Advocacy

Advocacy

One of the greatest roles that APLA has as an association is to be an advocate for causes that are near and dear to Atlantic Provinces libraries, archives, and other related institutions and organizations. APLA has supported a number of advocacy campaigns and projects over the years. Our support has included fundraising, letter writing, signing petitions, raising awareness among our members and the wider public, and many other effective measures.

Go to the Advocacy Toolkit

Some recent campaigns and projects that we’ve supported are outlined below.

If you would like to suggest a campaign that APLA should support, please Contact Us.

 

Advocacy Campaign and Projects

 Save Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries
May 26, 2016, 1:57 pm

 

Click on the image for an interactive map.

 Release of the Culture Satellite Account
September 10, 2014, 4:45 pm
Dear colleagues, I’d like to share with you some important information that is being released today on arts, culture, heritage and sport in Canada. Today, Statistics Canada released data on how important culture really is to the economy of Canada. It’s the first time ever Canadians will have such reliable data. The economic data comes from the Culture Satellite Account (CSA), a precise and reliable source using the most rigorous and transparent methodology to date to measure the economic importance and activity of arts, culture, heritage and sport in Canada. Please visit our home page to read more: http://cch.novascotia.ca/culture-satellite-account . And remember to share this exciting news with everyone who shares an interest in our sector. Sincerely, Jennifer Evans Director NS Provincial Library Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage Halifax, NS B3J 2R5 (902) 424-2455 (T) evansjl@gov.ns.ca
 Electronic Frontier Foundation Details TPP Copyright Proposal Protest
July 11, 2014, 2:41 pm
APLA has co-signed a letter regarding the proposed extension of copyright term, detailed and linked by the Electronic Frontier Foundation on this webpage.
 LAC Library and Archives Canada Code of Conduct
May 29, 2014, 10:18 pm
Carmen Garrett, Chief of Operations for the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada, responds regarding APLA’s complaint against the Library and Archives Canada Code of Conduct. Full letter here [PDF].
 Response from DFO Regarding APLA Questions on the Future of DFO Libraries
May 8, 2014, 8:16 pm
Diane Orange, Assistant Deputy Minister  Human Resources and Corporate Services, on behalf of the Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, responds to APLA and BCLA joint letter on concerns over the recent closure of DFO libraries. Full letter here [PDF].
 Response to the Royal Society Expert Panel, Status and Future of Canada’s Libraries and Archives
April 18, 2014, 11:30 am
Respectfully submitted by:
 
Louise White, APLA President
April 11, 2014

 

Introduction On Friday November 8, 2013 the Royal Society of Canada’s expert panel on the Status and Future of Canada’s Libraries and Archives held a public consultation at Dalhousie University in Halifax. Lou Duggan, Atlantic Provinces Library Association (APLA) Past President, appeared before the Panel to raise two issues of particular concern to APLA members:  communicating the value of libraries to our communities and to Canadian society as a whole; and the neglect or closure of school and rural libraries.  The following is the Association’s response to selected questions posed by the Panel. What is your mandate and who are your members?

The Atlantic Provinces Library Association, first established as the Maritime Library Association in 1918, exists to promote the interests of libraries in the Atlantic Provinces while fostering the development of librarians, library assistants and technicians and information professionals.  Over 380 members, including the groups just mentioned as well as institutions, are drawn from public, academic, school, and special libraries across the region.  APLA is an entirely volunteer organization. 

From your collective perspective, what challenges or issues are most prominent for your association today?

There is so much energy around libraries today it can be difficult for an Association to keep up.  Most libraries are currently on the upswing of the standard technology S curve having successfully rebalanced their collections and services to take advantage of online and digital systems.   As the fields of interest in library practice widen, it becomes increasingly time-consuming to create and promote professional development (PD) activities.  APLA’s annual conference remains a critical venue for PD.  The Education Institute (a cooperative effort brokered by The Partnership) is a recent addition in this area.

Without question however, advocacy for libraries has become the major challenge for APLA.  The existence of the Panel itself reflects the necessity to communicate the value of libraries for funding agencies, principally public, and for all Canadians.  The time to research and develop advocacy campaigns, whether in response to cut backs or closures or to promote a collection or service, requires time and effort that is difficult to secure in a volunteer organization.

As expressed at the in-person consultation in Halifax, APLA is particularly concerned with the diminishment of library service in the secondary school sector and to rural areas.  Reversing this trend in support of improved literacy rates, and all which literacy rate implies, is a major concern for APLA.

What would your association be doing if funding were increased? And what are you not doing because of cutbacks or reduced funding?

With access to the required resources APLA would engage in large scale campaigns promoting the benefit of access to libraries and or library practitioners for secondary schools and people living in rural areas of the region.  Our current efforts are scaled to our volunteer base and funding that derives from membership fees. 

