While Thursday evening was a time of great relaxation (good food, storytelling in the Lady Slipper courtyard, a long walk around Wascana lake, and ice cream outside of the Leg’), Friday was a day that began and continued at a higher pitch of activity. From the outset, we were, of course, prepared for but anxious about our poster presentation which would be taking place at 10:00 that morning. But before that, breakfast, and the plenary.
The 9:00 plenary on Friday June 12 was delivered by Dr. Guy Berthiaume of Library and Archives Canada. Following the massive hits LAC has taken over the past few years, this talk seemed aimed at reassuring the audience that the organization is back on track, with new initiatives that will help revitalize documentary heritage in Canada.
Two of these initiatives involve nation-wide collaborative efforts, both in the realm of acquisitions and, as was previously mentioned in Paul Wagner’s talk, digitization. LAC hopes to institute stronger collaborative methodologies in order to ensure that a) there is some national consistency in who is preserving what, and b) archives and special collections are not constantly duplicating work on the digitization front. Dr. Berthiaume admitted that Canada is lagging behind most other nations in our digitization work, and so this is one area in which LAC will be putting a great deal of effort in the coming years.
After speaking a bit on his goal to make government records more accessible, LAC’s partnership with ancestry.ca, and the fact that LAC has both a flickr and youtube channel, Berthiaume “dropped the mic” (as the kids say).
The moment in Berthiaume’s talk that caused the room to swell with murmurs and Twitter to explode with anticipation was the announcement of the Documentary Heritage Communities Program (DHCP). After years under a spending freeze, the LAC is now offering a unique opportunity for incorporated and non-incorporated non-profit associations/organizations (specifically local archival and library communities) to increase their capacity to preserve, provide access to and promote local documentary heritage. This will take the form of a variety of financial contributions which will support projects which increase access to, and awareness of Canada’s local documentary institutions and their holdings; an increase the capacity of local documentary heritage institutions to better sustain and preserve Canada’s documentary heritage.
Although our own University Archives and Special Collections is not eligible for this particular source of funding, it is great to see LAC back on their feet and taking steps in a direction that will help hundreds of smaller institutions.
Another interesting idea that came out of the Q&A session after the talk was the notion that we should remember with caution that what we digitize has an inadvertent effect on what people research. Researchers will tend to look for what is online first (for reasons of ease of access, funding, etc.), and so it is necessary that what we put up online reflects an accurate representation of our holdings.
Next post: THE POSTER SESSION
(dun dun DUNNNNN)