LAC responds to the Royal Society of Canada’s report on the state and future of libraries and archives in Canada

Following the publication of the report, The Future Now: Canada’s Libraries, Archives, and Public Memory, by the Royal Society of Canada in November 2014, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has committed to conducting a study of the document and its recommendations.

In addition to reviewing the report extensively, LAC has sought the opinions of the Stakeholders Forum, a consultative body that brings together 12 of Canada’s largest documentary heritage institutions.

As a result of these efforts, LAC is presenting its response to the recommendations in Chapter 2, Section A of the report which focus exclusively on LAC.

  • LAC's Response

    RECOMMENDATION 1: Library and Archives Canada (LAC) should develop a five-year strategic plan in consultation with all relevant stakeholders.

    Government of Canada departments develop three-year plans to communicate directly with Canadians. As our current plan is coming to an end, we will apply the recommendation of the Expert Panel, and we will consult with our clients and our stakeholders in designing our 2016–2019 plan.

    RECOMMENDATION 2: LAC should participate actively in Canada’s library and archival associations and, to this end, develop a regular schedule for working with these organizations.

    LAC completely agrees with this recommendation. Since 2013–2014, we have been in regular contact with Canada’s library and archival associations. We have attended several of their board of directors meetings and have addressed the major issues facing us. We also participate in the strategic discussions that motivate these communities, including the work of the Canadian Archives System Working Group.

    In 2014, we re-established a mechanism allowing us to maintain dialogue with stakeholders: the Stakeholders Forum. This Forum met last in December, and will continue to meet three times annually. The Forum brings together library and archival associations and other partners for early discussion of LAC priorities and directions, and to systematically explore avenues of collaboration.

    Moreover, LAC employees regularly attend library and archival association meetings as both presenters and participants. For example, we are currently working closely with the Canadian Library Association to prepare for its upcoming Ottawa conference this June.

    RECOMMENDATION 3: LAC should address the problem of employee morale.

    In 2013, the Government of Canada launched a government-wide renewal process based on a desire to create a world-class Public Service for Canada. All federal employees were invited to take part in this exercise and to consider how this aspiration could be realized within their department or work unit.

    LAC established an employee-led working group to discuss the institution’s future, to plan new projects and, above all, to renew employees’ pride in our mandate. Discussions were held between management and employees to find ways to make LAC more effective, and a better place to work. We have also created mechanisms to enable senior management to solicit direct input from employees, an approach that has greatly improved relations at all levels of the institution.

    Although the situation has improved a great deal recently, we believe that the quality of employee morale is a subject that must remain continually at the heart of our concerns.

    RECOMMENDATION 4: LAC should focus its efforts toward harmonizing library and archival cultures.

    We are proud to have successfully merged the National Library and National Archives of Canada into a single institution. We are confident that this union improves access to our collections and that the combined expertise of our library and archival employees means better services for Canadians.

    Of course, the merger of two major institutions such as the National Library and National Archives introduced a number of challenges with regard to administration, management, processes and technology, as well as issues of organizational culture.

    However, while the principles, practices and professional cultures of library and archival employees are different, they are also complementary. LAC will therefore continue to draw on the strengths of its two professional cultures and will respect their distinctiveness while striving to improve efficiency.

    RECOMMENDATION 5: LAC should reassert Canada’s role in international library and archival communities.

    By being part of international library and archival networks, LAC is in a better position to build on global best practices and to effectively fulfill its mandate, while promoting Canada’s expertise abroad. Using our available resources, we will therefore foster LAC’s visibility and maximize Canada’s presence in international networks, in compliance with Government of Canada policies.

    LAC is an active member of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and the International Council on Archives, and it encourages its employees to become members of committees within these groups. Our institution also contributes to the work of La Francophonie bodies and to UNESCO initiatives. In addition, a LAC executive currently chairs the International Internet Preservation Consortium, and we are continually helping to develop international standards.

    RECOMMENDATION 6: LAC should maintain an ongoing dialogue with Government of Canada decision makers to be fully able to carry out its mandate.

    As an organization within the Canadian Heritage Portfolio, LAC maintains an ongoing dialogue with the Department of Canadian Heritage and with other federal departments (such as the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat) to ensure that it has the necessary flexibility to effectively carry out its mandate.

    LAC also works with its Government of Canada partners to ensure that all Canadians have greater access to their documentary heritage. It plays a lead role in the Open Government initiative, which aims to facilitate access to government information. Lastly, LAC is working to renew all its policies to ensure that the government information entrusted to it is accessible as quickly as possible.

Date modified: