Attendees: Anita Price (Association of Nova Scotia Museums); Laura Madokoro (Department of History and Classical Studies, McGill University); Constance Crompton (Department of Communication, University of Ottawa); Colleen Murphy (University of Regina Library); Jean-Pierre Morin (Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada); Alison Blackburn (Ottawa Public Library); David Obee (genealogy expert); Ry Moran (National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation); Deborah Kigjugalik Webster (independent researcher and author); Ryan Shackleton (Know History); Renee Harden (Library and Archives Canada); Johanna Smith (Library and Archives Canada, Chair).
Library and Archives Canada observers and presenters: Benjamin Ellis, Mario Gasperetti, Dominique Foisy-Geoffroy, Normand Charbonneau, Sheila Ross, Karin MacLeod, Allison Bullock
Guest presenters: Alethea Woods (Phoenix SPI), Erican Vanden Bosch (LAC Youth Advisory Council), Heather Townsend (LAC Youth Advisory Council)
Regrets: Pam Wright (National Archives and Records Administration, USA); Frédéric Giuliano (McGill University Archives).
1. Joint Meeting of the Services Consultation Committee and Acquisitions Advisory Committee – Introductions and Opening Remarks
Normand Charbonneau (Deputy Librarian and Archivist of Canada) introduced and welcomed the members of the Acquisitions Advisory Committee and Services Consultation Committee and noted that this was the first joint meeting of the two advisory bodies. Mr. Charbonneau presented the agenda for the first day of meetings which was accepted without amendement.
2. Indigenous Heritage Action Plan
Ms. Johanna Smith (Director General, LAC Public Services Branch) presented an overview of LAC's draft Indigenous Heritage Action Plan. The Plan consists of twenty-seven action items, organized into four categories: Institutional change, engagement and collaboration, collections management, and promotion and support. Although LAC already has Indigenous Initiatives underway, the plan is a way to formalize future initiatives and to make sure that it captures everything in a written form. Having a robust action plan also helps LAC make its commitments clear to our Indigenous partners.
LAC emphasized that it is important to have a visible and public action plan so that if programs get cut, they do not disappear without notice and/or accountability. On the subject of accountability, members asked what accountability looks like at LAC. LAC does not currently have anything formalized, or in writing, related to accountability for this plan, but we hold ourselves to account through our consultative committees. LAC is also currently bringing people together to discuss how we would benchmark and report on activities under this action plan.
Members discussed the importance of the sustainability of LAC's Indigenous Heritage Action Plan. Despite the fact that the specific funding for these programs is only for a couple of years, it was felt that it needs to be anchored into something more permanent and become part of LAC's regular business.
Another important element of the action plan that members identified, was how to best communicate its projects and activities. LAC has hired an Indigenous Communications Advisor and is developing a communications strategy. Members suggested that LAC should also provide updates, on a regular basis, with libraries and archival communities (through archival councils, for example). In addition, members stressed the need to communicate directly with communities as part of a relationship building process.
3. Culturally Sensitive Description
As a follow up to a presentation given in May 2018, which provided a survey of what other institutions do with their inappropriate or offensive descriptions, Mr. Dominique Foissy-Geoffroy (Chief of Staff to the Deputy Librarian and Archivist of Canada) presented LAC's draft policy guidelines for dealing with offensive language in the titles of material related to Indigenous heritage. The procedure relates only to archival records (as opposed to published material). Client service and discoverability, as well as reconciliation, are the primary focus of this instrument. In all cases, the original record will be preserved and the judgement of the archivist will come into play in order to decide when updated terminology be added. Records that are deemed inappropriate will have a public disclaimer added to them and a pop-up window will tell the researcher who is viewing it that the record contains offensive terms.
Members felt that the procedure was a good first step and wondered if similar approaches to culturally sensitive records were being adopted elsewhere. To LAC's knowledge, there is no large institution that has established a similar procedure. LAC will share the procedure with others and try to improve it through consultation.
Some immediate suggestions included changing the wording of the pop-up blurb from "may be offensive" to "contains offensive content" and including a time-stamp that tells users when new terms were applied and perhaps reflects the challenge in applying these changes. Members felt that it is important to track these changes and look to technology to make the changes more easily.
Generally, members were interested in the broader applicability of the procedure since there is racist language associated with holdings from multicultural communities. LAC is taking small steps to start and will judge, as it applies the procedure, how far to take it into other holdings.
