Monday, May 7, 2012

Funding Cuts to Canadian Archives

It has been a difficult week . . . 

On Monday, April 30, 2012, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) had to act on federal government funding cuts by eliminating the National Archival Development Program (NADP). Ending this program has had dramatic immediate effects on the Canadian archives community including the loss of jobs, the closing of the physical office of the Canadian Council of Archives (CCA), the cessation of funding to provincial and territorial professional councils, and it has put many projects into jeopardy. To say that this program cut is devastating to Canadian archives is not an understatement.  

So what can archivist and other heritage professionals do to express outrage as well as become active in fighting this cut? 
  1. Sign the online petition. People outside of Canada are very welcome to do so as well. In fact, we need you to sign. Many Canadian programs such as ICA-AtoM database have provided international benefits to the archives community, and it depends on partial funding from NADP. 
  2. Speak up to those in power. If you are in Canada, let the government know that the small amount of money that is being cut goes a long way to digitizing and preserving archival holdings all across Canada. If your institution has ever benefited from a grant through CCA or the NADP, tell your Member of Parliament. Acquaint yourself with speaking points available in CCA's Call to Action as well - but know that the story from your institution is very powerful. Talk to your MP and remind them of how this affects his/her constituents, and the preservation and presentation of the heritage of the community.
  3. Join the discussion. Please 'like' CCA's page on Facebook, follow the discussion on Twitter - hashtag #NADP - and keep in touch with Canadian archivists such as myself. Comment on news articles and help archivists of Canada take a stand. Get the word out there by talking to your colleagues, your community leaders, your friends. Let's not let the discussion go quietly away.
It shocks me that the Government of Canada can shut down such a positive and inexpensive program in a matter of a week. The thinking is so shortsighted - the funds go so far and they provide so much service to our researchers and digitization programs. The capacity for Canadian archives to meet expectations of our communities has greatly diminished, and the materials we protect and describe are in jeopardy if there are fewer professionals funded to preserve and document them. Only a fraction of archival holdings are available online - who will continue the work if the offices dedicated to doing so are closed? I fear that the boxes will go untouched, undiscovered and therefore unprotected. How frightening to our heritage. This is a bold move for government to try to make our holdings inaccessible - we have to say something as professionals to question the reasoning for this decision. Please join our outcry today, for we need you to do so in order to be loud enough not to be ignored.

No comments:

Post a Comment