In addition to losing skilled library staff, including librarians, at Library & Archives Canada, provincial libraries such as the system in Newfoundland and Labrador have suffered cuts to their staff. After recent cuts, there are just 9 (!!!) professional librarians left in the system. Full article below.
The Newfoundland and Labrador government’s decision to save money by laying off five of the 14 professional librarians in the provincial library system was a target of criticism at a public meeting in Corner Brook on Monday night.
Crystal Rose, a former president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Library Association, told a budget forum organized by the NDP that the cuts to the library system defy logic, as other staff will be left to run libraries without actual librarians on site.
“We are just baffled at the lack of planning and consultation that went into the decision-making for the budget cuts, and I think the public library system is a perfect example of the short-sightedness and the complete lack of understanding that went into the layoffs,” Rose told the meeting, which was organized by New Democrats George Murphy and Christopher Mitchelmore.
“The analogy I would use would be if you took a hospital and [then] you laid off all the doctors, and then you said to the remaining staff, ‘We’re just going to divide that work up amongst you guys. Oh, we’re going to fire some of you as well, and, oh, the public is not going to be affected,’” Rose said.
The March 26 budget eliminated $1.2 million in funding for public libraries, or about 10 per cent of the overall budget.
The Library Association is denouncing the cut, which it says will mean that nine librarians will be left to run 96 libraries across the province.
Education Minister Clyde Jackman said last week that the cuts are unfortunate, but government opted to lay off staff rather than close libraries.
Rose said the cuts will affect major centres, and not just small communities.
“In Corner Brook, with our beautiful new library building, where we have had a librarian for 35 years, we now have no librarian,” she said.
“What went into that? What consultation and long term planning went into a decision like that — that you’re leaving the City of Corner Brook without a librarian?”
‘What is here for us?’
Meanwhile, a community development worker on the west coast told the forum that the budget is forcing her to assess whether she should stay in the province.
The Corner Brook public library will soon not have a librarian on site. (CBC)
Heather Davis, who has a master’s degree and 13 years of experience, said she has worked with several organizations, including the area’s economic development board, which is now closing.
“I really feel like the doors are slamming shut behind,” said Davis, whose career has also included teaching at the College of the North Atlantic.
“For the first time since I’ve moved back here, from after doing the Master’s, I’ve really looked at my partner and said, ‘What is here for us?’”
The NDP has been holding public meetings around the province to collect opinion on the provincial budget, which has included the elimination of about 1,200 positions, most through direct layoffs. The remainder include vacant posts that are being closed permanently as well as an early retirement incentive that has been offered to public servants.
This article describing how LAC has been unable (or not chosen to) acquire this important and rare collection of our Canadian heritage is further evidence to the lack of vision and responsibility leaders at LAC have regarding its mandate.
A huge cache of Canadian history, stored for 200 years in three wooden chests held at a British estate, is set to be auctioned next month in London — a possible test of whether the controversy-plagued, funding-challenged Library and Archives Canada is still in the business of acquiring newly available treasures of documentary heritage. An extensive and important collection of letters, maps and other original artifacts left to posterity by Sir John Coape Sherbrooke — the Nova Scotia governor who conquered Maine during the War of 1812 and later served as Canada’s governor general — is to be sold on June 19 as the showcase lot in a major Bonhams auction of rare books and manuscripts.
A large, coloured and “exceptionally fine” map of the village of York and the Lake Ontario shoreline that was created for Sherbrooke in 1817 — showing the future Toronto in such minute detail that individual homes are depicted — is a highlight of the sale, appearing on the cover of the auction catalogue.
The estimated value of Sherbrooke’s papers is between $160,000 and $230,000 — coincidentally close to the $170,000 spent by LAC’s recently resigned national archivist, Daniel Caron, in travel and other expenses over the past two years.
The collection has been known to scholars for decades. In fact, LAC curators had obtained copies of most of the items by the early 1970s, recognizing Sherbrooke’s significance as a 19th-century colonial administrator in British North America and notable British military officer during the Napoleonic Wars under the Duke of Wellington.
The Ottawa-based national archive does possess some manuscripts from Sherbrooke, and would typically be interested in acquiring any additional original material from a major Canadian historical figure such as Sherbrooke.
But with LAC facing deep budget cuts, wrenching restructuring and leadership turmoil over the past few years, historians have decried the institution’s reduced research services and limited capacity to acquire new material for its holdings.
At the same time, however, the Conservative government has pumped tens of millions of dollars into commemorations of the three-year bicentennial of the War of 1812, casting the conflict as a pivotal precursor to the Confederation agreement struck a half-century later.
Sherbrooke is particularly remembered for co-ordinating the defence of Nova Scotia during the war and, in August 1814, leading a successful offensive that placed much of present-day Maine in British possession. The conquered territory dubbed “New Ireland” was returned to the U.S. when the war ended, but Sherbrooke’s victory had considerably strengthened the British-Canadian position during peace negotiations.
Sherbrooke’s control over commercial activity in the Atlantic borderlands also brought in significant revenues to colonial coffers — funds that were used to create what became Dalhousie University.
Sherbrooke’s papers have been passed down through several generations of his family. Among the documents are letters written and received throughout the War of 1812 as well as during postwar negotiations with U.S. officials over boundaries and exploration of the continental interior.
The collection includes vintage maps of several Canadian cities in addition to York/Toronto — including Montreal, Quebec, Halifax and Kingston — as well as the Sherbrooke coat of arms displayed at his funeral in 1830.
“The maps are indeed a remarkable survival,” Simon Roberts, a Bonhams books and manuscripts specialist, told Postmedia News. “There are a few printed ones, but the majority are manuscript — drawn up by hand, and certainly some for Sherbrooke in his official capacity as member of the government.”
He added that, “the originals have not been made available” to researchers, “and as far as we aware, there seems little if any scholarship based on the maps.”
Roberts noted that the wooden chests — emblazoned with Sherbrooke’s name — “are fabulously evocative. … The maps were certainly kept in them and it is highly unusual that such original chests would have survived so many years, and still be used for their original purpose.”
Sherbrooke served from 1816 to 1818 as governor-general of the Canadas — today’s Ontario and Quebec — and distinguished himself as a unifier of French and English populations in a province where, today, he is immortalized in the name of a major city and one of Montreal’s main streets.
“It might seem surprising that a military man of violent temper and indifferent health should have achieved such remarkable success in making the constitution of Lower Canada work harmoniously and in winning the confidence and respect of colonists of all parties,” historian Peter Burroughs wrote of Sherbrooke in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography. “The secret of Sherbrooke’s success lay in a declared determination to combat factionalism and adopt a neutral stance, allied with the necessary independence of mind to pursue these objectives unswervingly and the engaging frankness of manner to convince all kinds of men of his probity and even-handedness.”
History professor James Opp and co-director of Carleton’s Centre for Public History comments on the resignation of the head of Library and Archives Canada.
Response to the resignation of the head of Library and Archives
As the media continues to dig deeper into the expenses of Senator Mike Duffy, another institution just up the road is facing a spending scandal of its own. The head of Library and Archives Canada, Daniel Caron, resigned yesterday.
The controversy started when it was reported that Caron spent $4500 for private Spanish lessons. A spokesperson said Caron took the classes to have a basic ability in Spanish for international conferences. But then it was revealed Caron racked up more than $170 thousand in 2011 and 2012, for expenses such as meals, air travel and hotels.
His sudden resignation has many people asking: what’s next for Library and Archives Canada?
James Opp is a historian at Carleton University and the co-director for the school’s Centre for Public History, and he joined us with his thoughts.