At the centre of it all: Library and Archives Canada’s Vancouver Office

By Caitlin Webster

After providing service for many years from a suburban warehouse, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) Vancouver is celebrating six months at its new public service point at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch.

Since 1992, LAC clients in British Columbia had been travelling to the Western Canada Regional Service Centre in Burnaby to consult archival records in reading rooms set up within the vast facility.

More recently, LAC began a project to redefine our national presence, in an aim to broaden services outside Ottawa, collaborate more closely with local memory institutions, and have greater visibility and impact across the country. One result of these efforts has been the establishment of co-location arrangements for LAC offices in Halifax and Vancouver.

Following closely on the successful establishment of LAC‘s public service point in Halifax, the LAC Vancouver office implemented its co-location partnership with the Vancouver Public Library VPL. LAC launched its public service point in the central branch of VPL on November 8, 2017, with a Signatures Series interview featuring former Prime Minister Kim Campbell. At this public service site, LAC Vancouver provides in-person orientation and reference services, as well as kiosks for LAC research tools and subscription databases such as Ancestry.ca.

A colour photograph of a round building resembling the architecture of the Colosseum in Rome but clearly contemporary with its glass windows on the top two floors.

Exterior view of the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch in downtown Vancouver. Photo: Vancouver Public Library.

In the first six months of service, LAC staff have assisted clients with questions on a variety of subjects, including Scottish emigration agents, the first Chinese Ambassador to Canada, evolving land-title laws, Indigenous genealogy, and the history of local buildings and other sites.

A colour photograph of a woman sitting behind a service desk with a Library and Archives Canada banner behind her.

Public service desk and self-serve kiosks at Vancouver Public Library’s central branch. Photo: Caitlin Webster.

In addition, given the ongoing needs of the local community regarding Indigenous claims, treaties and other subjects, LAC Vancouver continues to provide access to original archival records of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada from British Columbia and Yukon. LAC Vancouver provides reference, Access to Information and Privacy review, consultation, reprography, and other services for this selection of archival records at another site, next door to VPL‘s central branch.

A colour photograph of a room with large tables for the purpose of consulting documents.

LAC Vancouver’s reference and document consultation room at 300 W. Georgia Street. Photo: Caitlin Webster.

Since the move to this new location, interest in on-site document consultation has risen dramatically. The amount of archival material consulted by clients has increased by 54 percent, and the number of pages copied or scanned for clients has more than doubled!

Collaborative projects are also in the works, including exhibitions, information sessions and learning opportunities. For instance, LAC recently held an Indigenous genealogy workshop in which it highlighted relevant resources. LAC’s goal is to host many sessions like this one, offering diverse services to local clients and making the most of this new partnership.

For details on LAC Vancouver’s hours of service, location, and other information, please visit the Service Points Outside of Ottawa page.


Caitlin Webster is an archivist at LAC Vancouver.

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