Sunday, April 28, 2013

LAC issues a report on itself

Late Friday afternoon, on April the 26th, the LAC put on its website a report entitled Library and Archives Canada makes Canada’s documentary heritage more accessible than ever.

Through this report, it expresses how the LAC is helping Canadians to access their heritage through different programs that have been instituted by the LAC.

For instance, it says that “To this end, LAC has developed a suite of tools that have efficiently contributed to this unparalleled access to Canada’s heritage. In fact, Canadians showed great interest in accessing LAC’s collections on their computer screens and handheld devices, as observed by the popularity of its Flickr sets (over 350,000 views), its podcasts (over 149,000 listens) and the size of the readership of its blog (over 63,000 views). In addition to these new tools, LAC’s website receives an average of 500,000 visits monthly. The popularity of these channels, enabled by modern technology, demonstrates how promising LAC’s approach is in reaching Canadians, regardless of where they live”.

So what do you think? Is the LAC fulfilling its mandate?

To read the full report, go to


Denise Baker said...

Well, I would rather borrow some of the microfilm by inter-library loan rather than drive or fly from Edmonton to access these items. So I'm not accessing as much as I would like!

But spin doctors can spin anything.

Elizabeth Lapointe said...

Hi, Denise,

You may want to read tomorrow's Canadian Week in Review which highlight's one of the blogs which talks about the release of the 1921Canada Census in June by the LAC.

Doesn't sound all that encourging.


Chris Paton said...

I've been attending the Democratising or Privileging conference in Dundee, Scotland, last few days, which had a few Canadian archivists in attendance and giving talks. From what I've been hearing at this, there's a bit of a disconnect to what the archivists themselves are expressing as the reality - it does sound as if LAC could win some awards for creative writing though...!

M. Diane Rogers said...

Mmmm...offhand my answer has to be 'Nope!'

The report talks more about the travelling exhibitions - which LAC has been doing for years, hasn't it? Even opportunities to interact on-line with these isn't being developed in any real way.

There's nothing like seeing the 'real thing' though and these exhibits need to be going all across the country. Many of us in the west (and likely the east and the north) feel these don't travel widely enough and that perhaps the conditions to host an exhibition are not flexible or affordable enough.

As to LAC's development of on-line tools, I'm not quite sure what's meant. (Do they mean each historical index is a tool? Do they mean the makeshift 'microfilm digitization'?) Some badly needed homegrown tools, like Inter-Library Loan, have in fact been cut.

And I think many/most of us reading LAC's blog are looking and then asking and asking for answers and clarification! See the 1921 Census post for an example.

LAC's use of outside on-line opportunities, like adding a few photo collections to Flickr, is a good start. Many, many archives are doing this - and often on a broader scale, of course, integrating their collections into on-line exhibitions and projects.

As to what's on LAC itself, genealogically speaking, I was at a seminar yesterday and the comments on the quality of some more recent initiatives, like online 'microform digitization', were very negative. Not to mention the 'archiving' of many great older exhibits, like 'Moving Here, Staying Here' which the great Google can hardly even find now, let along the ordinary LAC patron.

I cannnot help but feel sad (and sometimes mad) at what most often seem to be backward steps taken by LAC. And the time, money and trained experienced staff needed to regroup and move ahead at LAC seem to be slipping away.