Johanna Smith, Director General of Public Services Branch at Library and Archives Canada (LAC), welcomed the committee members to the second meeting of the Services Consultation Committee (SCC). Ms. Smith presented the afternoon's agenda. The agenda was approved without amendment.
Ms. Smith reviewed the minutes of the December 10, 2015 meeting of the SCC. The SCC members ("Members") approved the minutes without amendment. Members noted that the words "indigenous issues" might be replaced in the future with "engagement with indigenous peoples."
2. The Library and Archives Canada Three-Year Plan
Ms. Smith described LAC's priorities and commitments for 2016-2019 as laid out in its recently published Three-Year Plan, including examples of key initiatives and projects linked to each commitment.
A discussion followed. Members commended LAC's recent new initiatives and highlighted social media and public programming as examples of positive public engagement. Members asked for more detail regarding the National Heritage Digitization Strategy. Ms. Smith explained the context and main points of the Strategy and noted she would send Members additional details (available online). Members inquired about the possibility of LAC funding projects related to the strategy. Ms. Smith indicated that various sources of funding will be explored, and identified the potential funding models listed in the Strategy. Members inquired about the collaboration between LAC and Canadiana.org and the availability of digital material currently found only on the Canadiana website. Ms. Smith explained that material digitized in collaboration with Canadiana will gradually be made available on the LAC website as well, as per the terms of the collaboration.
Takeaways: LAC will send documentation to Members regarding the National Heritage Digitization Strategy.
3. Public Services Branch Update: Highlights from the 2016-2017 Operational Plan
Ms. Smith described the organizational changes that recently took place within LAC's Operations Sector and the positive effect of these changes on the Public Services Branch (PSB). She explained that PSB would be developing its own plan to align with the LAC Three-Year Plan and that it would be shared with Members.
Ms. Smith described the key PSB priorities including the development of an "LAC Digitization Access Lab" at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa, where LAC would facilitate hands-on digitization and metadata projects. Ms. Smith also previewed upcoming LAC exhibitions and projects.
Ms. Smith explained the proposed collaboration between LAC and the Ottawa Public Library (OPL) for a new shared downtown Central Library/LAC building (to replace the public service facilities at 395 Wellington) and gave Members an update on progress and goals. She discussed the vision for LAC to become more accessible by reducing barriers to visitors and creating a more open space for access to services. Ms. Smith gave Members information on upcoming consultations and invited them to participate.
A discussed followed. Members discussed the proposed Digitization Access Lab and noted successes in similar models elsewhere.
The discussion focussed mainly on the potential OPL partnership. Members suggested models for inspiration including the consultative process undertaken by the Halifax Public Library. Some Members applauded the idea, noting some of the service access challenges at 395 Wellington. Members also noted the potential challenges of such partnerships in terms of governance, mandate and ensuring that the unique identity of each institution is maintained. There was a discussion about how research services would be conducted in a different location. Ms. Smith explained that access to materials in a new shared location would maintain core features of the current model at 395 Wellington Street, including considerations around access to restricted government records.
Takeaways: LAC will engage with Members regarding the OPL project and solicit their input at consultation sessions.
4. LAC's National Presence Initiative
Kristina Lillico (Director, Regional Services and Access to Information and Privacy at LAC) gave a presentation on the changes taking place in LAC's service locations outside of the National Capital region. Ms. Lillico explained the historical context for change and the progress on the plans to relocate and offer new services in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Halifax. She explained the current focus is on Vancouver and Halifax. In Halifax, LAC has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 and will be offering expanded public services from within the museum as of January 2017. In Vancouver, LAC is close to finalizing a similar arrangement with a partner in a central, high-profile location. Ms. Lillico described the proposed services for these locations.
Takeaways: LAC will keep Members informed of changes to the public services offered in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Halifax.
5. LAC Access Policies
Éric Lévesque (LAC Senior Policy Advisor) gave a presentation on various policies and policy tools related to access at LAC. He explained the legislative context of LAC's access policies and described the four principles that underlie policy development: discoverability, availability, accessibility and collaboration.
Mr. Lévesque described the ongoing development of two specific policies at LAC related to accessibility for individuals with perceptual disabilities and to standards regarding official languages.
A discussion followed. Members highlighted international examples of crowdsourcing as a means to support accessibility through transcription and translation. Ms. Smith noted that LAC's policies codified a baseline standard, and crowdsourcing would be a potential means of enhancing those standards.
Takeaways: LAC welcomes Member feedback regarding its access policies.
6. LAC Service Strategy
Steven Artelle (PSB Strategic Analyst) gave a presentation regarding the development of a new LAC Service Strategy. Mr. Artelle explained that the Strategy will be aligned with the LAC Three-Year Plan and other major initiatives including the National Presence project and the potential OPL collaboration. The goal of the Strategy is to reposition LAC services so that LAC can proactively reach and impact more Canadians, streamline and reduce barriers to access and do so in a way that is innovative and collaborative. He stated that the final Strategy will be completed and available to the public by the fall of 2016.
Mr. Artelle described the various methods by which LAC is developing the Strategy, including client survey feedback, consultation with LAC employees, and consultation with external stakeholders. He gave an overview of consultations to date and invited Members to contribute their own ideas.
Ms. Smith explained that the Strategy reflects LAC's renewed commitment to public-facing services, emphasizing that LAC will continue to focus on digitization and digital access as well as in-person service excellence at its public locations across Canada and through other channels.
A discussion followed. Members stressed the importance of the quality of the service experience, regardless of channel of delivery. They noted that service must be open, flexible and friendly. Members also noted that local amenities are important for researchers who often spend several days at LAC, remarking specifically that 395 Wellington lacks a cafeteria.
Members suggested that LAC should branch out geographically and interact with Canadians outside of Ottawa. This could include exhibitions, but also targeted acquisition, oral history events, and on-the-road crowdsourcing initiatives.
Members noted that service renewal must be balanced with other access activities including development of finding aids, acquisition processing, and other "upstream" LAC functions that facilitate access.
Takeaways: LAC welcomes input from Members regarding specific strategies or general ideas for the LAC Service Strategy.
Ms. Smith opened the floor for a general discussion.
Members expressed appreciation for the direction LAC has taken on services, access, and engagement.
In the context of LAC's National Presence initiative, Members explained similar approaches to regional offices. Ms. Lillico said she would follow up with them individually to learn more about their regional operations.
Members expressed their desire to see a user profile function for LAC clients. Ms. Smith noted that a project was underway tentatively called "MyLAC" and would put that initiative on the forward agenda.
Members expressed interest in the developments in Vancouver and Ms. Smith promised to keep Members informed. Members also stressed the importance of creating awareness of LAC and its holdings through the web, especially in areas outside of Ottawa.
Members suggested LAC hold informal sessions with clients at 395 Wellington to discuss LAC projects, initiatives and services generally. Ms. Smith expressed interest in this idea.
Benjamin Ellis (Strategic Advisor, PSB) presented suggestions for the forward agenda and invited Members to contribute ideas they would like to see added for future SCC meetings.
- LAC will explore the idea of informal user sessions at 395 Wellington.
- LAC will circulate the forward agenda and ask for additional items.
- LAC will set up the next meeting of the SCC to take place in the late summer or early fall of 2016.