Days of Action for Federal Libraries and Archives

Earlier this month I posted a bit on that week’s news of funding cuts to the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and the National Archival Development Program (NADP). This week brings further developments on that issue.

On Monday this week, Canadian archivists led the Archivists’ On to Ottawa Trek Day of Action:

On April 30, 2012, the National Archival Development Program (NADP) was eliminated. Surplus notices were sent to Library and Archives Canada (LAC) to ultimately reduce its staff by 20%. Libraries and archives in the Transport, Immigration, and Public Works departments were unilaterally shut down.

On May 28, join us in the Archivists’ On to Ottawa Trek. Like our forebears in the 1935 On to Ottawa Trek, who protested government mismanagement during the Great Depression, angry archivists and our allies from coast to coast will descend on Ottawa (and other locations across the country). We will be heard.

The Day of Action’s schedule around Parliament Hill and the LAC included a symbolic funeral to commemorate lost funding. Speakers included a representative of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, opposition MPs, and university archivists, including Lara Wilson, Chair of the Canadian Council of Archives and University Archivist here at UVic.

Along with Nancy Marrelli, Archivist Emerita of Concordia University, Lara also participated in a discussion of the archivists’ concerns on CBC’s Sunday Edition of the preceding day. I commend that clip for a clear explanation of the importance of the NADP and LAC, and also for their excellent illumination of what archives and archivists actually do.

CBC.ca covered the event itself but, significantly, also yesterday published a concrete example of an outcome of the NADP cuts in Prince Edward Island, where the loss of federal funding translated into the elimination of a solo archivist position of modest salary.

Recent federal cuts have left P.E.I. without an archives and preservation expert, and that could have a big impact on the Island’s artifacts.

The Archives Council of P.E.I. received $41,000 in federal funding from the National Archival Development Program.

That money was used to pay the Island’s only archives and preservation expert, Clair Trainor, but now she has been let go because of cuts.

Others will be participating in another, quieter day of action on Thursday. Several librarians, archivists, and researchers have coordinated efforts to respond to cuts to LAC and NADP funding by organizing a white shirt/black ribbon campaign for Thursday, May 31. Invitations to participate and calls for support are circulating on various lists, networks, and websites. Should you notice black ribbons or an unusually high number of white shirts on Thursday, I’d expect you’ll be witnessing solidarity in support of federal library and archives programs.

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  1. Note: I corrected the text above to properly identify Nancy Marrelli, Archivist Emerita of Concordia University. My apologies to Ms. Marrelli for my initial error.