RSC consultations on “Libraries, Archives, and Canada’s Future”

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The Royal Society of Canada has convened an expert panel on the future of libraries and archives in Canada.  The panel is encouraging interested parties (archives dependent historical geographers/environmental historians?) to respond to the framing questions posted on their blog.

E-mail submissions should be sent to Jessica MacQueen <> by mid-January at the latest.

Jessica MacQueen informs me that she worked for three years as an archival assistant for the Canadian Forest Service in Edmonton.  She will be very glad to hear from you.




1. How would you describe the services Canadians, including Aboriginal Canadians and new Canadians, are currently receiving from libraries and archives in Canada?

2. Libraries are currently hybrid operations, constantly pulled toward traditional services by many core users and pulled, equally, by a concern for relevancy from other users and potential users. What issues are libraries facing as they try to make the transition to new service models?

3. How do libraries and archives measure outcomes of their service and community impacts?

4. Are libraries the appropriate institutions to catalog, store, and provide access to research data? If not, which institutions should provide these services?


1. Would Canadians know of, or understand, the contribution you make to library/archival service in Canada?

2. Describe the services provided directly to users within your context, or whether they are consortial in nature; please describe the mechanisms in place to define, refine and measure the impact of the services.

3. In the digital era, what support for patrons do/should libraries provide?

4. What in your opinion are the specific roles of libraries and/or archives and/or museums and other heritage institutions in community building and memory building?



1. What are the main challenges of born-digital material for your institution?

2. What role should libraries and archives take in the digitization, the dissemination and the long-term preservation of Canadian heritage (print publications and archives)?

3. What will be the function and future of a brick-and-mortar library or archive in a paperless future?


1. What changes, in your judgment, are necessary in the professional education and training of librarians/ archivists in the 21st century?

2. What conversations do you think need to take place with library, archival, and information studies programs about professional competency requirements, and have they begun?


1. Public libraries are primarily funded by local municipalities, with little funding from any other level of government. Many towns and rural communities are too small to support needed technology. How do we encourage the creation of library systems (or consortia) that can meet the increasingly sophisticated technology-driven needs of libraries—whether urban or rural?

2. Assuming academic host institutions have financial resource constraints, and assuming academic libraries are equally constrained, how might these libraries attract funding adequate to meet the expectations of their users?

3. What percentage increase to your current budget would permit you to realize the aspirations of your users? If you received an increased budget and consistent adequate resources, describe your library/ archives in 2017.

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David Brownstein is the Principal of Klahanie Research Ltd ( He is also a longstanding UBC sessional instructor, and the continuing co-ordinator of NiCHE's "The Canadian Forest-History Preservation Project" (still facilitating archival donations after 11 years).

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