Thursday, September 12, 2019

Service at Library and Archives Canada

A historian and friend sends me a Dear Abby letter: What about the slowness of service at Library and Archives Canada?
I’ve been dealing with the archives in Ottawa since the 1980s and have never encountered this problem before. Perhaps it is due to cuts in staff or something else. But it takes weeks and weeks and weeks to obtain a reply from them. As an example, I submitted a request in early May [ ...]. After I had not heard anything from them by early July, I wrote again but did not receive a reply. At the end of August, I left a frustrated voice mail message and at long last someone responded with an apology that they have been “very busy”. They told me that I had to obtain permission [ ...] , which I did immediately. After that, they said they would get back to me. That was two weeks ago. So from the time I first inquired to now, it has been four months!
For the book project I’m currently working on, I have also been obtaining documents and photographs from several US archives in New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and elsewhere. Every one of them has responded within in four days at most. Why is the LAC so terribly slow? Are they really inundated with requests? You should investigate further.   [Square brackets above indicate my removal of identifying detail. The item requested is not highly sensitive or confidential, shall we say.]   
I would be proud to unleash the blog's crack investigative team on this.  But since it does not exist, I'll put it to recent LAC users who may see this post. If you let me know of your recent experiences with service at the LAC (via the email address in "Comments" on the right hand side of this page), we can at least share. I have invited comment from LAC as well.

Meanwhile, I note that the LAC's Code of Conduct: Values and Ethics page states, under the title "Excellence":
Excellence in the design and delivery of public sector policy, programs and services is beneficial to every aspect of Canadian public life. Engagement, collaboration, effective teamwork and professional development are all essential to an organization's excellence.
  • we provide fair, timely, efficient and effective services that respect Canada's official languages; and
  • we continually strive to improve the quality of our policies, programs and services in accordance with our mandate.
Follow @CmedMoore