Archivists' On to Ottawa Trek – May 28

03 May 2012 4:58 PM | Danielle Robichaud

On April 30, 2012, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) eliminated the National Archival Development Program (NADP), a $1.7 million contribution program administered for the LAC by the non-profit Canadian Council of Archives (CCA) and distributed to 13 provincial and territorial archives councils to support archival activities locally. Through these councils, NADP funding is on the ground in our 10 provinces and 3 territories, ensuring that Canada's history is preserved in local communities. Canada's archival councils provide support to archives and archivists so that they may better serve all Canadians.

The NADP was a vital component of LAC's legislated responsibility to foster preservation, promotion and access to Canada's documentary heritage. As stated in the Act:

7. The objects of the Library and Archives of Canada are...
(b) to make that heritage known to Canadians and to anyone with an interest in Canada and to facilitate access to it;...
(f) to support the development of the library and archival communities.
8. (1) The Librarian and Archivist may do anything that is conducive to the attainment of the objects of the Library and Archives of Canada, including
(i) provide professional, technical and financial support to those involved in the preservation and promotion of the documentary heritage and in providing access to it;

The elimination of the NADP will result in the collapse of 11 of the 13 provincial and territorial archives councils, councils that support the day-to-day functioning of archives across the country. Many of these councils were forced to suspend operations immediately. Archival institutions that invested precious resources into the preparation of NADP funding applications were forced to suspend projects that had already been approved by the CCA. Countless jobs will now go unfilled. Consequently, archives' mandate to make government transparent, to make information available to citizens, and to preserve records of Canadian culture and society will be greatly diminished.

In addition, the federal government has sent more than 500 surplus notices to Library and Archives Canada, which will ultimately have its staff reduced by 20%. LAC has also cancelled its Inter-Library Loan program; cut reference staff; imposed a "new service model" that requires the public to make an appointment for reference requests; cut library cataloguers by a third; and cut private archivists and media specialists by 35%, which means not only that significant Canadian heritage will not be acquired, but that researchers will not be able to talk to experts who knew their fields as these experts simply won't exist any more. At the same time, the government unilaterally shut down libraries in the Transport, Immigration, and Public Works departments.

The effect of these cuts and closures are absolutely devastating and amount to nothing less than a merciless attack upon the archives community and those who depend on access to archives for their work and study. But these attacks are not isolated; the Conservative government has systematically targeted organizations and institutions that collect, preserve, analyze, and make available information for Canadian citizens. Statistics Canada was previously the target of Tory assaults, as was the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) in Eureka, Nunavut. Statistics Canada was forced to abandon the mandatory long-form census, which was vital for distributing government resources on an equitable basis, while PEARL research was instrumental in collecting data related to global warming. Furthermore, in a time of supposed austerity the Conservative government has allocated an additional $8 million dollars for the Canadian Revenue Agency to target registered charities engaged in political activities.

As archivists, we say "Enough!" We will not allow the federal government and senior management of LAC to compromise, assault, and destroy the Canadian archival network and the heritage that it preserves and makes available. We will not allow ideologues to tear apart the work of generations of archivists. We will not allow archives to fall prey to one-sided cultural wars. We will fight back.

On May 28, join us in the Archivists' On to Ottawa Trek. Like our forebears in the 1935 On to Ottawa Trek who protested government mismanagement during the Great Depression, angry archivists and our allies from coast to coast will descend on Ottawa and other locations across the country on May 28 and we will be heard.

For more information, check out:
Twitter: @ArchivistsTrek
Facebook: Fight the Budget Cuts to the Library and Archives Canada

The Archives Association of Ontario (AAO) is led by a committed community of volunteers from across the province. 

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