September 2012 Campaign Update

Archival organizations across Canada withdraw from Library and Archives Canada’s Pan-Documentary Heritage Network

On May 31st, 2012, the Association of Canadian Archivists (ACA) withdrew from LAC’s Pan Canadian Documentary Heritage Network (PCDHN). Citing the elimination of the National Archival Development Program (NADP) and the lack of consultation with archival organizations, the ACA suggested that LAC has violated its legislated mandate to "support the development of the library and archival communities" and to "provide professional, technical and financial support to those involve in the preservation and promotion of the documentary heritage and in providing access to it."

According to the ACA, while the LAC had successfully fulfilled its mandate through the NADP, with its "sporadic meetings" and controlled agendas", the PCDHN cannot possibly address the "diverse needs and interests of archives across Canada."

Since May 2012, the Canadian Council of Archives, the Association of Provincial and Territorial Archivists of Canada, and the University and College Archivists of Canada have also withdrawn from the PCDHN.

LAC withdraws from the Association of Research Libraries

In August 2012, LAC pulled out of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), North America’s preeminent organization of research libraries. LAC has yet to make a formal announcement of its withdrawal.  CAUT became aware of this through a widely posted letter by H. Thomas Hickerson, Vice Provost and University Librarian at the University of Calgary:

http://utlibrarians.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/library-and-archives-canada-lac-to-withdraw-from-the-association-of-research-libraries-arl/

For more information, and speculation on the reasons for LAC’s withdrawal from ARL, check out the following post:

http://bibliocracy-now.tumblr.com/post/30889096523/lac-announces-withdrawal-from-association-of-research

The real scoop on digitization at LAC

The cuts to services at LAC were justified by promises that digitizing LAC’s material and online access would make up for the deficiency of on-site services.  But, this argument made little sense when the April 2012 cuts reduced digitization staff by 50%. As a result, CAUT made an access to information request to find out the truth.  This is what we found out:

Total percentage of records digitized

  • LAC internal estimates indicate that approximately 0.5% of LAC holdings (both textual and non-textual) have been digitized to date.
  • Based on LAC’s estimated costs for the digitization, from January 2012, we can calculate the following:
    • Digitization of the published books, journals, and newspapers in LAC’s holdings (which in 2004, Ian Wilson indicated numbered about 19 million) would cost between $1.5 billion and $3.5 billion
    • At the current rate of spending on digitization (approx $5 million annually) it would take LAC 300-700 years to digitize its published holdings (acquired pre-2004).

NB: These are only the costs incurred for the physical process of digitizing the material. These numbers do not reflect the time, labour, and technology involved in cataloguing and preserving the material once it has been converted into a digital file format.

Audio-Visual Migration Project at LAC

  • LAC will be contracting with an external company for the digitization of (a portion of) LAC’s audio and video recordings. Estimated costs range from $27.7 million to $65 million.
  • Of the 29 AV migration projects proposed, 14 will take longer than 10 years to complete; 2 will extend as far as 2039 (reel to reel); and 1 will take until 2253 (disc).
  • This migration of AV material is largely being considered for preservation purposes. LAC’s AV Migration Action Plan (updated in 2010) indicates that material "where possible" may be available online for research purposes.
  • LAC has no clear plan for cataloguing and managing the massive amount of digital material that will be generated by this project. 

Legal Deposit: digital and analogue acquisitions of published titles

  • The number of born digital records for published titles that have been acquired by LAC has increased by over 50% since 2009.
  • The number of analogue records for published titles that have been acquired by LAC has steadily decreased by 27% since 2009.

This either means that there has been a 27% reduction in analogue published material in Canada since 2009 or that LAC is not living up to its legislated mandate with respect to legal deposit.

PSAC National Day of Action, "We are all affected"

On Saturday, September 15, 2012, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) held events across Canada to demonstrate support for public services and to share stories about the impact of federal cuts on our communities.

CAUT encouraged its members to attend National Day of Action events in their local communities.  Representatives from CAUT joined PSAC members and allies in Ottawa’s Confederation Park.

CAUT has been working with PSAC to highlight layoffs and restrictions on public access at LAC.  The "Save Library and Archives Canada" campaign has been an important public resource for all of those concerned about Canada’s ability to preserve, maintain, and make publicly accessible Canada’s documentary heritage.

Documentary Producers speak out!

The Documentary Organization of Canada (DOC), the group representing documentary film makers from across Canada, has produced a short video outlining their concerns with the cuts to service and resources at LAC. Please follow the link below to view:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReluC6sxYrY&feature=relmfu

Stay Informed; Stay Involved!

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