The Information Policy Blog

The (unofficial) blog of the BCLA Information Policy Committee

Save Library and Archives Canada May 2012 update


Changing Mandate

LAC is abandoning its commitment to acquire and maintain a comprehensive collection of Canada’s documentary heritage. LAC officials argue that a “representative” collection is all that is possible in the “digital age.”
LAC officials are considering cutting back on a central aspect of their mandate to receive from publishers two copies of all material published in Canada.
Lessened Collections

There have been no purchased acquisitions since 2009. The official 10-month moratorium, which ended in January 2010, has been followed by an unofficial “pause.”
There are many examples of important pieces of Canada’s heritage that LAC is not acquiring. Many of these pieces have been or will be bought by other national libraries and private collectors both inside and outside Canada.

Loss of Knowledgeable Staff

On April 30, 2012, it was announced that LAC would lose approximately 20% of its staff — a cut of 215 positions from 1065 to 850 staff…Prior to the April 30 2012 cuts, staff levels had already declined by more than 48 full-time positions since 2004.

Less Access

Reduced hours
Restricted access to archivists
Restricted resources for reference staff
Genealogy inquiries are by appointment only

Reduced Funding

By 2014-15, adjusted for inflation, LAC’s budget will be just 58% of what it was in 1990-91.

Decentralization of collections

Regional libraries and archives across Canada have been subject to a series of severe cuts over the past two decades. They do not have the resources to adequately house and preserve our nationally significant material.
This was made dramatically worse by April 30 2012 announcement of the elimination of the National Archival Development Program (NADP) which provides support for programming undertaken by provincial archival associations as well as grants to small and medium archives across Canada.

Limited Digitization

The changes and cuts are being justified by reference to digitization. A generous estimate is only 4% of the LAC collection has been digitized to date – a poor record that will be made

Department Closures

Announced closures or downsizing include the libraries of:

Agriculture Canada
Fisheries and Oceans
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Industry Canada
National Capital Commission
National Defence
Public Works and Government Services
Public Service Commission
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
Transport Canada.

Details at:


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