival Development Program (NADP) which provides support for programming undertaken by provincial archival associations as well as grants to small and medium archives across Canada.
    • NADP funded description, digitization, and backlog reduction initiatives (to name a few), as well as archives advisors. The archives advisors are located in every province and territory, and help archives across the country.
    • Many of these archives advisor jobs will now be eliminated or, in the best case scenario, reduced to part-time.
    • NADP funding also supported Archives Canada - a gateway to archival resources in over 800 repositories across Canada, allowing small archives to provide access to holdings that would otherwise be unknown. Each province and territory has its own database which feeds into the national one. Each of these databases is overseen by a coordinator who works with archives to help them input their descriptions into the database. As many of these archives are small and cannot afford their own databases, this national database has been an excellent means to provide access to archival holdings that normally would not be known.
    • Without NADP funding, most if not all of the database coordinators will not be able to continue, and the future of the database will be affected.

Limited Digitization

  • The changes and cuts are being justified by reference to digitization. A generous estimate is only 4% of the LAC collection has been digitized to date – a poor record that will be made worse by the cuts announced on April 30, 2012, which reduced digitization staff by 50%.

Departmental Library Closures

  • The cuts and changes at LAC are being compounded by the closing or downsizing of federal departmental libraries.
  • Some departments will be shutting their libraries altogether. Not only does this result in less support for departmental staff and researchers to access relevant information; but as many of these libraries also provide direct services to the public, Canadians will be prevented from having access to that information.
  • Announced closures or downsizing include the libraries of:
    • Agriculture Canada
    • Fisheries and Oceans
    • Citizenship and Immigration Canada
    • Industry Canada
    • National Capital Commission
    • National Defence
    • Public Works and Government Services
    • Public Service Commission
    • Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
    • Transport Canada.

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