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Library and Archives Canada's Services Advisory Board (LAC SAB) held its inaugural meeting in Ottawa on November 30, 2007.
The newly-created LAC Services Advisory Board is composed of representatives from various user communities across Canada and is the first of two components of LAC's recently-established public consultation process. The public consultation seeks user feedback concerning the appropriate balance of types of public services LAC offers its diverse users through various service channels.
The second component involves general public consultations, held on a regular and ongoing basis, concerning LAC's client services, with the first meeting planned for January 2008. LAC users will be invited to comment in person, by telephone or postal mail, or using electronic means over the Internet.
LAC SAB's role is to examine issues directly related to the services aspect of LAC's mandate and to provide advice thereon to Doug Rimmer, Assistant Deputy Minister, Programs and Services Sector, Library and Archives Canada. Issues may be tabled by LAC SAB members, LAC users, or staff within LAC.
The November 30th meeting was chaired by Doug Rimmer, with Secretariat duties provided by Services Branch, Library and Archives Canada. Twenty-six LAC SAB members were in attendance, with two members sending regrets.
The agenda for the first meeting included validation of the Board's membership and Terms of Reference. Mr. Rimmer and Michelle Doucet, Director-General of Services Branch, provided the Board with background information on LAC's strategic choices and overall financial picture. The key agenda item was discussion of hours of on-site service provided to clients at 395 Wellington Street.
Members were successful in achieving broad consensus on the topics covered. In summary, members agreed:
- The restoration of evening hours and the additional weekend hours were a good first step.
- The current six hours a day during which LAC staff provides services are insufficient.
- To consider different service hours related to a) time of day and b) number of points of service available.
- Users should have access to a greater range of activities when staff are not in the reference and consultation rooms, for example, self-serve copying.
- LAC needs to provide improved access to finding aids.
- Users consider quality of service equally important to the amount of time during which access to the collections is provided. There should be a review of the number and types of tasks that staff is reasonably expected to manage to maintain a satisfactory level of service.
Doug Rimmer expressed his confidence in LAC being able to incorporate most, if not all, of the above issues. His one cautionary note involved the use of digital cameras and reader-printers by researchers after staffed hours. LAC must ensure that it respects Canadian copyright law when allowing reproduction of collection material. Mr. Rimmer also stated that there may be challenges in digitizing finding aids because of their complexity and given, in certain cases, the need to rework current versions prior to digitization.
In addition to the points of discussion and outcomes described above, a number of business and logistical decisions were made. These will be summarized in the draft Record of Decisions, to be issued shortly.
For next steps, LAC will develop specific proposals for additional service hours implementation, following which a draft plan will be presented to LAC SAB by mid-January 2008 to obtain its input. The business and logistical decisions agreed upon at the November 30th meeting will be followed up by LAC as quickly as possible. LAC will continuously review its public services through this consultative process to ensure that all Canadians and those interested in Canada have the fullest access possible to Canada's documentary heritage.
Senior Media Relations Officer
Library and Archives Canada
819-994-4589 or 613-293-4298
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