Toronto Consultations

On Thursday afternoon, January 16, nine members of the panel engaged in a wide-ranging conversation with librarians from the Toronto Public Library system, the University of Toronto, University of Guelph, Ryerson University, and York University, archivists from the City of Toronto and the University of Toronto, faculty and students from the iSchool, IT specialists, consultants, and teacher-librarians. A major topic in our conversation was the need for greater cooperation and collaboration between libraries and archives, possibly taking a cue from the successful harmonization of the distinct yet related disciplines evidenced at Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec. It was stressed, however, that this closer relationship does not necessarily mean that merging libraries and archives is an answer in all or even most circumstances. However, a repeated theme, echoed in all of our consultations, involved the assessment of LAC-BAC. Participants expressed dismay and outrage that the institution’s 2004 mandate was not being followed, that communications were not effective, that holdings appear to be being dispersed without consultation, and that a very minimal portion of the holdings (less than 1%) have been digitized. The differences between the statements, “we will collect” and “we will choose” mean that some decisions already taken have resulted in irreparable, irreversible damage. Leadership, as participants noted, is ceded and not taken; moreover, it must be based on trust. Different models of national leadership, with the possibility of LAC coordinating already existing networks, were entertained. As a consortial initiative, the Scholars Portal was cited as an efficient, replicable pattern. A forcefully reiterated warning on the matter of access was that digitization does not mean getting rid of an original. The digitized copy can, it was pointed out, act as a device for making a larger audience aware of a document’s existence, while the original is protected. Several metaphors circulated about libraries, archives, and their professional staffs.

Libraries are conduits rather than gatekeepers, with the TPL crowd sourcing project on Yonge Street in which people upload their stories as one example; archives are evidence holders, contributing to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the settlement of cases of wrongful conviction, as with Steven Truscott. Librarians and archivists were hailed as physiotherapists of the mind. We were reminded of the complex service proposition in communicating the value of these institutions, where creativity, culture, learning, research, economic impacts, and service need to be meshed in an appropriately inclusive concept. As we heard at these sessions and at others, librarians and archivists are not always comfortable with the need to promote their own worth.

The panel is deeply grateful to colleagues at the iSchool, Dean Seamus Ross and Wendy Duff, and U of T archivist Loryl MacDonald for securing a room at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education for our consultation and for publicizing the event with such encouraging results.

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From Thursday, January 29, until Saturday, February 1, Ken Roberts and I talked to delegates at the Ontario Library Association Super Conference and met with representatives of many organizations. First of all we want to express our appreciation to Shelagh Paterson, OLA Executive Director, for arranging these meetings and securing an appropriate venue for us at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

As well as circulating through the large poster area, we held conversations with the Federation of Ontario Public Libraries, the Ontario Health Libraries Association, the Ontario Association of Library Technicians, the Toronto Public Library, the Hamilton Public Library, Southern Ontario Library Services, the Ontario Library Association, and the Council of Urban Libraries of Canada. We also convened an open, drop-in session for any delegates on Saturday.

We heard of many positive developments in public libraries: the library as a digital innovation hub, the growth of maker spaces, of ESL conversation circles, of multiple literacies, of reading clubs, and the presence of a social worker within the library. We were reminded of the power of the collective or consortium to encourage joint buying, integrate services to the curriculum with demonstrable increases in outcomes measurement, and accommodate regional storage.

Amid the reports of cradle-to-grave learning, idea boxes, and aging-in-place concepts, and such slogans as from transaction to transformation, we also heard strong pleas not to forget the primary message that libraries have space, staff, and stuff. We were challenged to unpack the notion of the public good and to see libraries and archives in a wraparound agreement.

Areas where intervention is needed include school libraries, the library technician programs, the closure of libraries in sub-acute care hospitals, the demise of the Depository Service Program, and the sheer proliferation of organizations sometimes with mixed and therefore unfulfilled mandates. The closure of libraries in hospitals seemed to echo a theme heard repeatedly. When funding is tight, administrators often choose to believe that anything can be found by doctors or other professionals on their own, with resources or assistance. At OLA we heard similar stories from those responsible for Math and Map libraries.

The lack of scholarship on school libraries, the fact that no one at the Ministry of Education has responsibility for school libraries and that there are no mandatory standards for school libraries undermine the strong connection between early and sustained professional library guidance and academic success. The education programs for library technicians also exist without overarching provincial standards. The closure of hospital libraries means that patient outcomes directly related to library professionals are being jeopardized. The demise of the DSP means that the Canadian public is less informed of government business. The number of “advocacy” organizations trying to address both programs and services as well as issues and awareness is a sobering lesson of slicing, shaving, and lessening impact.

