Fading Away.

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Not an archivist and don’t play one on TV, but the cuts to Library and Archives Canada are really getting me down.

The Heritage Minister and his government clearly don’t understand how archives work, that they aren’t just dusty buildings full of stuff that no one’s allowed to see. The don’t understand that focusing on digitization is great, but not at the expense of new acquisitions and actual, physical records. Cutting 20% of the staff at a public institution that people use, whether online or in person, on a regular basis, to better understand their past and their country’s place in history is seriously detrimental. It makes me sick. It makes me feel helpless. If our government isn’t going to take care of national treasures, who the fuck can/will?

Since I am not an archivist, I urge you to have a look at this website and campaign to learn more about why we need to take action to hold on to our past. I know it’s tough to convince some people that history is important, that heritage matters, and the culture is something the government should be paying for (with our tax money), but this is a vital service that is being gutted.

I wrote a bit more here, where I namedropped someone who might now be reading this (hi Paul!). He might correct some of my hyperbolic generalities.

(Also, thanks to Steve Hewitt for the link at the top.)

(Also, I don’t normally explain my titles, which sometimes makes sense only to me, but Fading Away was a document that led to the creation of my old workplace, that folded due to budget cuts to heritage programs in Canada. So this is not new.)

One thought on “Fading Away.

  1. Katy

    I’ve been meaning to post this on Facebook, but here’s a good summary of what the cuts actually are, from the University of Toronto librarians: http://utlibrarians.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/serious-situation-developing-at-lac-alert-your-colleagues-and-faculty-news-from-caut/

    My biggest gripe with this is that digitization, done well, is not cheap. It can be more expensive than just letting the stuff sit around in old dusty boxes. You don’t just scan stuff or take pictures of it and call it a day. You need good metadata, you need a way to access the digital surrogates, and you need a long-range plan for preservation of your digital assets. None of those problems are solved easily or on the cheap.

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