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.


Hot Docs 2011

Hey – you know that Hot Docs is one of the best things to happen to this city every year, right? Here are my urbanist/public space suggestions at Spacing, but there are a ton of other ones I’m excited about. Hey, you should come see one of the following this week with me! Or you should go and see some of them separately. Or you should peruse the website at your leisure and go to everything (even if it’s gone rush, there are almost always seats available).

Family Portrait in Black and White
Bobby Fischer Against the World 
Vodka Factory 
Cinema Komunisto
The Advocate of Fagdom
Highway Gospel
Carol Channing: Larger Than Life
St-Henri, the 26th of August (I’ll post my review of this tomorrow)
The Interrupters  (ditto)