We roamed the vendor booths at OLA and sought comments from private sector vendors who supply products to libraries. A representative from one catalogue supplier commented that traditional cataloguing practices are killing libraries since most of the records are not picked up by search engines that have become the primary way for people to locate the information they need. Libraries, in contrast, carry too many “dark records” that are not visible to most searchers. We also heard that archives have not learned from the success of Facebook, that archives and libraries will never have enough resources to digitize all of their records but that much could be gained by developing systems that encourage people to load, onto archival servers. photos and documents that they personally own. This vendor stressed that one key to better public acceptance and awareness is public participation.

Publisher Jim Lorimer stated that even publishers fight for attention, that the subject codes they use are all slanted toward American topics. He stressed that local bookstores were as much social enterprises as businesses, never making much money even in their best years and that we are now left only with Chains, making book distribution in Canada extremely problematic. Publishers are desperately search for ways to reach their audience.

We heard from one librarian, Wendy Newman, who participated in the 2012 “Today on the Hill” event where librarians met with politicians from all parties in Ottawa. Wendy came away from that experience with what she described as “the eye-opening” impression that politicians of all parties believed that everything they needed was available on the web and that LAC had digitized most of its collection.

Consultant Rebecca Jones expressed concern about the “slicing and dicing” of the library/archive community, with so many organizations and voices. She stated “everyone has to give a little to get a lot.” She added, why are so many organizations trying to be advocates? “With so many voices, we are part of the problem.”

Regina Consultation

On Friday, November 29, panelists Ernie Ingles and Patricia Demers held ten separate meetings with librarians and archivists from Saskatchewan in the Regina Public Library. We were eager to discover what set services in Saskatchewan apart, especially since they had been cited in many of our earlier consultations as “models.” The RPL director and CEO, Jeff Barber, kindly accommodated our sessions in the Board Room, and we remain grateful for his generous hospitality. Collaboration and integration were the salient topics of our conversations.

Robert Thomas, Research Services Librarian at the University of Regina and President of the Saskatchewan Library Association, introduced the importance of the SLA, a voluntary association connecting librarians, through travelling across the province, contributing to the annual conference, encouraging partnerships about staff training and professional development, and providing small bursaries to Saskatchewan students to pursue masters degrees. The result of the cancellation of interlibrary loan services at LAC has meant the downloading of services to the Provincial Library.

Representatives of the Saskatchewan Council for Archives and Archivists, including Cheryl Avery, University Archivist at the University of Saskatchewan, Mark Vajcner, University Archivist at the University of Regina, Cameron Hart, Archives Advisor for the SCAA, Donald Johnson, Archivist at the Saskatchewan Archives Board, and Jeremy Mohr, Manager of records processing at the SAB, stressed the contributions of Saskatchewan Culture, through its lotteries, as their primary source of funding. Such support accounts for their ability to continue to offer small sustenance to community archives in the wake of the abrupt cancellation of the NADP. Provincial Archivist Linda McIntyre and Curt Campbell, manager of digital records at SAB, outlined the mandate and challenges of engaging people with their documentary heritage through the acquisition and preservation of analogue, digital, and born-digital materials. With a funding base that would need to be expanded to $7.6 M to meet the demands of being a custodian of the province’s historical memory, they likened the position of the preservation archivist to a purser on the Titanic. There was general agreement that the development of a framework for a Trusted Digital Repository, possibly in conjunction with a pan-Canadian network of TDRs, was imperative.

Most of the remaining conversations were devoted to libraries, though not exclusively. The Friends of the Regina Public Library informed us that a history of the RPL’s first 100 years is nearing completion. They pointed to the model of the Albert branch as an outstanding example of community-based service to a largely Aboriginal population. RPL Director Jeff Barber and the Board Chair Darryl Lucke underscored the “booming” nature of the RPL, with high usage, circulation numbers in the millions, and thousands of Regina residents taking advantage of free programs and services. The new Albert branch, planned for 2016, will be a mixed-use, shared facility of public and school library partners and the city of Regina; its Aboriginal name will be decided by Elders themselves.