4. Virtual Reunification
Sheila Ross (Strategic Research Analyst, LAC Strategic Research and Policy Division) provided an overview of the research she has done on virtual reunification. The purpose of this research is to understand the concept and context of virtual reunification and to provide definitions, examples, broader context, key issues and challenges. Virtual reunification is "reassembling physically dispersed heritage collections to produce a consolidated, digitized representation of scattered artifacts, literary and artistic works, and/or archival records of a single origin or common provenance. It is believed to have significant potential to mitigate geographic, material, and political challenges to consolidating dispersed, scattered collections." Part of the research was also to look at the implications of virtual reunification for libraries and archives, and for LAC and its mandate specifically.
Members gave other examples of reunification projects, such as the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) which is bringing together digital collections related to Indian Residential Schools from repositories across Canada.
Members pointed out that there are technical considerations that must be factored into virtual reunification. Stable URIs, and creating a stable digital home for records will facilitate the creation of linked data. That stability is something that many organization can not offer, but is something that LAC could aspire to.
There was also a general conversation about what happens to a physical asset/object once it has been digitized. Once something is digitized, it becomes more freely available and does this availability diminish its value? Does a digitized object become vulnerable to a reassembling or reuse in different context that distorts its original context? Do we need the physical object?
Members thought that virtual reunification held the potential to reinstitute nation-to-nation relationships, which would foster internal diplomacy. Canada has a lot to offer in terms of helping to preserve and protect information and this should be an important part of our identity. Cultural diplomacy, through acts of repatriation and return of control, should be a big part of Canada's national identity.
5. Joint Facility with Ottawa Public Library
Ms. Smith and Mr. Mario Gasperetti (Project Director, LAC-OPL Joint Facility) provided background and a status update on the future joint facility that will be shared by the Ottawa Public Library (OPL) and LAC. In November 2018, the Government of Canada granted Project Approval and Expenditure Authority for the joint facility and the City of Ottawa announced and entered into negotiations with the preferred design team (Diamond Schmitt Architects and KWC Architects). For LAC, this joint facility will be an opportunity to gain greater visibility as a destination, expand LAC's clientele, enrich client experience, align their service model with more open, accessible spaces, and update their technical infrastructure and offer amenities on par with our role as a leading documentary heritage institution.
Members were interested in how the new facility will affect public services and shared some thoughts about which services should remain a priority. Some felt that LAC's hours of operation should be maintained, if not extended. Ms. Smith explained that LAC will aim to match the Ottawa Public Library's hours.
Genealogy is one of LAC's public services that will be enhanced in the new facility through collaboration with OPL. Some members thought that this area could be improved to become more reflective of all of Canada, as opposed to being too narrowly focused on Ottawa.
There was also interest in what kind of exhibition space would be available and whether or not it could be used for co-curated exhibitions with institutions across Canada. Mr. Gasperetti confirmed that exhibit space will be shared with OPL and will include collaborative ventures.
Members also thought it would be good to have a strong Indigenous element in the new facility, whether it be an interpretation centre, or community space.
6. Review of Services Consultation Committee minutes from Sept 4, 2018
Members of the Services Consultation Committee (SCC) met separately from the Aquisitons Advisory Committee on the morning of December 6, 2018. Ms. Smith welcomed members back to 395 Wellington and presented the day two agenda, as well as the minutes of the previous SCC meeting which took place on September 4, 2018. The agenda and minutes were approved without amendment.
7. Client Survey Results
Alethea Woods (President, Phoenix SPI) provided members of the SCC an overview of the recently completed LAC Client Survey which measured client satisfaction, impressions, priorities and concerns. She explained the survey methodology and pointed to the very positive results for LAC. The findings pointed to two key areas on which LAC could focus for even better client satisfaction: visibility/awareness and online navigation. Ms. Woods noted that results were more positive with experience LAC clients, and less positive with new users. Ms. Woods also highlighted the excellent results related to client impressions of LAC employees.
SCC members pointed to related initiatives that could improve client satisfaction even further. These included the way with which LAC's new joint facility could create awareness for inexperienced users. Members also suggested that LAC could prioritize promotion and awareness campaigns for those services most used by inexperienced users, noting that veteran researchers are less likely to need information or help.
Several members recommended changes to the LAC website as a key step. They suggested a more dynamic website that included updates on LAC projects.
Members made some recommendations in regards to the methodology for future surveys. They noted, for example, that some of the categories of users are blurred and could be made more distinct for LAC to get a better understand of the particular needs of their client groups.
Ms. Smith noted that LAC would seek the advice of the SCC in the next iteration of the survey. She assured members that LAC would be responsive to the findings of the survey, and put additional efforts in areas such as digitization, orientation, web improvement and genealogy services.
8. Youth and the Role of Libraries and Archives: Discussion with representatives of the LAC Youth Advisory Council
Two members of LAC's Youth Advisory Council (YAC), Ms. Heather Townsend and Ms. Erica Vanden Bosch, provided SCC members with an overview of the work of the YAC and led members in a group discussion about the role of youth in libraries and archives.
Ms. Townsend and Ms. Vanden Bosch explained the membership, scope and focus of the YAC, which is comprised of 20 members of the National Capital Region, all between the ages of 19 and 25. The members come from various educational and professional backgrounds, and have a range of exposure to LAC. The YAC is an informal and innovative committee that encourages blue-sky thinking and brainstorming. Their current focus is on digital documentary heritage and ways digital technologies and platforms can increase awareness and access. The YAC has discussed several topics to-date, including social media, digital tools, crowdsourcing, the GLAM Summit and the joint LAC-OPL facility.
Members appreciated the presentation. They noted that students gain good exposure to LAC through university courses that bring classes on site to LAC, for research or tours. Ms. Smith agreed that engaging students is important and that LAC would like to expand its programming to include outreach to schools and students.
Members suggested that LAC could facilitate the development of a young research professionals community and help coordinate events. Ms. Townsend agreed that peer collaboration would be helpful. Ms. Smith agreed to support such an endeavour if others were interested.
Members pointed to the many physical barriers to LAC's Ottawa location that exist or are perceived to exist for youth. They noted that LAC can be an intimidating place, and young people many not be familiar with all of LAC's tools and processes, some of which are outdated. They suggested that youth would be best served by LAC's online and digital services. Other members suggested the creation of user guides tailored to youth and the subjects in which they are most interested.
Members also pointed to the new joint LAC-OPL facility as an opportunity to better engage with youth. They suggested digital interaction, as well as the inclusion of creative and casual spaces.
Members asked if there are Indigenous members included in the YAC. Ms. Vanden Bosch confirmed that there are.
All members agreed that the SCC should include a student or young professional as a member. Ms. Smith committed to adding a new youth member as soon as possible.
9. Newspaper Strategy
The SCC rejoined the Acquisitions Advisory Committee for the final presentation of the meeting. Ms. Alison Bullock (Director, Acquisitions, LAC Published Heritage Branch) and Karin MacLeod (Manager, Published Acquisitions Division), provided an overview of how LAC is developing its newspaper collection, in order to address its gaps. There is a high demand for newspapers for research purposes and LAC's objectives are to:
- Establish a comprehensive collection of Canadian newspapers;
- Provide digital access whenever possible; and
- Ensure long-term management and preservation.
The Committee was asked if they thought there were gaps in the newspaper collection, or if any of the areas discussed in the presentation (comprehensiveness, digital access, and management/preservation) should be prioritized over others.
Members asked what kind of access and licensing models LAC was looking at for its newspaper collection. Ideally, LAC would like to provide the public with access to the newspapers for free. This kind of access could incorporate an embargo period, after which the content is opened to the public. LAC would like to have a comprehensive collection of newspapers that would be available through one portal.
In terms of content, members were curious about whether or not LAC capture the entirety of the content of a digital newspaper (i.e., advertisements). LAC's pilot project explored this, in consultation with archivists, and determined that the whole content and the way it is organized on the page is important, which means that LAC will try to acquire the replica file from the publisher. The speed at which content can change in digital newspapers was also raised. Even though a story can change multiple times a days, LAC's web archiving program can capture these changes. However, the Published Heritage Branch would like to consult with the Committee at a later date on this issue and how many iterations of a story LAC should be capturing. The right to be forgotten is also increasingly an issue with digital newspapers, but LAC recently published a robust take-down policy that can be applied to these instances.
Mr. Charbonneau and Ms. Smith thanked members for their participation and committed to holding a subsequent meeting in the spring of 2019. Ms. Smith asked SCC members about their first impressions of the joint meetings with the Acquisitions Advisory Committee and most members responded positively. Ms. Smith suggested that a similar format would be used for the spring meeting.