Thursday, November 29, 2018
Open Letter Re: The Closing of the Saskatoon Office of the Provincial Archives at the University of Saskatchewan.
(For information on how to add your name to this open letter see the end of the post)
It has recently been brought to our attention that the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan (PAS) has made the decision to consolidate its holdings and close its office in Saskatoon at the University of Saskatchewan. The Saskatoon office has existed as an important part of the University’s research network since the archive board was created in 1945.
The mandate of the provincial archives is to act as a repository of “both in-person and distance research into family history, government policy and accountability, educational history, past eras, business and social organizations, land settlement, local history, geographic places, cultural developments, human rights, community events and provincial celebrations.”
In performing this vital role, the archives allow both researchers, students, and everyday citizens to inquire into the province’s past, in order to examine the “documentary heritage of the province.” Archivists are expertly tasked with the important work of organizing these invaluable documents and making them accessible to the general public. Given the numerous restrictions that exist around existing catalogued material, the closure of the Saskatoon office will make it even more difficult for researchers to access necessary records.
The closure of the Saskatoon location comes on top of the dramatically scaled back hours that the archive has been offering for the past several years. In fact, the reductions in staffing and now the closure of the Saskatoon branch of the archives will have dire consequences for people attempting to access records, which could mean even longer delays in cataloguing new material while also extending the wait times for researchers to access existing records.
Even if this closure allows the Regina office to expand its collection or to hire new staff, students, faculty, and researchers coming to Saskatoon will run into a never-ending series of issues trying to access essential information. Moreover, with the closure of the Saskatchewan Transportation Company, it will be increasingly difficult for researchers to travel to Regina to access essential records.
We urge the PAS to reconsider this decision. The archives are essential for citizens to access necessary public information. Such a closure will be a loss for students, faculty and the general public at the University of Saskatchewan.
Charles Smith is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Saskatchewan
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