Robyn Benson, PSAC

First they came for the scientists...



LAC.JPG

…now it’s librarians and archivists—in fact, every employee of Library and Archives Canada, including hundreds of PSAC members—gagged not only on the job but during their personal lives as well.

Free exchange of ideas? Not under the Harper government. A “Code of Conduct” is now in force at LAC that prevents employees even from attending conferences on their own time unless their manager approves.

“As public servants, our duty of loyalty to the Government of Canada and its elected officials extends beyond our workplace to our personal activities,” the code says, adding that public servants “must maintain awareness of their surroundings, their audience and how their words or actions could be interpreted (or misinterpreted).”


Librarians and archivists, who have colleagues across the country, may only attend professional conferences if a host of conditions are met:

The subject of the activity is not related to the LAC’s mandate or activities; the employee is not presented as speaking for or being an expert of LAC or the Government of Canada; the third party that made the invitation is not a potential or current supplier or collaborator with LAC; the third party does not lobby or advocate with LAC and does not receive grants, funding or payments from LAC; and the employee has discussed the invitation with his or her manager “who has documented confirmation that the activity does not conflict with the employee’s duties at LAC or present other risks to LAC.”


The Code also encourages employees to snitch on each other. Needless to say, employee morale, already low after hundreds of affected notices were sent out last year, has dropped even further:

[It] is already having a “chilling” effect on federal archivists and librarians, who used to be encouraged to actively engage and interact with groups interested in everything from genealogy to preserving historical documents, says archivist Loryl MacDonald at the University of Toronto….who is president of the Association of Canadian Archivists, a non-profit group representing some 600 archivists across the country.


The Code of Conduct, in fact, descends into pure paranoia:

“On occasion, LAC employees may be asked by third parties to teach or to speak at or be a guest at conferences as a personal activity or part-time employment,” it says. “Such activities have been identified as high risk to LAC and to the employee with regard to conflict of interest, conflict of duties and duty of loyalty.” [emphasis added]


“High risk?” “Duty of loyalty?” What century is this again? What country?

“Once you start picking on librarians and archivists, it’s pretty sad,” says Toni Samek, a professor of library and information studies at the University of Alberta.



Not “pretty sad.” Pretty frightening.


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This page contains a single entry by Robyn Benson, PSAC published on March 19, 2013 12:46 PM.

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