Thursday, May 10, 2012

Library and Archives Canada

The recent cuts to Library and Archives Canada announced by the Conservative Government leave me with a somewhat disenheartened feeling for a government which I helped to elect. A known Conservative I have supported the Conservative Party of Canada (under all names) since I first started to be involved with politics in my hometown.

I can see the need for a national repository of the heart and mind of Canadians as well as our essential government documents that tell the business history of our country. Any change in that national identity for Library and Archives Canada can only disappoint those of us who love Canada. The need to have a place where people can put their family research should also be an important part of that national story. I am concerned that cuts to the staffing of Library and Archives Canada will limit their ability to process and maintain this vital part of the voice of Canada now and in the future.

Obviously I can see that making our documentation including the census as it is due to be released and other such historical material available on line is a welcome addition to the current availability of material at Library and Archives Canada. But there still needs to be an ability for every individual Canadian who so desires to present themselves at the physical building and obtain their desired information within reasonable working hours. Not to provide such access is to fail the people of Canada.

Research as well is an essential part of our history; the story of migration within our borders and how that has affected us as a nation is a vital part of the story telling of Canada. I would not like to see the researchers of Canada (and elsewhere) limited in their access to Library and Archives Canada simply because a few dollars are going to be saved. Will it in actual fact be saved? Before any of these cuts are implemented at Library and Archives Canada I would like to see a more public accounting of the monies that are being spent at Library and Archives Canada and where these cuts will be and how they will be implemented. Since this is our history we should be aware of just what is being done to support the accumulation of the voice of Canada.

As regards putting material on line this is only possible when copyright has expired. Library and Archives Canada probably holds most of its material within copyright time frame so that we will be unable to look at material that interests us online in our lifetime. Public access is essential and to go with that is the need for support staff to assist that endeavour.

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