I’d hoped for a happier first post for my return to Slaw, but I do think it’s important to shine the light on the forthcoming reductions to Library and Archives Canada and any broader impact or mirroring of reality. The cuts to the LAC announced in last month’s budget received some media coverage and commentary from interested parties at that time. This coincides with LAC’s announcement of a phased-in shift in the manner in which reference services are handled, to provide service with reduced staff.
This week we learned more precisely the nature of the impact on LAC. According to reports in the Globe and Mail, 235 LAC workers received notice they are “affected” by the cuts, and, specifically, 105 positions are expected to be eliminated; the goal is to eliminate 215 positions. The cuts also reach departmental libraries and archives across the federal public service, some of which are closing altogether.
The Canadian Council of Archives will close its Ottawa office at the end of this week. The chair of the Council, Lara Wilson, who is also University Archivist here at UVic, noted the “impact on archives users, genealogists, scholars, writers across Canada,” in a news report published this morning.
Today, the Canadian Association of University Teachers voiced harsh criticism, saying the cuts “undermine the capacity of Library and Archives Canada to fulfill its legislated mandate to acquire, preserve and make accessible Canada’s history.” These concerns echo those the Canadian Association of Research Libraries voiced in its excellent committee submission in respect of Budget 2012 last August, in which it advocated that then-current funding levels be maintained.
Interesting to me about these measures, and the arguments recited in opposition to them, are the parallels we see in discussions about funding of other libraries: law firm, university, public. In particular, LAC will no longer take walk-in reference requests; these will be by appointment only, and there is a move toward “modernization” in the suggestion, for example, of videoconferencing.
What do others think of the cuts to LAC and departmental libraries and archives, and any possible parallels to libraries in other sectors? New paradigm? Modernization? Necessary austerity? Short-term solution?