Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Canadian Association of Law Libraries Urges Reconsideration of LAC Code of Conduct

Earlier this month, it was revealed that Library and Archives Canada (LAC) management was proposing a new code of conduct, a move that sparked a lot of controversy and some apprehension that information professionals were perhaps being muzzled at one of Canada's most important national cultural heritage institutions at a time when it is facing cutbacks and a change in its service mix.

In particular, many objections were made to the description of traditional public engagements such as teaching and going to librarian and archivist conferences as potentially "high risk activities" that may pose a problem under the code's provisions.

This week, the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL) came out against the code:
"As Canada's National Library, LAC and its professionals are expected to provide leadership and vision in information management for our profession. The Code of Conduct diminishes this essential role.  By going above and beyond the normal requirements of the public service code Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector, the LAC Code of Conduct restricts the free expression of LAC employees, and their ability to engage as leaders in our profession.  The Code in its current form categorizes teaching and speaking at conferences as 'high risk' and unreasonably restricts such activities. "

"The Code is particularly noteworthy in light of the fact that LAC has been under scrutiny in recent years for a series of decisions which has significantly eroded the services it provides.  Public scrutiny is essential in a democracy; taxpayers demand transparent and accountable decision-making.  If decisions cannot withstand public scrutiny, then they must be re-examined to ensure that they are meeting the expectations of stakeholders and taxpayers. Restricting the free expression of LAC librarians is not an appropriate solution."
This stand comes in the wake of criticism of the code by the Canadian Library Association (CLA), among other organizations.

The Code can be found on the site of the CLA Government Library & IM Professionals Network, a component of the CLA.

Earlier Library Boy posts about recent changes at LAC include: 
  • Canadian Library Association Dismayed by Federal Budget Impact (May 2, 2012): "The Canadian Library Association (CLA) today released a statement criticizing the 2012 federal budget which it believes will hit federal libraries and Libraries and Archives Canada very hard."
  • September 2012 Campaign Update of Save Library and Archives Canada (September 27, 2012): "The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) launched a campaign this year called Save Library and Archives Canada (LAC) because of its fear that recent federal budget cuts would hamper the institution's many collections and activities. The campaign has just published a September 2012 Campaign Update (...)" 
  • Library and Archives Canada Terminates Inter-Library Loan Service (October 31, 2012): "The CLA Govt Library & Professionals Network, part of the Canadian Library Association, has published an announcement from Library and Archives Canada (LAC) that the institution is putting an end to its inter-library loan service in the next few weeks. The LAC's service has been an indispensable tool nationwide for researchers and libraries. "
  • CLA Member Advocacy Survey: The Impact of Federal Budget Cuts on Canada’s Libraries (December 15, 2012): "The Canadian Library Association (CLA) has released the results of its survey on the impact of federal budget cuts (...) More than 400 individuals provided detailed responses to the survey questions. They overwhelmingly agreed that the cuts will impact both local and national library services, with 98% of respondents indicating concern. Areas most likely to be affected were identified, and include: access to material/information, research, interlibrary loans, Community Access Program, preservation, staffing cuts, digital issues."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:50 pm

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