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The CHA and LAC's Stakeholders Forum
 
Ottawa, August 14, 2012

Dr. Daniel Caron
Deputy Head and Librarian and Archivist of Canada
Library and Archives Canada
550, boul de la Cité
Gatineau (Québec) K1A 0N4
Canada

Dear Dr. Caron,

I write regarding the forthcoming Stakeholders Forum currently being planned for this coming October. While we have not yet received a reply to CHA Archives Chair Dr. Lisa Dillon's letter of July 11 2012, the Stakeholders Forum is closely related to the issues elaborated in the letter and at our meeting with you in Waterloo last May. On our behalf, Dr. Dillon proposed a series of actions to improve the delivery of archival services, including a request from the CHA that LAC first and foremost ‘restore the NADP programme, which was a cost-efficient way to support provincial and local archives and which cannot be replaced by the PCDHN in its current form.'

In this regard, recent developments suggest that a revised approach to the stakeholder consultations is also now required. We have noted with concern the recent withdrawal of the Association of Provincial and Territorial Archivists of Canada, as well as the Association of Canadian Archivists, and the University and College Archivists of Canada, from participation in the Stakeholder Forums. These organizations have stated a common view that, following the cancellation of the National Archival Development Program, the Pan-Canadian Documentary Heritage Network (PCDHN) cannot reasonably replace the NADP in its present form.

After participating in several Stakeholder Forums, the CHA has also come to a similar conclusion that the structure, process and role of the PCDHN need to be reconsidered and given much greater definition as we move forward. We remain convinced that the best way to provide the services that were lost with the cancellation of NADP is to reinstate this program. Failing the revival of NADP, our view is that the PCDHN would need to be much more rigorously structured if it were intended to fulfill the important roles formerly offered by NADP. The NADP comprised a decentralized, collaborative model of delivering important archival services across the entire country and it provided a high level of regional consultation and involvement. It also operated according to an established work plan and milestones, with periodic review and evaluation built into the model.

By contrast, the PCDHN seems to be a highly centralized and so-far, a rather amorphous concept. It is convened solely at the behest of the Librarian and Archivist of Canada, does not meet regularly, does not appear to have a defined work plan, and to date we have not seen a review and evaluation mechanism for PCDHN beyond LAC’s internal processes. The process for the designation of participants is also ill defined.

Under these circumstances the CHA does not feel that, as presently constituted, the PCDHN can credibly replace the NADP. Further, we consider it very important that a way be found to bring back the key partners and supporters of LAC that it lost following the cancellation of the NADP last spring.

The CHA proposes that LAC place these matters on the agenda for the October Forum and that a portion of the Forum be devoted to discussing ways of comprehensively addressing the much-needed archival services that were eliminated as a result of the cancellation of the NADP. Hopefully we can find ways to re-enlist the former archival partners. Our view is that bringing them back to the stakeholder process will be key to the success of any initiatives developed to address the needs of the archival and research communities across Canada, especially in the regions that were so dependent on NADP in the past.

This issue has been thoroughly discussed by both the CHA executive and our Archives portfolio holder Lisa Dillon, and reflect our consensus position as an organization. I very much look forward to hearing your views on this matter in the near future.

Sincerely,

Lyle Dick
President
Canadian Historical Association

Daniel Caron's Response

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