Recently several cuts were announced by Library and Archives Canada (LAC). These cuts will affect the ability of LAC to provide a high level of service to researchers and will affect the public’s ability to access records housed at LAC. Additionally, LAC has announced cuts to programs that support archives throughout Canada, which will affect the ability of these organizations to continue to make Canada’s documentary history accessible.
What do these cuts mean?
Our access to Canada‚Äôs documentary history, as well as its continued preservation, has been put in jeopardy.
How will these cuts affect genealogical researchers?
1. LAC will be reducing their hours, restricting the public’s access to knowledgeable archivists and reference staff, and genealogical inquiries will require appointments.
2. The inter-library loan program will be cancelled as of February 2013. Previously researchers could request that documents be sent to their local library, free of charge. Examples of these documents included microfilms of passenger lists and census records, or published books held in the library collection. The cancellation of this program means that researchers must travel to Ottawa to view these records, or hire a researcher in the Ottawa area to access the records for them.
3. The number of staff employed at LAC is being reduced by approximately 20%. Not only does this mean a reduction in service to researchers, it will also affect LAC’s ability to catalogue books, describe archival collections, and digitize the collection.
4. LAC’s collection mandate is changing. Previously LAC’s role was to preserve Canada’s cultural and historical heritage, but now the focus has shifted to preserving the documents of the federal government. This means that private business records and the documentary history of ordinary Canadians are no longer being actively collected. Already several important pieces of Canada’s Aboriginal and military history have been acquired by private collectors both inside and outside of Canada.
5. Small and medium-sized archives throughout the country have been dependent upon funding administered through LAC. The elimination of this funding puts their ability to preserve their collections at risk. This funding, in the past, has allowed these institutions to properly describe archival records, digitize collections, create archival exhibitions, and hire new archival professionals.
If these changes concern you:
Write a letter to: your MP, the Minister of Canadian Heritage & Official Languages, the Prime Minister, and/or your local newspaper. Outline how these cuts will affect your ability to research and access Canada’s documentary history.
Members of Parliament: