Friday, February 06, 2015

We have too many local government archives

Legislature in 1940
Saanich, Victoria, Oak BayEsquimalt and View Royal all have municipal archives but all of them are underfunded and understaffed.  Sidney has their arches with the Sidney Museum and Archives, they may also serve as the archives for North Saanich

Colwood I think has started an archives, but information about it is not really available online

The four archives are open for a cumulative 60 to 65 hours a week.  The one museum that houses a municipal archives is open for 25 hours a week

  • Esquimalt Archives are open three hours per weekday
  • Saanich Archives are open four and a half hours per weekday
  • Victoria Archives are open five hours a weekday according the website, but I seem to remember them being closed at lunch
  • Oak Bay Archives are open for two and a half hours on Tuesdays and 2 hours on Thursdays
  • View Royal Archives are only open by appointment
  • The Sidney Museum Archives is open for five hours a day from Monday to Saturday

Cigar factory on Government Street in 1885
None of the archives have much space and some cases not adequate space.  In the City of Victoria the office has suffered water damage not that long ago.

If all the archives were combined it would be possible to have a larger and better facility.  It also be possible to have better staffing.  Better facilities would also allow for better conservation and get more materials online.   Right now the money being spent is not getting anyone value for money.  Many of the archives only have one part time staff person.  As recently as 2010 View Royal left it to volunteers.

The sealing fleet in 1900
We have six other municipalities and the CRD in this region which have no archives at all.   The ongoing records of the municipalities are not being housed for the long term.   This is not a good idea because we lose our history.   I have one good example of this.   For the municipal elections last year I thought I would collate all the local election results in this region back to 1990.   What I discovered along the way is that most local governments have no records of their election results from the 1990s any longer.   This is only 18 to 24 years ago and the information is no longer available.  This is what should be kept by an archive.

Ideally I would like to see 100% of the holdings of the all the local archives put online.   Right now only Saanich has any reasonable amount of stuff online.  Without better full time resources this is not going to happen.

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