The National Archival Development Program (NADP) was axed by Library and Archives Canada last week, without warning. This program was worth $1.7 million each year to archives all over Canada. For every dollar received from the fund, archives raised another dollar through matched funding, meaning that the total value of the program to Canadians was $2.5 million every year.

For this relatively modest investment, the program supported:

·   Outreach and educational activities in communities to help small institutions manage their archival materials

·   Development of the national on-line catalogue of archival descriptions, and its provincial and territorial counterparts, so all archives, including the very small, can reach Canadians to tell them about their holdings

·   Provision of archival and preservation advice to archives of all sizes

·   Work experience for new graduates from Canada’s archival and information studies programs

·   Cataloguing of archival materials to make them accessible to the public

·   Training opportunities for people working in archives

·   Site assessments to both urban and rural archives, to safeguard Canada’s documentary heritage

·   Preservation  of at-risk documents and other archival materials, including electronic records

Locally, the Archives here in Deseronto  has benefited from the work of Ontario’s Archives Advisor, Carolynn Bart-Riedstra; Preservation Consultant, Iona McCraith; and former Archeion Coordinator, Sharon White (now Archivist for the new Community Archives in Belleville). Recommendations from a report by Carolynn in 2007 helped the Archives Board in their planning for the Archives in Deseronto.

All three of these advisory positions have now been suspended as a result of the NADP cuts, along with similar posts across the other provinces and territories. This will affect small archives particularly, as the advisors were a much-used resource for information and training.

If you’d like to support the reversal of this decision, there are a few things you can do:

  1. Sign the petition against the cut
  2. Share the news with your friends and colleagues
  3. Email your MP (Daryl Kramp if you’re in Prince Edward-Hastings)
  4. Send a message to the Minister for Canadian Heritage, the Honourable James Moore [“The promotion of our culture…is at the heart of what I do every day”]
  5. Read more in the Canadian Council of Archives’ Call to Action

Archives are not well-funded institutions and the NADP was one of the few sources of external funding available to support the work of archivists in Canada. Without this funding, it is going to be harder for Canadians to get access to the information they need.

Detail of Sambro Island Lighthouse lens from the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

The annual conference of the Association of Canadian Archivists has just come to an end. It has been an excellent event, with many stimulating papers. One of Thursday’s sessions was particularly relevant to Deseronto, as the speaker, Ian Richards, did his Masters thesis on the topic of the contribution that archives can make to the development of their local communities. His particular focus is on the City of Brandon in Manitoba, but the general points he made are relevant to many other municipalities, including Deseronto. His thesis is available from the University of Manitoba’s electronic thesis collection.

Other sessions covered issues such as Access to Information and Privacy laws, measuring the impact of an archival program and the role of outreach in a networked world.

I gave a talk on the Saturday about the work we’ve been doing in Deseronto, including this blog and our Flickr and Twitter accounts. This dovetailed quite well with Ian’s talk and with the talks on outreach and impact, as I was trying to show what the effects of our engagement with these Web 2.0 technologies have been.* My main arguments were that people need direct access to online cultural materials from search engines, that they have to be able to share those materials with other people and that if they are experts on a particular item, they need to be able to contribute to improving its description.

I summarised the main impacts of sharing Deseronto’s photographs online as:

  • Comments and notes from users
  • Collaboration with users
  • New accessions: virtual, digital and tangible
  • New creative works
  • Funding for new projects

Many of these consequences have been featured in posts on this blog. The difficult thing to measure is the impact that the Archives’ activities have had upon the community of Deseronto as a whole. One of the sessions this week suggested that we need to measure the ‘hard to measure’, over an extended period of time. I look forward to hearing about the best way of achieving that.

*The slides are available on SlideShare.

Bank of Montreal, Deseronto, c.1910 (now the Town Hall)

We are very pleased to be able to announce here that Ontario’s Museums and Technology Fund has granted $16,000 to Deseronto Archives for the development of a new website called ‘About Deseronto’.

This project is going to be an interactive community website where people can share their memories and images of people, events, artefacts and pretty much anything relating to the history of the town of Deseronto and its surroundings.

The site will be open to current residents of the town and to anyone with a Deseronto connection: there are many people whose families have lived in the town in the past and who are interested in helping to tell the story of those people and their activities.

We look forward to working with people who are interested in sharing information with the site over the next six months. We also hope that we can arrange some cross-generational activities, with old and young people working together to collect and contribute information.

Watch this site for further information as the project gets under way!

Deseronto Archives was one of six archives to be granted funding from the Friends of the Archives of Ontario in 2007. We asked for the money to pay for much-needed archival packaging and supplies for the Archives. This photograph shows some of the materials that we purchased with the money. One priority for this year is dealing with the photographs that we hold, and re-packing them in archival quality polyester sleeves is part of that plan. This work is now well under way, thanks to this generous support from the FAO.