Canadian Historical Association: Cuts of Service at Library and Archives Canada - Request for Information on Impacts

From: Craig Heron [cheron@yorku.ca]

As anticipated in the August notice from the Canadian Historical Association, on 1 September 2007 Library and Archives Canada implemented its new regime of greatly reduced hours of service at its main research facility in Ottawa. In August, on behalf of the CHA, I wrote to the national archivist to express our serious concern over these cuts and their potential to gravely impair the capacity of professional historians to research and write the history of Canada. Many other historians and organizations have expressed similar concerns but LAC, which conducted no consultations prior to announcing the cuts in August, has not budged. Nevertheless, we have learned that the public outcry over similar reductions at the U.S. National Archives in Washington D.C. prompted that institution eventually to restore some of its reduced hours of service and we remain hopeful that we can generate a similar reversal at LAC.

To date, we have been advised by CHA members that at least three categories of users will be negatively affected by the LAC cuts in service, including:

  • Historians operating from considerable distances from Ottawa, who indicated that the cuts in hours of service will impose an inordinate burden on their research projects.
  • Graduate students operating on limited budgets, who advised us that the cuts will make many dissertation research projects more difficult.
  • Historians from central Canada, who indicated that the cuts will make it difficult or impossible to carry out short single-day research trips, as retrieval of documents within the same day will no longer be feasible.
There may well be other categories of users whose research will be impeded by the cuts. If so, we want to hear from you as the CHA is now compiling data to document the impacts of the cuts on practitioners. We urge you to share your stories of impacts on your research projects, or expected impacts if you have not yet carried out LAC research since the cuts. We will soon seek to arrange a meeting with the national archivist in Ottawa to discuss the reductions in LAC's hours of service. In preparation for that meeting, it would help our cause greatly if our members and other researchers would share with me actual examples of difficulties occasioned by the cuts in service. I assure you that confidentiality of correspondence will be carefully respected and no names of correspondents will be divulged in the course of our reporting on these matters. Please write to me at my e-mail address: Craig Heron <cheron@yorku.ca> I look forward to hearing from you.

Craig Heron
Canadian Historical Association

No comments: