Save Library and Archives Canada Update – March 2013
LAC gives up on purchased acquisitions of Canadian history
In 2009, LAC announced a 10-month moratorium on purchasing acquisitions. Now, almost four years later, acquisitions have still not resumed. LAC’s purchased acquisitions – items of national significance acquired from private individuals or organizations – constitute an essential part of the LAC collection mandate. They offer Canadians insight into the unofficial stories of Canada’s past. The gaps that have been created in our historical record as a result of this cessation will seriously compromise the ability of present and future generations to know our history.
Antiquarian booksellers, previously an important supplier of rare material to LAC, have all but given up on offering their significant Canadiana to our national library and archives.
“ABAC (The Antiquarian Booksellers of Canada) remains disappointed that the Harper Government continues its active role in the destruction of Canada’s historical depository, Library and Archives Canada. Because of the policies and cuts of this government, the library has abandoned the acquisitions of historical pieces of Canadiana, and now most booksellers have given up offering LAC important pieces of Canadian history.” Liam Mcgahern, president of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of Canada (ABAC)
Joseph Hall, Toronto Star, “Historical letters not wanted at Library and Archives Canada, critics say”, March 10, 2013
Interlibrary Loans Service Closed
In spite of widespread protest from user groups from across the country, the Interlibrary Loans Service (ILL) of Library and Archives Canada officially closed its doors on Friday February 15 2013.
The ILL at LAC allowed any Canadian library to borrow material from our national library at Library and Archives Canada when the material is not available elsewhere. Without this service, the only access is if individuals travel to Ottawa to consult books and other documents that previously could have been forwarded directly to their local library.
In the fiscal year 2012-2013 alone LAC filled 21,294 requests for loans and copies from its collections and helped locate materials at other facilities in response to another 11,658 requests. The loss of ILL is a huge a blow to Canadians’ ability to access to our collective history.
LAC officials have defended the cut with the claim that Canadians will have digital access to LAC’s holdings. This assertion is, simply put, a lie. CAUT’s access to information request revealed that approximately 0.5% of LAC holdings (both textual and non-textual) have been digitized to date. Based on LAC’s own estimated costs for the digitization, digitizing LAC’s books, journals, and newspapers alone would cost between $1.5 billion and $3.5 billion which, at the current rate of spending on digitization (approx $5 million annually), would take LAC 300-700 years.
Visit John D Reid’s blog to read the farewell letter written by the staff of the Interlibrary Loan Service of Library and Archives Canada:
Charelle Evelyn, “National library cuts severing ties with past,” The Prince George Citizen, January 28 2013
LAC’s new Code of Conduct
In January 2013, LAC’s Code of Conduct: Values and Ethics came into effect. The code is a clear indication of the contempt with which LAC administration treats its staff. The code outlines severe restrictions on staff behavior both in their public and personal lives.
Professional development activities such as attending conferences, teaching, publishing, or working with LAC client organizations were all activities which were promoted, even celebrated, as important staff activities in the past. LAC’s new code of conduct qualifies these activities as “high risk” and lays out a series of restrictive conditions that employees must meet before they can engage in these activities without discipline.
LAC employees’ personal activities, including use of social media, are also restricted. The code goes as far as to assert that an employee could be subject to disciplinary measures if their commentary about LAC or the Canadian government, made in a limited access forum, accidently became public.
The code further includes a provision encouraging employees to report on one another.
The outcry over the muzzling of LAC staff has exploded in the media. Please see the following list of links to recent media coverage of this issue:
Margaret Munro’s story “Canada’s federal librarians fear being ‘muzzled’”, March 16, 2013:
Margaret Munro’s follow up story “ABCs of ‘behaviour regulation’ for federal librarians and archivists”, March 19, 2013:
On March 19th, in the House of Commons, James Moore, the Minister responsible for Library and Archives Canada, distanced himself from the LAC administration and their “Code of Conduct” (more appropriately named “Muzzle for librarians and archivists”):
Daniel Caron’s response:
CAUT’s Executive Director, James Turk, interview on Radio-Canada International:
Myron Groover’s, chair of British Columbia Library Association’s Information Policy Committee, interview on As it Happens:
Writer’s Union of Canada letter:
An editorial in the Calgary Herald – March 25, 2013:
For more information about the Save Library and Archives Canada campaign visit our website at www.savelac.ca or contact:
Rosa Barker (613-726-5166)
Angela Regnier (613-726-5186)