Library and Archives Canada strugglling even before the proposed cuts – a researcher’s testimony.

“Over the past few years, I have conducted research at Archives New Zealand, the
National Archives of the United Kingdom, the National Archives of Australia and
Library and Archives Canada (LAC). Already, LAC was far inferior to these other
institutions in terms of the accessibility of the material in Ottawa, regionally
and on-line.

Access required filing a series of ATIP requests some of which took 18 months to
complete. Only after submitting a series of requests was I able to obtain
critical government information about the shaping of Canada’s immigration
programs in the postwar period. Often, it was through the rich collection of
political papers from key politicians and decision makers that I was able to
develop an accurate picture of how the current immigration system came to be.
Perhaps the most important tool for my research was archivescanada.ca, which
allowed me to search the holdings of smaller institutions and discover records
of relevance. It will be cut as a result of the hit to NADP funding. Many of
the important finding aids at LAC are not available on-line, which means that
researchers aren’t even aware of what is in the LAC collection.

The point of this brief summary is to point out that LAC was already struggling
to meet the needs of researchers prior to the recent cuts. With the cuts
announced last month, the collection at LAC risks becoming further inaccessible
and the critical work of smaller institutions is in jeopardy. Rather than
short-sighted digitization projects, LAC needs committed funds and support and
a vision that truly sees it serving the needs of the country. It already pales
in comparison to other national institutions in providing physical and on-line
access to records in its collection and I worry about the long-term and perhaps
permanent repercussions of the current cutbacks.”

The author of this testimony chose to remain anonymous.

This entry was posted in Graduate History Students in Support of Canada's Archives. Bookmark the permalink.

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