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October 17, 2014

On Monday, September 29, 2014 CLA Executive Council had the pleasure of meeting with the new Librarian and Archivist of Canada, Dr. Guy Berthiaume, and several of Library and Archives Canada’s (LAC) senior staff including:

Lucie Séguin, Acting Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy and Collaboration and Executive Secretariat
Cecilia Muir, Chief Operating Officer
Paul Wagner, Chief Innovation and Information Officer
Renee Harden, Director General, Communications
Christopher Kitzan, Chief of Staff
Hilary Morgan, Director, Stakeholder Relations and International Affairs

Dr. Berthiaume started the meeting by outlining the five priorities for LAC for the 2013-2016 Business Plan:

  1. Acquire information resources that represent Canadian society
  2. Improve documentary heritage preservation in analogue and digital formats
  3. Improve access to and distribution of content with digital technologies
  4. Adopt a more collaborative approach to carry out the mandate and support documentary heritage communities
  5. Develop the infrastructure and the new competencies required to ensure documentary heritage management in the 21st century

Dr. Berthiaume also outlined a series of four commitments that describe the way that LAC will go about delivering on the priorities. The commitments also communicate to library and archival stakeholders what they can expect from LAC,

  1. Serving clients. Whether those clients are researchers, faculty, donors, students or the general public, LAC wants to provide excellence in service.
  2. To be on the leading edge of archival and library science and new technology; this will be achieved by investing and believing in their staff (including their attendance at conferences and events where they can highlight their work).
  3. To be proactively engaged with national and international networks; Dr. Berthiaume believes that they don’t always have to chair committees, but that it is equally important for them to listen and respond with understanding.
  4. To become an institution with greater visibility, in particular to use the space at 395 Wellington for exhibits, meetings, conferences. They do not want to be Canada’s best kept secret.

He commented that LAC has had many visions in the past; moving forward, he seeks to bring stability. The floor was then opened up for questions from Executive Council. Among the topics we discussed were:

  • LAC’s plans for Canada 2017 were discussed, and it was noted that this work may provide opportunities for possible collaboration with the library and archival communities nationally. Travelling exhibitions are planned; Dr. Berthiaume indicated our involvement would be welcomed.
  • The status of the Trusted Digital Repository certification was discussed. Paul Wagner, CIO, reported that it is well underway and on track for the 2017 completion goal. He explained the phases of testing they were going through in order to scale up to full implementation.
  • Web-harvesting activities to capture born-digital material is an area of increased priority for the CIO. Mr. Wagner will be standing as President of the International Internet Preservation Consortium in 2015. This is promising in terms of delivering on the commitment to being on the leading edge of technology for Canada!
  • Asked about the status of central support for RDA implementation for English speaking Canada, Cecilia Muir was able to confirm that LAC has the capacity and ability to provide leadership in implementation, and that this was something to which they are committed. Ms. Muir also confirmed that the loans to institutions program, which was modelled on the Library of Congress Lender of Last Resort program, was implemented in the fall of 2013, and has been running successfully since that time with over 200 items being loaned so far.
  • Concerns regarding procurement of a new National Union Catalogue were aired, and noted. The process is still underway, and for this reason, there is little that LAC is able to discuss in detail, but understanding of the concerns regarding cost for access and ownership of records are fully acknowledged as important areas that will be given major consideration throughout the process. Once LAC is in a position to move onto further developing detailed functional requirements with the service provider, the library community will be consulted extensively.
  • Finally, discussion of federal government departmental library closures in the media took place. We learned about processes that were undertaken as a result of decisions to close or rationalize libraries after the 2012 budget reductions that affected all Government of Canada departments. Ms. Muir explained the regulatory instrument that is in force (e.g., Multi-institutional disposition authorities), and must be followed by all federal departments to ensure that all federal documents are responsibly managed during any federal library transition – including, transfer to LAC when appropriate. In addition to this authority, LAC has also issued guidance to federal libraries on managing library closures or reductions, and when warranted or asked, will go onsite to these departments.

All in all, the meeting was very positive and hopeful in tone. Dr. Berthiaume assured us that he intends to ensure that LAC staff and librarians play a key role in the CLA Conference in 2015. We look forward to providing a platform to share these exciting developments with the membership in a wider context. Truly, a renewed energy has arrived at LAC and we look forward to seeing the flavour of Dr. Berthiuame’s commitments contribute to LAC’s role in the everyday life of Canadians.


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