BIBLIOCRACY

Musings of an archivist / librarian.
Possibly deranged; definitely political.
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"…the bullshit state of politics in libraryland"

The most recent bumblings in Parliament are merely the latest act in a long-running tragedy.

It consistently amazes and repulses me, in more or less equal measure, that Caron’s is only voice that Ottawa thinks is worth hearing on the subject of Canadian libraries and archives. Well, as long as CLA keeps playing the sycophant and legitimising this kind of wretched doublespeak, in any case. Honestly even if CLA did experience a miraculous change of heart and re-align their loyalties with librarians and the people who deserve to be able to depend on us, by this time they’ve made themselves so contemptibly irrelevant and easy to ignore that there’s a real question of whether it would even make a difference.

It’s very disheartening to be confronted daily with evidence that institutions and organisations tasked with representing you are flatly refusing to do so - LAC by moving into an oblique orbit ever further removed from Planet Reality, CLA by consciously deciding that “library values” can only ultimately be served by never being seen to stand up for them at all. Don’t believe me? Check their advocacy page and look for any mention of LAC, C-30, digital locks, FIPA, TPP, or indeed any issue that actually matters to forward-facing information professionals. CARL is laying down for LAC too, perhaps merely circling the fishtank to see if the scraps of Canada’s cultural heritage might, through continued inaction, find their way into the maws of CARL’s more prestigious member institutions. I wish they’d give me a reason to think otherwise.

At any rate, enough whining about the bullshit state of politics in libraryland. I prefer to spend my time doing what librarians and archivists actually do; critically examining information and helping open up new ways of accessing and understanding it. To that end, as you may have seen, I recently wrote a post breaking down LAC’s financial numbers for contract spending; the data, predictably, give the lie to Caron’s claims here. The amount of discretionary money they spend on translation has in fact fallen by 99% since Caron’s tenure began; funds allocated for the development of online access and infrastructure are down 73%. Spending on IT itself, software and hardware, is down 35%.

Believe me when I say I’m pursuing all channels to get to the bottom of LAC’s finances. It’s a tough fight, since LAC refuses to disclose this information even to Parliament and CLA apparently just regurgitate whatever figures they get from LAC without even bothering to read them first or compare them to earlier earlier LAC announcements that they themselves have signed off on.

Faugh! And to those who (constantly) cluck disapprovingly that people like me are not helping the situation, that we’re upsetting a delicate balance, that we need to carefully massage the feelings of people who insult our intelligence and wish us and our users nothing but harm, to them I would ask what benefits they feel we are reaping from being so revoltingly saccharine all the time. This is the real world. The fiscal and policy environment in which we are required to swim - or sink - utterly despises weakness. Pretending we don’t have problems or that they can’t be discussed frankly is what got us into this mess. Have fun runnning with it; I’m done.

I acknowledge that the world needs diplomats and reconcilers, but please ask yourself if that market isn’t saturated enough already. The young information professionals of this country need a cause for hope. They are young; there’s a broad feeling that their job prospects are increasingly unpalatable; the benefits they can expect are dwindling before their eyes; the relevance of their profession is daily called into question; the skillsets required of them become ever more ambitious even as their prestige dwindles. Telling them to be happy with a status quo which has left no room for them is blasphemous; telling them to stay silent while the grown-ups talk is even worse. They need a reason to keep fighting, to keep feeling inspired about what they do, to be ever more assiduous in defense of our supposedly-shared values - values which I genuinely believe are more vital than ever if we are to weather the societal and environmental challenges we face.

If we’re angry it’s because we have a right to be. Help us out.

P.S. Shout out to CAUT; their “Canada’s Past Matters" campaign is a(nother) step in the right direction.

  1. klockwerkluka reblogged this from bibliocracy-now
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