“I spent many enjoyable hours at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) in 2010-2011 while researching for my MA thesis on the institutional history of French Canadian scouting in Ottawa. Without the help and knowledge of dedicated archivists, I would not have been able to bring my research to a timely fruition. The second-floor archivists and librarians were available from Monday to Friday on a drop-in-anytime-within-our-daily-hours-basis. They kindly answered my questions and guided me to relevant fonds that I would never have discovered due to the hit-or-miss quality of the LAC web search tool.
Saying that LAC’s clientele is not one to visit the beautiful establishment on Wellington Street is simply not true. First, the welcoming environment of the grandiose lobby and its exhibitions on Canadian culture and historical moments draws people in year round. Young and old, history-minded or not, people of all walks of life, be they tourists or Ottawa locals, can find themselves at home at LAC. Second, the (few) LAC documents that are available online are generally incomplete and have been of little use to me as a researcher who waltzes between the 18th and the 20th centuries. Therefore, I have to question the validity of the claim that digitization is the way of the future. Who determines what gets to be digitized and when? What is the modus operandi for such decisions? Will historians be able to offer input on this important issue? Given the fiscal climate and the creation of a new historical narrative by the present Canadian government, the attack on LAC reeks of political motivations.
I cannot determine the impact of the cuts to LAC on my doctoral dissertation just yet. However, life won’t be the same without access to that amazing interlibrary loan catalogue.”
Émilie Pigeon, PhD Student, Department of History, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, York University.
Send us your testimonies (250-300 words) on how the cuts to Canada’s archives will affect your research and we will attach them to our letter to the Minister: firstname.lastname@example.org