Library and Archives Canada (LAC) international activities under SRIA’s lead include:
- coordinating requests from foreign institutions that seek to collaborate or establish institutional ties; and
- supporting the office of the Librarian and Archivist of Canada participating at international committees or events, coordinating VIP visits, providing logistical support to host documentary heritage related international events at LAC, and advancing Canada’s foreign policy objective through cultural diplomacy.
Foreign Requests and VIP Visits
LAC receives requests for visits and collaboration from foreign national libraries and archives, departments of foreign governments (sometimes through Global Affairs Canada [GAC]), and diplomats based in Ottawa. Although LAC welcomes multiple foreign delegates every year, SRIA is typically only involved in organizing VIP visits linked to formal and informal invitations from the Librarian and Archivist of Canada.
Strategic engagement with international foreign library and archival institutions support LAC to advance strategic issues, transfer knowledge and share best practices through informal collaboration or by means of a formal agreement. During international visits in recent years, the inclusion of a productive business meeting for a mutual exchange with LAC experts benefits LAC in developing and maintaining long-term relationships with foreign cultural heritage memory institutions without necessarily requiring the signature of a formal agreement.
Engagement in international networks enables LAC to represent the perspectives of the Canadian library and archival communities on the international scene, share information and facilitate connections with national and international partners and stakeholders, as well as help identify and contribute toward innovative solutions to complex issues. LAC participates as a member of several international associations and committees where LAC officials have elected representatives as chairs or executive members: International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), International Council on Archives (ICA), International Internet Preservation Consortium (IIPC) and the Réseau Francophone Numérique (RFN). (For more information on LAC international participation see Annex A.)
LAC supports the Government of Canada’s international policy priorities, which includes using cultural diplomacy to enhance Canada’s visibility abroad. LAC looks for opportunities to establish strategic links through its international activities alongside those of GAC, Canadian Heritage (PCH), and other organizations within the PCH portfolio, where possible.
SRIA works closely with GAC and Canadian diplomatic missions to increase LAC’s visibility when attending international conferences. LAC also engages with our National Museums to identify potential collaborations that highlight Canada’s professional expertise and collections internationally. This increased engagement amongst federal heritage and cultural institutions led LAC to co-host with GAC a successful panel discussion on cultural diplomacy in March 2019. The discussion underlined the important role and contribution of Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAMs) towards cultural diplomacy and how GLAMs build medium and long-term relationships that help support Canada’s foreign policy objectives.
Strategic International Collaborations:
LAC can develop an approach to identify foreign partners with whom the organization can benefit from closer collaboration. Internal consultation with various LAC branches would help identify priority institutional needs and gaps for which foreign partners may have technical knowledge or solutions. LAC could then use this information to initiate preliminary discussion with foreign counterparts during VIP visits, in responding to foreign requests, and when it engages internationally at various conferences. LAC can ensure this approach aligns with objectives outlines in its International Relations Strategy 2016-2020 (see Annex B for the International Relations Strategy 2016-2020).
LAC presently contributes towards two PCH international initiatives to advance mutual objectives:
- Canada-China Joint Committee on Culture through the LAC agreement with the National Library of China (2016-2021); and
- Canada is the Guest of Honour country at the 2020 Frankfurt Book Fair with three LAC initiatives. This collaboration helps increase visibility of both LAC and Canada abroad. LAC should seek future collaboration with PCH and continue discussions with Canada’s national museums to identify potential synergies and joint collaborations to support international cultural diplomacy initiatives.
Following recommendations outlined in the June 2019 Senate study, Cultural Diplomacy at the Front Stage of Canada’s Foreign Policy, LAC should continue to collaborate with GAC to mutually advance Canada’s foreign policy priorities and LAC’s corporate priorities. (See Annex C to consult the Senate Report). LAC should ensure its roles and responsibilities are clearly identified in GAC’s potential upcoming strategic policy framework on cultural diplomacy (Recommendation 4).
LAC will update its International Relations Strategy 2016-2020 and develop an action plan that reflects recommendations from the Senate report, PCH and portfolio collaborations, as well as GAC priorities. This will ensure that LAC is in a good position to support broader Government of Canada foreign policy objectives when mandates align.
Loïc Dumas, Senior Analyst, SRIA
Francesco Manganiello Director, SRIA
Annex A: International Networks
Executive members: LAC staff elected as executive members of international committees and associations include: Normand Charbonneau, Vice-President of ICA Executive Board (2018-2022); and Sylvain Bélanger, International Internet Preservation Consortium (IIPC) Treasurer (2016-2020).
Executive members with terms ending in 2019: Guy Berthiaume 1) RFN Vice-President; 2) President of ICA North America Archival Network (NAANICA); and 3) Chair of IFLA Standing Committee — National Libraries Section; Diane Beattie, Chair of IFLA Standing Committee on Standards.
Elected members: Other active LAC staff at IFLA include: 1) Francesco Manganiello, member of the IFLA Standing Committee, National Libraries Section (2019-2023); 2) Sarah Stacy, corresponding member of the Bibliography Section's Standing Committee (2017-2021); 3) William Leonard, member of the Cataloguing Section Standing Committee (2017-2021); and 4) Claire Banton, Local History and Genealogy Section Standing Committee (2017-2021). LAC’s Deputy Librarian and Archivist of Canada and colleagues in the Operations Sector are also active internationally as elected members of several international associations, through direct interactions with foreign documentary heritage institutions, and planning and hosting VIP visits, business meetings and exchanges.
SRIA leverages LAC Deputy Head participation at IFLA and ICA to meet in person with foreign documentary heritage organizations to establish and maintain meaningful long-term relations. This serves to 1) identify collaboration projects in the context of existing agreements; 2) proactively seek new collaborations in areas of mutual interest; and 3) establish initial contact with foreign partners (without previous LAC institutional ties) to determine expectations.
To help plan a coordinated Canadian presence at key international annual conferences, SRIA organizes an annual conference call with Stakeholders’ Forum members for the IFLA (August) and ICA (October) conferences.
Annex B: International Relations Strategy 2016-2020
Annex C: Senate Report