Canadian Council of Archives: vital for archives to survive and thrive

Last Monday, April 30, 2012 at 11:00am, administrative staff at Library Archives Canada announced that the National Archival Development Program (NADP) and the Canadian Council of Archives (CCA) were eliminated. Without prior consultation or warning to affected stakeholders, the decision was made to cut these vital programs and services which feed into the pan-Canadian network of archives serving researchers from across the country and internationally. This announcement was made in tandem with news that over two hundred LAC staff were served notice that their jobs are under review and that an estimated 105 positions are slated to be eliminated.

Former researchers, York faculty, and students may not be aware how vital NADP funding and the support of the CCA has been in ensuring the preservation and accessibility of a number of very important records.

Since 1992, the Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections has received $178,952 through various grants managed through the Canadian Council of Archives.  In turn, the Archives has contributed matching funds of  $105,106 in cash, and $140,741 through in-kind investment.  Without the support of grants managed by the Canadian Council of Archives, none of the projects listed below would have been possible.  These funds covered projects that purchased vital preservation materials for historical photographs suffering from vinegar syndrome, and were as ambitious as an online exhibit and digitization project that preserved live sound recordings of Canadian artists and provided free and open online public access to digitized materials.  The support of the Canadian Council of Archives provided archivists at York University with the means to hire contract archivists to tackle challenging programming, description, digitization, and preservation projects.  

Many archivists got their first shot at practicing their craft through contracts funded in part through CCA grants.  None of these projects would have been possible without funding provided by the federal government through programs such as the NADP.

Before the National Archival Development Program, the Canadian Council of Archives developed and managed a number of grant programs focusing on issues in the archival community: reducing backlog of unprocessed - and therefore inaccessible- records, preserving fragile or deteriorating records, developing publicly accessible descriptions and improving awareness and access to archival materials.  Some of these grants include:

  • Young Canada Works.  The CCA is the adjudicator and distributor of YCW funds on behalf of the Ministry of Heritage. It is unclear if the CCA will continue to manage these grants.
  • The Archival Community Digitization Program (ACDP) was a funding stream managed by the CCA which focused on digitization projects that had a direct public output.  It was cancelled in 2010.
  • Control of Holdings Grant were grants distributed by the CCA to help archives deal with large donations of complex archival fonds.
  • Preservation Management grants were distributed to archives through the CCA to assist archivists to purchase supplies or equipment to deal with record deterioration, damage or improper storage.
  • Professional Development and Training Grants allowed archivists with funding and supplies to develop workshop and training material to improve the skills and knowledge of practising archivists.

Here is a brief summary of these projects and the long-term impact of small, matching grants provided by the CCA.  This week we will be highlighting these projects and what research, teaching and scholarship was made possible by these small, modest investments. 

Projects accomplished in the past twenty years through matching funding from the Canadian Council of Archives

  • Microfilming of York University student newspapers (1992)
  • Hiring of a contract archivist to arrange and describe the records of Major Alexander Addison (Lex) Mackenzie (1993-1994)
  • Providing funding for a paid (paid!) internship for an archival studies student to gain experience working in a university archives (1994)
  • Hiring a contract archivist to arrange and describe the records of Canadian theatre pioneer Mavor Moore (1994)
  • Development of workshop for archivists administering reference or finding aid systems in archival institutions (1995). Developed and delivered by the late university archivist Kent Haworth.
  • Preservation management to develop and implement a preservation strategy for the Toronto Telegram photographic archives (1995-1996)
  • Funding to develop a program to incorporate multi-level, RAD-compliant descriptions in the university's inventory of holdings (1996-1997)
  • Purchase of preservation supplies for photographic negatives from the Toronto Telegram (1996-1997)
  • Funding to hire a contract archivist to arrange and describe the records of the Faculty of Fine Arts, one of the largest and most complicated series of university records at York University (1997-1998)
  • Funding to develop an EAD prototype, and a mass retrospective conversion of the archives finding aids from InMagic and exported into the university's library catalogue (1999)
  • Funding to hire a contract archivist to arrange and describe the records of the Centre for Experimental Art and Communications  (2000)
  • Funding to hire a contract archivist and a contract programmer to develop and encode EAD-compliant archival descriptions for uploading to CAIN (now via Archeion, Ontario's Archival Network (2001-2003)
  • Funding to hire contract metadata librarians, and graduate music students to digitize, describe and seek permission to host unique archival documents, photographs and live recordings from the Mariposa Folk Festival, Canada's oldest folk festival (2009)
  • Funding to hire an university student to digitize a selection of items from the records of Canadian graphic designer Allan Fleming and develop an online and physical exhibit surveying his contributions to Canadian design (2010)
  • Funding to hire a university student to develop a workflow for the digitization and enriched description of historical sheet music collected by Canadian producer, composer and teacher John Arpin (2011)
  • Funding to hire a candidate to digitize and provide enriched geospatial metadata for the photographic slides of historical geographer John Warkentin and the environmentalist and pilot Lou Wise (2012)

2 comments on “Canadian Council of Archives: vital for archives to survive and thrive

  1. Pingback: List of Web Sites which discuss the cuts to Library and Archives Canada… 2012 « Gilliandr's Blog
  2. Pingback: Motivation to write: cuts to Library Archives Canada, the Canadian Council of Archives and the National Archival Development Fund | Deantiquate

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