In an interview with the Montreal Gazette, Guy Berthiaume, the new head of Library and Archives Canada, shared his vision for LAC and reflected on what his five years as chairman and director at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) taught him about the role of libraries in the digital age.
When Mr. Berthiaume assumes his new position in Ottawa on June 23, he sees three challenges facing him: to work with the employees to restore pride and a sense of belonging to the institution; to build bridges with partners and stakeholders; and to contribute to Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017.
As for concerns about budget cuts at LAC, Mr. Berthiaume said, “There have been major budget cuts at LAC. I cannot deny that, but it’s over. The work has been done. The cuts have been absorbed. I do not believe — touch wood — that in the coming years we will see major upheavals comparable to those that have taken place in recent years.”
Mr. Berthiaume also spoke about the scanning service created at BAnQ that has a budget of $1.5 million annually. “We raised digitization to a professional level, because this is really the future of our collections and of our ability to render services with respect to heritage documents. . . . Whether the original is at the University of Toronto or the University of Victoria or in the public archives in Ottawa, that’s not important. What you want is to see it on your screen.”
Interestingly, the thing that surprised Mr. Berthiaume while at BAnQ was “people’s passion for genealogy.” Let’s hope his vision for LAC includes providing more resources for family historians.