Ottawa, November 29, 2012
Dr. Daniel Caron
Deputy Head and Librarian and Archivist of Canada
Library and Archives Canada
Office of the Deputy Head and Librarian and Archivist of Canada
550 de la Cité Blvd
Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0N4
Dear Dr. Caron,
On behalf of the Canadian Historical Association, Canada’s leading organization of professional historians, I write to express our serious concerns regarding the recent cancellation of the peers system of merit review and promotion for staff archivists at Library and Archives Canada. We believe the elimination of the peers system is unwise for a federal institution that must be concerned with promoting staff knowledge acquisition and excellence, inevitably bearing upon the quality of its services to the public.
Library and Archives Canada, and other federal departments and agencies with a similar system of peers review, have been well served by this model. It has made it possible for professional archivists and historians to continue to serve at the working level, while enabling mobility through anonymous peer-reviewed recognition of their professional accomplishments. In terms of archival practice, scholars were able to be promoted for expert contributions to archival knowledge and notable service to the larger archival community above and beyond their daily responsibilities. LAC archivists have been recognized internationally for their publications and contributions to archival theory. Archivists’ engagement with multiple knowledge communities, including the academic community, in turn promoted the expertise of LAC. This system enabled many archivists to expand their knowledge and skills while simultaneously enhancing their service to clients of the Archives. This system allowed many archivists to expand their knowledge and skills while simultaneously enhancing their service to clients of the Archives. Conversely, it can be expected that elimination of the peers system will lead to career plateauing for most working level archivists within only a few years and can be expected to contribute to higher staff turnover and attendant loss of expertise. My CHA colleagues and I believe this will be a loss that LAC can ill afford.
In the interest of maintaining archival knowledge and professionalism at LAC over the longer term, we urge you and your colleagues to reconsider the decision to eliminate the peer review system and to reinstate it at the earliest opportunity.
Canadian Historical Association
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