Connie Crosby, President of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL), has written a letter to The Honourable Judy M. Foote, Minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada, explaining the many concerns law librarians have about the idea of discontinuing the paper publication of the annual Statutes of Canada.
The letter is in response to a CBC News report that the federal government might consider changes to legislation that requires that Canada’s annual laws be made available in print.
In her letter, Crosby calls on the government to take care before any move to a digital-only policy, in particular when it comes to long-term access and preservation:
“Work with the Library and Archives Canada (LAC)—to ensure any electronic-only publications meet preservation requirements and are captured accurately and completely for future reference. Until that time, if a whole program of printing is not possible, perhaps a limited run of paper volumes printed in a different format and given to selected key repositories—such as LAC and the Library of Parliament— would be an interim solution until a more informed decision can be made. Although the government seems to fall back on the digital archiving that Library and Archives Canada is doing, please note LAC itself has gone through massive budget cuts resulting in constraints on what they are actually able to accomplish (…)
“If the government continues on the path towards ‘digital only’ publication of the Statutes of Canada, we would encourage you to REPLACE the Publication of Statutes Act with a comprehensive plan that considers:
- maintaining a small print run for long-term preservation purposes;
- the future of the Canada Gazette, and in particular the Canada Gazette Part Three which provides our only official online version of annual statutes, as well as the helpful Table of Proclamations;
- the future of the Table of Public Statutes. This Table was published as a stationary publication in the Statutes of Canada each year. The online version on Justice Laws is not sustainable in its current format – an annual archived version could be contemplated;
- what will be the official version of our Statutes of Canada moving forward in a digital age?
- a way to maintain the side-by-side, English/French comparison, which can be an important part of some statutory interpretation exercises, while still meeting accessibility requirements.”