Premier John Horgan                                      Mr. Jack Lohman
P.O. Box 9041                                                      Chief Executive Officer
Provincial Government                                   Royal B.C. Museum
Victoria, B.C.                                                       675 Belleville Street,
V8W 9E1                                                              Victoria, BC
                                                                               V8W 9W2

Dear Premier Horgan, Dear Mr. Lohman,

On 26 May 2020, the British Columbia Archives announced that its Reference Room would remain closed until 2021.  While modest online resources are available, this is a blow to students, scholars and all those who rely on the material held at the public archives.  Such a lengthy closure will also delay treaty negotiations and land title litigation pushing back resolutions by a year or more. Moreover, as a component of the Royal British Columbia Museum, which had previously pledged to make a “full-scale” re-opening by 7 September 2020, this continued closure is particularly disturbing. 

The work of historians, like that of so many others around the world, has been disrupted by the global pandemic.  However, in spaces that traditionally offer ample opportunity for physical distancing – like archival reading rooms – in institutions that have made public statements about re-opening services, like the Royal British Columbia Museum, that disruption can surely be minimized.  We urge a reconsideration of the policy to keep the reading room closed until at least January.  To limit research into the past can do nothing other than imperil the future.

Penny Bryden
Canadian Historical Association

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