Our sessions moved next to models of governance. From the perspective of a retired librarian at the Provincial Library of Saskatchewan who was seconded to the Canadian Plains Research Centre to work on the Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan, Bob Ivanochko observed that five times more librarians are needed to meet demands in bilingual and multi-cultural services. John Murray, Director and CEO of the Wapiti Regional Library (116 municipal members, rural municipalities, towns, cities and villages, plus 17 First Nations) pointed to “chronic inadequate funding for professional staffing positions” and a lack of capacity to assess literacy challenges among young, adult, Aboriginal, and New Canadians. The Saskatchewan Multitype Library Board, represented by Chair Susan Baer, Provincial Librarian Brett Waytuck, and Barbara Bulat and Elgin Bunston from the Provincial Library and Literacy Office, explained the genesis of this co-operative forum of four library sectors plus the Saskatchewan Provincial Library as partners in public, school, special, and post-secondary libraries providing a unified vision of information services. The Multitype Library’s main programs involve the Multi Database Licensing Program and Digitization. Melissa Bennett, Legislative Librarian for the Saskatchewan Legislative Library, identified the primary client group she serves as legislators, but also, though less often,  the public.

The rest of the discussions concerned the remarkable and unique Saskatchewan Information and Library Services. Jeff Barber, Brett Waytuck, and Julie McKenna, Deputy Library Director at RPL, relayed the importance of this single, harmonized, one-card system for the whole province. As President of SILS, Jeff explained that it “harnesses the power of co-operation,” “attracts talented people,” “improves user experience,” “reduces duplication of effort” with four people assigned to catalogue records for the entire system, and thus allows for “the re-allocation of other staff.” This standardization of policies and simplified operational structure are key elements of “providing better service by spending money together.”

Our instructive day in Regina proved that the praise of integration and collaboration we had heard in advance was richly deserved.

Halifax Consultations

On November 8 and 9 four members of the panel, Judith Hare, Ernie Ingles, Ken Roberts, and Patricia Demers, met with participants at Dalhousie University and at the Alderney Gate Branch of the Halifax Public Library in Dartmouth. Our discussions with individual presenters and large groups were richly informative and full of encouragement for our work. We were especially pleased to meet participants from across Atlantic Canada–from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Representatives of the Council of Nova Scotia Archives (CNSA) told us of the range of services offered by this 91-member professional association, including individual site visits and such well-attended education programs as the Core Curriculum certificate and the Introduction to Archives course. The Provincial Archival Development Program provides essential support to bring cultural assets together and to promote the visibility of the archival community. The Co-operative Acquisition policy allows the CNSA to de-accession certain material to the communities where they originated and where, after careful investigation, the Council is convinced they can be best kept, used, and preserved.

However, the prospects within the archival community are not uniformly positive. Archival searches are fundamental elements of many research programs, and yet the budget lines in SSHRC grant applications do not allow for the recognition and compensation of the vital archival labour to prepare, document, and guide archival searches. We heard forceful arguments in favour of de-accessioning to permit local communities themselves to house their own history and artefacts. The closure or non-availability of archival material at LAC as well as the disappearance of specialist archivists was a repeated cause of concern. Students in archival studies pointed to the disconnect between their Management classes in which they are taught to be “savvy” and the absence of a big vision in national leadership. Participants with special interests in Canadian publishing, past and present, reminded us of the preciousness of the book as a material object, the warnings against digital utopianism, and the need for new models in an ecosystem that is out of balance.

On Saturday morning we met with a member of the Canadian Historical Association, who expressed colleagues’ concerns about blocked access to archives, “the Mecca for historians,” at LAC. Historians would like more information about the processes and criteria for digitization of Canadian records within the “whole of society” theme and about a possible transition strategy concerning Inter-Library Loans. The AMICUS site impresses historians as belonging to the age of the buggy. Although periods of transition are a constant condition of academic work, the current moment at LAC is especially problematic in light of the decreased number of acquisitions, the devaluing of hard-won expertise and consequent lowering of morale, the lack of clarity about decentralization and how it will affect or benefit scholarship, and the need to address the preservation of born-digital material.

The afternoon session at the Alderney Gate Library in Dartmouth allowed us to hear from librarians, archivists, and readers across the Maritimes. The librarians were ardent champions of de-mystification, seeing themselves not as “crypt keepers” but as “shepherds” who oversee and enable twenty-first-century third spaces and gathering spaces. We learned of the creative innovation of librarians dealing with a $40K shortfall in the budget of an institution serving as the hub of literacy and lifelong learning, and the point of first entry in a widespread, non-affluent demographic. Opinions were varied about the feasibility and success of public school libraries. In one instance, it was the challenge of fulfilling two mandates, allowing for different hours of operation and supplying adequate security. By contrast, the 26 public libraries in PEI, all located either in schools or community buildings, demonstrate that such collaborative models can and do work. We heard compelling defences of bookmobiles and of the importance of vibrant community archives.

