(Non)Response to the Royal Society of Canada’s Expert Panel on the Future of Canadian Libraries and Archives

The Progressive Librarians Guild, Edmonton Chapter (PLG Edmonton), was directly invited to participate by the Royal Society of Canada’s Expert Panel on the Future of Canadian Libraries and Archives, but PLG Edmonton has decided to forgo this futile opportunity.  The mandate of the Panel is confused and meaningless, as to address any of the six objectives in a comprehensive manner would require a much broader undertaking and consultation.  The limited consultation will result in only a handful of Canadians being consulted, and particularly notable is the fact that the panel and its consultation itinerary has clearly privileged the views of urban Canadians living in major metropolitan centres.  While the Expert Panel has numerous representatives from the upper echelons of library and archive management, notably absent from the panel are the expert practitioners whose daily work in libraries and archives is what makes these institutions so valuable to Canadians.  The Panel’s report will have little influence on the Canadian public.  Indeed, it would appear that the primary and dominant benefactors from the Expert Panel are the panelists themselves.

In addition to the shortcomings of the expert panel, PLG Edmonton also questions the utility of the panel presenting its findings to the Harper Government.  This government is the same government that was worked to undermine any evidentiary base for policy through actions such as eliminating the long-form census, actively muzzling scientists, and showing a dismal record with respect to supporting Library and Archives Canada.  With regard to the latter, there is no shortage of issues at LAC that this government has presided over, including appointing Daniel Caron, cutting the National Archive Development Program (NADP), and adopting the draconian LAC Code of Conduct.  Regardless of the recommendations of the panel, its report will simply end up being used a paperweight by the politicians in the Langevin Block.