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NEWS: Librarians and archivists muzzled by Harper government

Postmedia News reports, “Federal librarians and archivists who set foot in classrooms, attend conferences or speak up at public meetings (or even blog or use social media) on their own time are engaging in ‘high risk’ activities, according to the new code of conduct at Library and Archives Canada. Given the dangers, the code says the department’s staff must pre-clear such ‘personal’ activities with their managers to ensure there are no conflicts or ‘other risks to LAC’. The code, which stresses federal employees’ ‘duty of loyalty’ to the ‘duly elected government’, also spells out how offenders can be reported.”

“The code, entitled ‘Library and Archives Canada’s Code of Conduct: Values and Ethics’, came into effect in January, says Richard Provencher, LAC’s senior communications adviser. He says the code was written by LAC in response to the April 2012 Values and Ethics Code for the public sector, which called for federal departments to establish their own codes of conduct. …The 23-page document is to be followed by everyone at LAC from full-time staff to students, volunteers and contractors. It spells out values, potential conflicts of interest and expected behaviours, both on the job and off. …’The public servant could be subject to disciplinary measures, as the simple act of limiting access to the blog does not negate a public servant’s duty of loyalty to the elected government,’ says the code.”

The new ‘code’ has been criticized by Jim Turk of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, Toni Samek, a professor of library and information studies at the University of Alberta, and Loryl MacDonald, president of the Association of Canadian Archivists. “John Smart, who recently retired from archival teaching at Algonquin College and worked for almost 20 years at LAC, …suspects the new code reflects a ‘generalized suspicion of public servants’ by the Harper government. And he says LAC managers are likely not keen to have staff fielding questions about funding cuts and changes at LAC, which are eliminating several specialist archive positions; moving to digitalize materials; and reducing public access to archival collections.”

The full article can be read at http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/Federal+librarians+warned+about+high+risk+activities+like+attending+conferences+visiting/8105580/story.html#ixzz2NpTEAjBG.

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