In our Halifax consultations we were exceptionally happy at the number of participants (on a holiday weekend!) and heartened by their passionate commitment to libraries and archives.

Edmonton Consultations

The panel held two consultations in Edmonton, at the University of Alberta in the School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS) on October 28 and at the Provincial Archives of Alberta (PAA) on October 29. Chief Librarian and Vice-Provost Gerald Beasley co-hosted the consultation at SLIS. Both events echoed salient themes: “the richness of the information ecology we have,” a focus on the service orientation of libraries and archives, spirited calls and campaigns for advocacy, and laments for the disappeared services at LAC.

The complex layers of knowledge, information, and data, it was argued, require a “holistic perspective.” Although standards, collections development, legal deposit, and an authoritative international reputation all need and presume a federal presence, many participants expressed disappointment and scepticism about the current situation at LAC, citing the disappearance of specialist archivists, the refusal of requests, and the message that a book published in Canada in 2012 would not be available to a researcher working at LAC until 2015. “There’s very little to be proud of here.” In the discussion of the designation “information manager,” some participants judged the label “technocratic and reductive,” while others suggested that the title could be understood as “marketing library schools to young people.”

The interrelated issues of diversified services and advocacy sparked many exchanges. “In library school, it is valuable to remind students that we are all about customer service.” Gerald Beasley mentioned the example of Quebec; when he arrived in the province in the nineties, “there was a complete turnaround to the commitment to public information.” He noted, “The Grande Bibliothèque was the first expression of the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ), the first public institution to be called national within Quebec.” One participant challenged us to become “ambassadors for the library” through events, exhibits, and collections. Rather than making the library invisible by being proud of not having to enter it because of online facilities, library users and patrons continue to enact specific and unique ways of learning, which the new and evolving spaces of libraries are accommodating. “The library exists and does work.”

Although not every feature of its intellectual, cultural, economic, social, and political impact can be measured, some aspects of loss can be documented. The widespread elimination of the teacher-librarian position means that “we have generations of kids with a complete alienation to library services” and the resultant loss of “critical literacies.”

At the PAA the following evening, issues of advocacy, education, and physical space were paramount. Although the abrupt cancellation of the NADP has meant that the Archives Society of Alberta has lost “one of its legs,” collaborative campaigns to build public awareness and political support continue unabated. Examples of “creativity on a shoestring” include renting stalls at farmers’ markets, publishing an archives calendar, and mounting a fashion show at City Hall. Public awareness of the value of such institutions as archives starts at an early age with an inculcation through example of the preciousness and uniqueness of objects, a hard sell in our throwaway culture. A related recognition involves the importance of “professionals to interpret things.” The “digital by default” mantra of the provincial Open Government program poses a genuine dilemma for archivists: “we need funding to digitize in order for people to have a historical perspective.” Although many small archives exist with “subpar facilities” and are “bursting at the seams,” even the ten-year-old, state-of-the-art “pinnacle” PAA is now full.

Calgary Consultations

On October 24th through 26th Expert Panel representatives were in Calgary, and met with individuals representing organizations coincidental with the Netspeed Conference. It is our pleasure to thank, profoundly, Clive Maishment, the Chief Executive Officer of The Alberta Library, and Stacey Bissell his associate for their most kind cooperation, generosity and support of the Panel and its activities.

In Calgary there were private conversations with a number of individuals representing various library institutions.  These included:

  • First Nation Colleges as represented by and through the First Nations Information Connections (FNIC)
  • Province of Alberta, Municipal Affairs, Public Library Services Branch
  • Library Association of Alberta (LAA)
  • Alberta Library Trustees Association (ALTA)
  • NEOS
  • The Alberta Library (TAL)
  • Calgary Public Library (CPL)

The Panel appreciates the candid and forthright views of those interviewed. Many of the topics discussed will not be chronicled in this blog post as the intentions of the commentators was to make candid comment with expectations of a privacy privilege in terms of public postings. We will honour that perspective.

