VPL chief librarian Sandra Singh and Librarian and Archivist of Canada Dr. Guy Berthiaume announced their partnership at the Vancouver Central Library on Wednesday, promising to develop new opportunities that will connect Vancouver and Canada’s history.
By signing the memorandum of understanding between the two organizations, Singh said they would build on each other’s strengths.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity for patrons to access new resources to achieve their goals and aspirations,” she said.
The National Archives regional facility in Burnaby was previously used as a records storage facility for Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, as well as for the archival records for British Columbia and the Yukon. As their lease was not renewed by the federal government for economic and financial reasons, a partnership with the Vancouver Public Library came at the right time. Not only do the newly vacant floors at the Central Branch provide an accessible space to transfer and store these archival documents, but it will keep the federal government accountable for its citizens, in addition to other public benefits.
According to Singh, the implementation of interactive exhibitions, hands-on workshops, and informative sessions will attract a broader spectrum of citizens in the community.
“The VPL and LAC will have the opportunity to connect with people in Vancouver with their history and the history of Canada,” she said.
Dr. Berthiaume said the partnership and new location of LAC would allow for greater visibility, expanding clientele, and the exciting prospect of joint projects by special events and exhibitions. For him, it’s all about location and opportunity.
“Our clients will benefit from shared expertise, complimentary public programs, expanded veteran services, and outreach,” he said. This will include accessibility to records of original treaties between First Nations and “other exchanges made about [First Nations] land.”
Dr. Berthiaume said LAC is working on providing digital records of all 640,000 Canadian soldiers of WWI, and is moving forward with a focus on genealogy and ancestral documents for curious citizens.
“There is a huge demand [for genealogy]. We are helping people know themselves as a country, but also as individuals,” he said.
Genealogy and ancestral documents, First Nations records, and on-site staff expertise and availability make up 90 per cent of LAC’s main client interest.
Langara student Kaelan Baker was impressed with the new programs and opportunities offered at the VPL Central Branch. The first year kinesiology major said that even though she is a resident of Richmond, “It’s just a skytrain stop away.”
“I am proud to be Canadian, but it would give me more of a background as to what we actually did, what my ancestors went through and what they did to help the country,” she said. “I think that would be really cool because then it’s just really simple and easy to go and find out where you’re from.”
The VPL and LAC services will be made available to the public in the spring of 2017.