The Youth Advisory Council (YAC) was launched as a pilot project in September 2018 to help integrate the youth perspective into Library and Archives Canada (LAC) decision making.
Following the success of the pilot project, the YAC has been established as a permanent advisory group and the next cohort in the National Capital Region (NCR) will run from September 2019 to June 2020.
The YAC is composed of 20 members aged 19 to 25 and living in the NCR who meet monthly to brainstorm, and provide ideas, advice and feedback on a variety of issues.
To promote a free flowing exchange of ideas and opinions, YAC meetings are kept informal, with focus on discussion and interactive activities rather than formal presentations. A “What We Heard” report is created following each meeting for circulation within LAC and among YAC members.
The topics discussed at YAC are selected based on YAC members’ interests and LAC priorities, focusing on issues that lead to meaningful change in the short and long term (see Annex for an overview of accomplishments in 2018-2019).
Senior management representation is included at every meeting, and the Librarian and Archivist of Canada attends as appropriate and when available—at minimum, the first and last meetings in addition to one meeting at the mid-point.
The YAC was launched with the aim of starting small with the ability to expand in future years. As such, there is a lot of potential for the YAC to grow and evolve to respond to new priorities and opportunities at LAC.
Vancouver YAC: While overall reaction to the YAC has been positive, some stakeholders and members of the public have expressed concern that participation in the YAC is currently limited to the NCR. To counterbalance this, several members of the NCR YAC have previous experience living/working/studying in other regions.
Work is currently underway to expand the YAC in 2019-2020 with a pilot project based in LAC’s office in Vancouver that would provide a non-NCR youth perspective on the issues discussed. This project will launch in early 2020.
Focus: So far, the YAC has focused on providing tangible, concrete input into projects led by LAC, such as brainstorming ideas for the joint facility with Ottawa Public Library (OPL) and providing feedback on the 2019 Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAM) Summit. This has been effective and brought about several useful changes (See Annex A).
- In future, LAC may wish to explore YAC members’ perspectives on longer term, higher-level issues or YAC-led initiatives (e.g. development of an LAC youth strategy, public event or exhibition by YAC members). Proposals can be provided in the coming months.
- In the longer term, LAC will be well positioned to leverage the networks created through the YACs in Vancouver and the NCR, as well as existing networks (e.g. with stakeholders and other government departments) to consult with youth more broadly across Canada on strategic issues of interest to LAC.
Integration into other areas of LAC: LAC is host to various councils and groups (e.g. Stakeholders’ Forum, Indigenous Advisory Circle and other advisory councils, external councils, internal management committees) that act as important forums for LAC and key stakeholders to discuss issues of importance to LAC and the documentary. heritage community at large. Having YAC members take part in these meetings could enrich these discussions by allowing LAC and our stakeholders/partners to hear youth perspectives on these important issues, and simultaneously enrich YAC members’ understanding of LAC and the documentary heritage landscape.
LAC could consider adding YAC member(s) to LAC’s Stakeholders’ Forum to ensure youth perspectives/insights are heard in discussions relating to LAC and documentary heritage organizations/associations strategic, policy and operational activities.
Stakeholder Relations and International Affairs (SRIA) could also work with the Chairs of LAC’s other advisory committees to identify the most suitable fit for YAC member(s).
Heather Husby-Wall, Analyst, Stakeholder Relations and International Affairs (SRIA)
Francesco Manganiello, Director, SRIA
Annex A: An Overview of Accomplishments 2018-2019
YAC members were influential to LAC operations, and their ideas sparked change, such as the following:
- Collection Search and Co-Lab priorities, as voted on by YAC members, are planned for 2019-2020 including building PDF and audio-visual capability.
- The GLAM Summit III (May 2018) included a cocktail networking session, livestreaming, increased social media, and panelists based on YAC member recommendations (e.g., Ubisoft and Moment Factory).
- A YAC member has been added to the Services Consultation Committee.
- Paper signage at 395 Wellington Street has been laminated and improved signage is expected shortly.
- YAC members had a private consultation session with the consultants for the future LAC-Ottawa Public Library joint facility and voiced their suggestions for the new facility.
- LAC’s DigiLab will connect with Co-Lab to promote to student associations and related groups.
- YAC members challenged LAC to think about why it wants to collect new media, such as podcasts and video games, and suggested a few Canadian sources to begin LAC’s research.
Youth council members also influenced changes in the council itself, notably:
- Recruitment strategies for the YAC were expanded and improved, resulting in a 46% increase in applications (73 applications in 2019 up from 50 applications in 2018).
- A facilitators guide was developed to advise guest speakers on how to best present information and guide meeting discussions.