12 June 2012

The extent of our civilization

It's been quiet around here recently, mostly because I've been madly busy with work, on or off the farm, or with campaigning to try and stay in work, given recent drastic cuts to funding for archives in Canada. The children and I spent a day in May demonstrating in Ottawa against the cuts.

It was great to see democracy in action like that and it's been wonderful to see the way that our small profession and those sympathetic to our principles have responded to the threats posed by the short-sighted decisions of the individuals currently in charge of Canada's national library and archives. There's an online petition with more details about the issue, if you are interested in what all the fuss is about.

As a consequence of losing a chunk of my income with these cuts, I took on a stall in the local farmers' market on Saturdays this summer. This has meant I've had to spend more time keeping the garden weeded/seeded and my weekends are correspondingly shorter. All in all, there's a lot less time for blogging, but at least I'm spending more time outside, one way or the other!

I went to the national archivists' conference was in Whitehorse this past week (more time away from those fast-growing weeds, ack!). The conference was the perfect place to be at a time of professional crisis like this: a sort of group therapy. The sense of solidarity among archivists from all over Canada (and beyond) was fantastic. A colleague of mine from Britain commented that she didn't think that UK archivists would react in the same way if there was a similar threat to archival funding over there. I think she might be right - and it's only when the Canadian archival system is under threat that you understand that its members do see it as a system, rather than just a loose affiliation of professionals. It's a shame the people at Library and Archives Canada don't recognise it as such...

The last stop on our trip to Ottawa on May 28th was the statue of Dominion Archivist Sir Arthur Doughty (the only statue in Ottawa to honour a civil servant). The words on the base of the statue are these:

Of all national assets, archives are the most precious. They are the gift of one generation to another and the extent of our care of them marks the extent of our civilization.

No comments: