Friday, December 01, 2017

The Film Board Archives

Now you see me, now you don't
I had not been following this, but the "Advocacy" page of the Canadian Historical Association website includes ocorrespondence started in 2015 between the CHA (with the Film Studies Association of Canada) and the National Film Board over researchers' access to the Film Board's print and document (i.e., non-film) archives.

Given the historical status of the Film Board and its role as a public cultural agency, one might think that its archives would be a public resource.  But apparently it has long been understood by governments that as a public agency, the NFB would  operate under the rules of the government's Access to Information protocols -- which is very much about the things governments are NOT required to give access to,  and also about the costs and complications that administrators can put in the way of researchers seeking access.

It's an exquisitely polite correspondence that the CHA has published. But there is an underlying steeliness ("the NFB is not an archive repository and its obligations regarding access to its records devolves only from the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act') that makes clear that in bureaucracies control of information is a jealously guarded power.

If NFB will not manage access to its records, shouldn't they automatically be passed on to Library and Archives Canada? The NFB calls this a "promising avenue." But, it goes on, " the parameters and timing of this collaboration remain to be clarified"  -- maybe after 2019 because for the time being they are too busy developing a new headquarters from themselves..
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