Some quick thoughts on Daniel Caron’s departure

So, Daniel Caron has left Library and Archives Canada, and not many people are sorry to see him go.

I’m certainly not, but I do have some feelings other than glee.

I really, really hope this wasn’t about the $5000 of public money he spent on Spanish lessons.

Shout out to all the librarians getting professional development money. I do. That means some combination of student tuition and government money pays for hotels and meals as well as conference registration fees. There’s no sweet private sector kick-backs, save the occasional drink ticket via ProQuest (but then you still have to stand in that bar line!) , but as my partner who works in the proper-public sector and never gets funding for any PD stuff reminds me, I am dang lucky. LAC collects materials in a lot of languages. It don’t think it’s absurd for someone who speaks English and French to seek out Spanish next. And I’m not entirely convinced it’s awful for us to pay for it.

But more importantly: if he’s stepped down over $5000 in mis-spent education money then we have lost this battle. It means he will never step down because:

  • he put into place a Code of Conduct that was somewhere between Big Brother and Monty Python in its outrageousness
  • he consistently said there weren’t enough skilled people to work at LAC, while getting rid of said people
  • under his watch, LAC closed interlibrary loan services despite having one of the most unique collections in the country
  • LAC seems to have abandoned its goal of becoming a Trusted Digital Repository
  • he trumpets a digitization strategy that sounded like it was from 1999
  • have you heard that equally compelling social media strategy?
  • etc.

So: I’m not sure why he stepped down, but given the way the Experimental Lakes Project, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Environment Canada, and National Research Council have all be eliminated/renamed/broken lately, I’m skeptical that Caron was fired for having ‘the wrong vision.’

James Moore has publicly stood behind LAC’s ‘modernization.’ More importantly he’s a Tory cabinet minister. Who will be chosen to run LAC next? Surely someone who can fall right into line.

I’m not convinced LAC needs a librarian at the top. You’d never know it from the way we talk (and talk and talk and talk) about our importance at conferences, but there are people other than librarians who understand the values of librarianship, and some of them are also good at managing large organizations (there are librarians who are good at this too, of course).

What we need is an advocate, and I have very little hope that we’ll get one.

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2 thoughts on “Some quick thoughts on Daniel Caron’s departure

  1. Pingback: Resignation, Rhetoric, and Who’s Next for LAC |

  2. I would say this is not about professional development. The broader context is one where he was spending more than the Minister on travel and related personal expenses. And given his performance – both from the inside and what we can see on the outside – I am very cynical. For one thing, there’s hardly a serious international conference he would be attending that isn’t significantly held in English or with translation services to English (or French). And secondly, given the super tight restraints at LAC on conference attendance, travel, and professional development, it was behavior that demonstrated “good for him but nobody else.”

    The other bandit that needs to leave is LAC’s CIO – Ron Surette. IMHO, he’s also a major part of the problem. Two top down control freaks with no vision or community support.

    Totally agree re: need for an advocate.

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