News / Ottawa

Academic freedom could be limited by cuts to Library and Archives

A program cut in the 2012 budget could limit academic freedom said some of the 100 librarians and archivists who carried a coffin on a silent march to the National Library and Archives Monday.

"The Archival Development Program eliminated on April 30 provided $1.7 million in funding for archives across the country," said Kathryn Harvey, an archivist at the University of Guelph who helped organize the mock funeral for the program.

Some 800 archives are affected and many will have to shut their doors. "It has already impacted us at the university because some of the smaller institutions are shutting down and their materials are being shuffled elsewhere," Harvey said. "So it's putting a strain on other archives."

Archives provide evidence in court, information about our culture and important social trends, Harvey said.

The Truth and Reconciliation commission investigating abuses at residential schools is totally dependent on community records, added John Lund, an archivist at the City of Ottawa.

"I really see the impact to smaller archives," said Sara James, an archivist with the city of Thunder Bay. "It's going to have a significant impact on Canadian heritage."

Academic freedom will also be affected, James said. "Funding is being moved from the community and the government is putting it into topics of the day in special celebrations like The War of 1812 and Diamond Jubilee."

"It's similar in how the government is getting final say on the environment and centralizing decisions by taking the decisions out of the hands of professionals and communities and into the hands of politicians," said Lund.

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