How in your view should LAC relate to major archival and librarian/library organizations and associations?

APLA was sufficiently concerned about constraints placed on LAC staff by that organization’s original Code of Conduct to file a complaint with the Information Commissioner of Canada.   That complaint was settled after review of the revised Code.  Access to the expertise of LAC staff is important to APLA members and no barrier to professional exchange will go unchallenged at the Association level. 

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?

Many academic, special, and large urban public libraries in the region have been afforded the opportunity (time, money and expertise) to balance long standing modes of service with emergent means.  These opportunities have not, however, been extended uniformly.  School libraries have lost out to the competing priority of the core curriculum.  Rural public libraries have lost out to core infrastructure.  When libraries are closed and library practitioners reassigned, two key things are lost:  an environment conducive to reading; and skilled guidance in the discovery and evaluation of information sources. Identifying or creating the opportunity to establish reimagined school and rural libraries is a goal for APLA. 

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

Any enterprise should be able to demonstrate how it solves the problem it was created to solve.  Because libraries exist principally to provide access to content that would otherwise not be available because of financial, geographic or technological barriers, use is the most frequently cited metric.  Because the sources of content are now so diverse - print, online commercial, library websites, local digital platforms, to name only a few – collection, analysis and dissemination of use data has become an overwhelming task.  Libraries are however learning to focus on trend level data from key indicator resources to address this problem.  

Implied by the creation of libraries to improve the literacy level of citizens, is the desire to maximize the portion of the population which is socially and intellectually engaged.  Therefore, libraries also exist as a locus for social and intellectual inclusion.  Impact in these areas is measured by participation rates and partnership arrangements. 

Libraries are responding to the need to communicate their outcomes by more frequent use of promotional rather than reporting techniques.  More work of the promotional variety is required however.  APLA will evaluate opportunities to communicate the value of libraries and participate where able.

Would Canadians know of or understand the contributions libraries make to civic life in Canada?

It is perhaps most important that funding agencies know of and understand the contributions libraries make to civil life in Canada.  Individuals will make use of a service they need or desire to improve their own life, assuming they are aware of its availability and value.  It is the responsibility of civic leaders to ensure that all services that contribute to a literate, informed, democratic and economically stable society are made available.  Libraries are one of those services, providing as they do reading and information literacy, commercial barrier free access to content and welcoming community space which facilitates the exchange of ideas. 

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

First and foremost, libraries should continue to provide commercial barrier free access to digital content.  Canadian libraries purchase, on behalf of their users, hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of commercial digital content each year.  Without access to this content, research in the country would suffer irreparable harm, teaching and learning at all levels of the education system would be seriously impaired, and all citizens without the means to fund the subscription or purchase of commercial content would be denied access. 

Libraries should also continue to digitize select portions of their print collections and provide description, curation and preservation services which enable discovery and open access.   Libraries are providing leadership in the field of digital preservation in particular.  This must continue if the digital era is to be preserved until it too is eclipsed.  

Libraries should continue to make their open access digital platforms available for the deposit of objects by external individuals or groups.  These community based partnerships provide a vital service particularly in the collection, dissemination and preservation of Canadian history. The provision of access to quality content has always been the mission of libraries.  Digitization is a powerful and well used means to this end.

Library practitioners play an important role in shaping the future of digital content.  As key players in the commercial marketplace, we critically assess the content on offer as well as the related pricing models.  The open access movement in scholarly communication in particular has been fuelled by the market analysis and actions of library practitioners, contributing to global access to publicly funded research in all disciplines.  Libraries should continue to influence the digital content marketplace in support of access for all patrons.

Because it is the business of library practitioners to critically assess content, regardless of format, we are well placed to impart the skills of critical inquiry.  Library practitioners should continue to teach the skills required to find high quality resources efficiently and effectively.  Research by library practitioners into information seeking behaviour and the development of systems which better match that behaviour must also continue.

What will be the function and future of a bricks-and-mortar library in a paperless-society?

In the event all content becomes paperless, and free, and easy to find, and secure, and every individual has the technology and skill required to access it, the purpose of the brick-and-mortar library may come into question.  Until such time, library practitioners in existing structures will continue to repurpose space once set aside for print collections for activities ranging from server rooms to community meeting space.  Practitioners with the luxury of designing new brick-and-mortar spaces will begin their planning with a different set of assumptions and create libraries that are as changed from their 1970s counterparts as newly constructed hospital are from their similarly dated equivalents.

Public Libraries are primarily funded by local municipalities, with little funding coming 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?

Funding models for individual public libraries vary, but they are almost always part of a library system which provides centralized support for tasks such as acquisitions and cataloguing.    So the question is whether those systems, working in a consortium model with other partners, could secure the funds and expertise necessary to provide technology-driven library service.  Partners need not be limited to other library systems.  Community based consortiums would also be in step with developments in library service and may hold more promise.  In keeping with our mandate, APLA would promote and endorse such efforts.