A myriad of topics was discussed nonetheless, and there were some common threads among commentators. Not surprisingly given the nature of many of the organizations above, discussion turned to the issues and options relating to library cooperation and collaboration. Jurisdiction was introduced as both an enabler and a detriment to cooperation. Rationalization and integration of services were discussed, looking at options municipally (School Boards and Public Library Boards), within the provinces, the regions, nationally and indeed internationally.  Several of the representatives, independently, lamented the financial resourcing silos, making multi-institutional decisions difficult if not impossible. There was a distinct feeling of despair as to this latter issue—how do you manage the different imperatives of different ministries provincially, to say nothing of the myriad of funding agencies nationally? As one individual stated, “libraries have great ideas but they never realize them.”

Despite the difficulties, petitioners provided numerous examples of collaborative activity within the Province of Alberta—collaborative activity that would harmonize the disparity of the larger institutions and the smaller. Commentators looked with fondness at the activities in other provinces, most particularly the ‘Scholar’s Portal’ in Ontario. There was discussion as to the possibilities of making the ‘Scholar’s Portal’ a national platform. At the national level, it was suggested that Library and Archives Canada abandon AMICUS and look to other solutions, such as OCLC ‘Worldcat’ as a union catalogue solution for ILL and other collaborative activities, including collection rationalization. There was other commentary with regard to LAC, including the possibility of creating a new advisory body that would include a diverse pan-Canadian  membership including libraries/archives, representative associations, and library/archival leaders.

Another issue common to all groups represented was, and yet again (this issue is appeared at several of our previous consultations) that of effective communication and advocacy. It was suggested that some library organizations and institutions were more effective than others in having successful communication strategies and advocacy campaigns. The suggestion was raised that these organizations might be more generous in helping less effective institutions or organizations in their efforts.  Sharing strategies, coaching and mentoring as well as workshops or seminars were suggested as best means to a common end.

Also, two other issues similar to other consultations were identified. There was support for more “value” or “return” on investment studies. Some jurisdictions were applauded for their efforts in this regard—the Toronto Public Library was mentioned specifically. Also, there was commentary on the LIS and Technician programs and their apparent inability to provide needed “skill sets.” Employers, however, were not without criticism.  Several practitioners pointed out that their employers were not providing investment in their professional staff cohorts.  Ongoing periodic credentialing was discussed as a strategy.

Finally, the Calgary consultation provided a particularly fertile interchange on the provision of library services to aboriginal populations—whether urban or rural. We heard stories of discrimination and racism—all relating to library service. We heard stories of young people being passed through grades, without demonstrated competencies including reading. Similarly we heard about the successes and the aspirations of the aboriginal communities—first nation communities coming together to talk about library services– and the hopes of various jurisdictions in making their aspirations achievable.

We thank those who took the time to come and speak with us in Calgary.

Consultation de Montréal

Groupe d’experts de la Société royale du Canada

L’avenir des bibliothèques et des institutions d’archives au Canada

Consultation de Montréal tenue le jeudi 24 octobre 2013 de 16h00 à 18h00

Université de Montréal, salle M-415

Principaux sujets relatifs aux archives qui ont été abordés pendant cette consultation

1- Les particularités que présente le regroupement des archivistes au Québec

Alors qu’ailleurs au Canada, les institutions d’archives et les archivistes sont généralement regroupés dans une seule entité juridique, au Québec, il existe deux grands regroupements, soit l’Association des archivistes du Québec (AAQ) et le Réseau des services d’archives du Québec (RAQ).  L’AAQ regroupe principalement des personnes même si elle compte quelques membres institutionnels alors que le RAQ est un regroupement d’institutions.

L’AAQ (http://www.archivistes.qc.ca/) compte plus de 650 membres et se définit comme étant « une association au service de la communauté archivistique ». Créée en 1967, elle regroupe les personnes qui œuvrent au sein des organismes publics et privés afin d’assurer une saine gestion des documents et des archives. L’AAQ réunit les archivistes du Québec et de la communauté francophone du Canada. Dans le milieu archivistique canadien, l’AAQ participe aux activités du Conseil canadien des archives (CCA). Elle participe aussi aux activités du Conseil international des archives (ICA) et, de façon plus particulière, à la section des associations professionnelles (SPA).

Le RAQ (http://archivisteraq.com/membres/membres-du-raq/) quant à lui a été créé en 1986 dans la foulée de la mise en place du Conseil canadien des archives (CCA). Il regroupe 140 services d’archives qui se trouvent dans toutes les régions du Québec et qui œuvrent dans toutes les sphères d’activités incluant notamment les secteurs gouvernemental, religieux, privé, de l’éducation, municipal, muséal et des sociétés historiques. Si le mandat de chacun des organismes membres et les ressources mises à leur disposition varient beaucoup de l’un à l’autre, ils ont tous en commun de préserver, de mettre en valeur et de rendre accessible le patrimoine archivistique des Québécois et des Québécoises.

2- La mission de diffusion des archives

Un intervenant a rappelé une des missions fondamentales de l’archiviste, soit la diffusion, ce qui est maintenant reconnu dans la profession. Bien sûr, le rôle plus traditionnel de l’archiviste est de préserver les archives qui présentent une valeur patrimoniale de témoignage pour la société, mais la préservation des archives n’est pas une fin en soi. Si on conserve des archives, c’est pour les rendre accessibles aux chercheurs et aux citoyens les informations. Et cela est d’autant plus vrai dans une société où les technologies de l’information et de la communication (TIC) offrent des possibilités pratiquement illimitées pour diffuser et rendre accessible les archives nées numériques ou les archives analogiques une fois qu’elles ont été numérisées.

3- La formation des archivistes

On se réjouit de la présence de programmes de formation en archivistique de plus en plus nombreux au Québec. On a insisté aussi à plusieurs reprises sur le caractère essentiel que revêt cette formation pour la préparation d’une relève de qualité.  Comme cela a souvent été mentionné ailleurs au Canada dans le cadre de cette consultation, on a souligné qu’il fallait que les programmes de formation préparent davantage à la gestion dans un contexte d’un plus grand leadership appliqué aux activités quotidiennes des archivistes. On a aussi noté les transformations que ne manquent pas de provoquer les TIC dans les programmes de formation. Un intervenant a beaucoup insisté sur le caractère « transdisciplinaire » que devraient privilégier les programmes de formations en archivistique, sur les liens serrés qui doivent exister entre le fondamental et l’appliqué et entre l’enseignement de niveau universitaire et la recherche qui se doit de fonder cet enseignement. On a insisté pour que la Société royale du Canada reconnaisse l’importance de la discipline que constitue l’archivistique.

4- L’annulation par BAC du Programme national de développement des archives (PNDA)

La disparition du PNDA a été évoquée par plusieurs participants comme ce fut le cas ailleurs au Canada. On a insisté sur le fait que ce fut une décision de BAC qui devrait pourtant être une institution qui travaille pour améliorer sans cesse la situation de la préservation et de l’accessibilité des archives au Canada. Il ne fait plus de doute pour personne qu’en abolissant le PNDA, BAC a tout simplement réduit à néant le réseau canadien des archives qui avait été mis en place au milieu des années 1980 à la faveur de la création du CCA. Tous sont bien conscients du temps qu’il faudra pour reconstruire un tel réseau quelle qu’en soit la forme.

5- L’importance d’un système archivistique canadien fort

Plusieurs participants ont mentionné le caractère essentiel de pouvoir compter à nouveau sur un système archivistique canadien fort. Et dans ce cadre, on se saurait trop insister sur le leadership dont doit faire preuve BAC. Or, depuis quelques années, à la suite d’une série de décisions discutables qu’a prises cette institution, il est maintenant clair que BAC n’est plus cette grande institution qu’elle était devenue au plan national et international. Et c’est l’ensemble des citoyens canadiens et en particulier les chercheurs de tous les horizons ainsi que toute la communauté archivistique qui souffrent de cette situation.

6- Les déceptions d’un citoyen qui s’est défini comme une « consommateur » des services de BAC

Un professeur d’histoire de l’Université Concordia a témoigné de son désabusement face à la réduction sensible des services qu’offre BAC en disant : « qu’il a vécu des jours plus agréables dans cette institution ». Il a mentionné que malgré les efforts qu’a investis BAC pour numériser des masses importantes de documents d’archives, il s’en est suivie une dégradation notable des services et une augmentation importante des archives non traitées donc inaccessibles aux chercheurs. Alors que la « modernisation », souvent citée par les autorités de BAC, aurait dû améliorer de façon importante les services offerts au public, la diminution du nombre d’archivistes jumelée à cette soit disant « modernisation » ont fait qu’il est maintenant plus difficile d’avoir accès à l’information. Il n’a pas hésité à qualifier cette situation « d’échec complet ». L’on se souviendra que ce constat d’échec de BAC a été fait à plusieurs reprises au cours des autres consultations menées ailleurs au Canada.

Carol Couture
27 octobre 2013