 Open Letter regarding the future of DFO libraries
March 24, 2014, 11:19 am
Hon. Gail Shea Minister of Fisheries and Oceans House of Commons Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6 March 21, 2014 Dear Minister: The media has reported extensively on the recent closure of DFO libraries and the opposition to those closures, particularly by the scientists who used the collections and services daily in the performance of their professional duties and pursuit of their research.  The handling of the closures has been widely criticized and claims made that valuable materials of historical and scientific importance have been lost forever.  Concern has been expressed that this will impede science in Canada and around the world for years to come.    The Atlantic Provinces Library Association (APLA) and the British Columbia Library Association (BCLA) together represent close to 1,300 personal and institutional members drawn from public, academic, school, and special libraries located on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Canada.  While our members share many of the concerns expressed by certain witnesses to the dismantling of the DFO libraries, we are as concerned now with the future of the remaining libraries and their ability to fulfill their mission.  The DFO website suggests that consolidation was completed with the closure of the libraries in Fall 2013.  We would suggest that the work has just begun.  A reorganization of this scope requires ongoing planning and active management to be successful.  With the reduction in professional staff, how will this work be undertaken? We are especially concerned with the ongoing building of comprehensive collections in relevant subject areas; with the long-term preservation of unique assets; and with the provision of access to the resources made possible by the creation of quality catalogue records and metadata and by robust delivery mechanisms such as online viewing and, for print, interlibrary loan.  Canada has had some of the finest fisheries, oceans and environmental libraries in the world.  APLA & BCLA members desire reassurance that a well-developed plan exists for the addition of new material to the remaining libraries as well as for the preservation of collections under the new service delivery model. It is true that more Canadians are turning to online sources of information.  It is also true that only a fraction of the world’s recorded knowledge has been digitized.  The DFO website itself makes clear that only a fraction of Departmental reports and publications are available online.  The DFO website speaks to “on demand” digitizing.  How will that be carried out and what will be the turnaround time once a request is received?   Is the funding in place to cover the costs of digitization which from our own experience we know to be very high?  And what of material for which the Crown does not hold copyright?  Is there a process in place to request permission to digitize that is sufficiently timely for scientific practice? An important mission of libraries is to preserve knowledge for future research.  What is the preservation plan for the digital objects that exist now and those that will be created over time?  Knowledgeable staff, careful planning, the latest technology, and adherence to international standards are all required to ensure responsible stewardship of valuable knowledge-based resources.   Unique print materials remain vitally important and must also be preserved and made available.    Are all print materials that were designated for transfer to the remaining libraries on the shelves now and available for use?  If not, what is the plan to make them available as soon as possible? The members of APLA and BCLA are disturbed that DFO has chosen to close more than half of its libraries.  In light of the decision, we urge the DFO to take its responsibilities seriously as regards the collection of and access to new scientific findings, the preservation of our scientific heritage and the provision of access to publicly-owned information.  We ask you, Minister, to share your plan to ensure the same. Sincerely, Louise White President APLA Gwen Bird President BCLA
 Letter to Suzanne Legault removing APLA’s complaint of potential effects of LAC Code of Conduct.
March 12, 2014, 11:13 am
Previous Letter Ms. Suzanne Legault, Information Commissioner of Canada Place de Ville, Tower B 112 Kent Street, 7th Floor Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1H3 March 3, 2014 Dear Ms. Legault, On July 8, 2013, the Atlantic Provinces Library Association (APLA) contacted your office to raise concern with the Code of Conduct of Libraries and Archives Canada (LAC).  It was the contention of APLA that the Code severely limited the freedom of expression and professional development opportunities of the staff of our National Library and undermined the ability of librarians and information professionals to continue in their important efforts to extend and promote library services to Canadians by limiting or eliminating their possibilities for teaching and public speaking.  APLA was of the belief that restrictions on professional and personal activities imposed by the Code would have the potential to impede public access to the vast store of heritage and official government documents held at LAC.  We asked that where you share the concerns of the Association, you raise those concerns with the new Librarian and Archivist of Canada upon their appointment.   On January 23, 2014, APLA received notification from Natasa Puskar, the IOCC Investigator assigned to this complaint that a revised Code of Conduct for LAC had been posted on December 18, 2013.  Also at that time, APLA was asked if, in light of the revisions, it was possible to settle the complaint.  APLA agreed to review the revised document and advise the IOCC should we consent to settlement. I am pleased to convey that APLA is willing to settle the complaint.  While the version of the Code which gave rise to our complaint is no longer in effect, APLA did review the revised version to assess whether our concerns had been addressed.  The revised version does carry forward many of the substantive elements of the original.  Those elements however must now be read as part of a document which is considerably more respectful in tone.  Notably, the revised version omits the alarming characterization of teaching, speaking at conferences and other personal engagements as high risk to LAC. Thank you for your attention to this complaint.  APLA appreciates the timely and professional manner in which this matter was handled. Sincerely, Louise White APLA President cc. The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister  
 Notes from the RSC Expert Panel on the Future of Libraries
November 19, 2013, 9:21 am
On Friday November 8, 2013 the Royal Society of Canada’s expert panel on the Status and Future of Canada’s Libraries and Archives held a public consultation at Dalhousie University in Halifax. The consultation was well attended by representatives of the library and archives communities of Atlantic Canada, as well as interested faculty from several of our local institutions. The APLA executive had received no input to the framing questions supplied by the RSC panel from our members. Therefore I made a statement to the panel based on my personal impression of a key issue that underlies all of our advocacy efforts during my time on the executive. That issue is our ineffectiveness in communicating the value of libraries to our communities and to Canadian society as a whole. This is an ideological stance that seems to many in our field to be not well understood by decision-makers and funding agencies. A précis of my statement follows:

We believe that the mere existence of libraries in communities and schools raises the level of literacy in our society, which in turn has many positive social benefits including a higher average standard of living, better average health of citizens, and lower crime rates. The trends in these social benefits as related to literacy have been established since lending libraries became prevalent in the 19th century, specifically in small communities and schools.

Dr. Waters began this public consultation by discussing the ‘reinvention’ of libraries. Certainly our university libraries have been working diligently to reinvent their spaces and services. Urban centers, such as Halifax and Calgary, are moving ahead with new central library projects that are transforming library spaces and services to the public. However the small rural libraries and virtually all of our school libraries have not been offered the opportunity to reinvent themselves. They were given neither the staff nor the resources to try to make changes to spaces and services. Rather, they were summarily closed.

In rural areas of Atlantic Canada where local industries are being forced to evolve and local people are forced to learn new skills, the absence of libraries seems misguided. In schools where early exposure to reading can offer so many positive benefits in later life, closing libraries in favour of unguided internet use seems ill-advised. However the people who are making decisions about cutting these services and spaces do not seem to share this ideological outlook, or are of a different opinion of the value of libraries to society in general.

We need to help those who create policy in this country to connect the dots, and understand the positive benefits of libraries to all in our communities. A literate society is healthier, safer, and more affluent. Can the RSC help us to prove and to communicate this to our policy makers?

Dr. Demers responded with a point about the kinds of evidence that might be effective in communicating the value of libraries. Although I am leaning toward hard empirical evidence showing real causation, Dr. Demers points out that qualitative evidence is perhaps more important. She believes we need stories that help communicate the value of libraries to individuals and to society. Narrative accounts and not just charts and graphs, will help to sway the ideological barometer. Judith Hare spoke about the planning for the new central library in Halifax, and some of the programs they are supporting to promote libraries to the community, including the support of a documentary project to record people’s stories of the old central library space. Ken Roberts made a point about the great need for consortia and sharing, where our large libraries are being reinvented but our smaller ones are falling. I replied that Atlantic Canada has a wonderful record of consortia activity, at least within our post-secondary institutions (Novanet, CAUL). We have also seen some success with programs supported by APLA, and in provinces with programs like those that come from LibrariesNS. However we do have room for increased collaboration, especially in collaborations between the dispersed library systems that could work much closer together to show cost-savings to our funding agencies and also better service to our users. Dr. Ingles closed this portion of the proceedings by posing a question that I might take back to the membership of APLA: We know that we can’t do everything or win every battle. Where should we focus our advocacy efforts? Should we quit on trying to save school libraries and small rural libraries?  Should we focus on building better regional library systems fed from the large centers? Should we promote increased sharing between public, school, university, and special libraries? What exactly do we believe the RSC expert panel report should recommend to policy makers? Lou Duggan APLA Past President Patrick Power Library, Saint Mary's University 923 Robie Street Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 3C3 902-420-5174 Lou.Duggan@smu.ca
 Letter to Merv Tweed
July 30, 2013, 9:01 am
Mr. Merv Tweed, MP House of Commons Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6 July 8, 2013 Dear Mr. Tweed, On behalf of the over 370 members of the Atlantic Provinces Library Association, I would like to thank you for successfully championing legislation to protect the library book rate.  The passing into law of Bill C-321, An Act to amend the Canada Post Corporation Act (library materials) ensures that Canadian libraries can continue to share their collections with users throughout the country.  Your efforts over the past six years have been appreciated and will continue to be valued by APLA members as we exchange library material in all formats in support of literacy, learning and pan-Canadian understanding. Thank you for your persistence on this issue and also for conveying the importance of libraries to engaged communities.  Unanimous support for your private member’s bill from both the House of Commons and the Senate cheers all who work in libraries in Canada. Sincerely, Louise White APLA President CC. The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister