Moving archives from University a giant step backwards: Coalition to save historical records steps up campaign



    TORONTO, Nov. 7 /CNW/ - A coalition of academic researchers, educators,
archivists, genealogists and historians is escalating the campaign to retain a
108-year-old national archive on site at Victoria University. A demonstration
is being planned for Tuesday, November 13, time and exact location to be
announced.
    Federated with the University of Toronto, Victoria University has been
home to the archives of what became the United Church of Canada. The research
centre is currently known as the United Church of Canada/Victoria University
Archives and includes the records of Victoria University.
    After years of discussions with the University over the continuation of a
partnership agreement, the Church has announced that it will move its valuable
records from the University to its rented headquarters in Etobicoke. The
records of Victoria University are to remain where they are.
    While many believe the issue has been settled, the Save the Archives
Coalition sees the proposed move as a giant step backwards for the University
and research communities. More than 2,300 concerned individuals have signed an
on-line petition to preserve the records in their current location at
95 Charles Street West.
    The archives serves more than 3,000 researchers each year. Its primary
role is that of a research centre serving the public. Resources cover a wide
range of topics including the residential schools issue, environmental history
and social justice.
    In addition to the role of the archives in the Arts and Science Program
of Victoria University, it is a vital resource for the educational and
research programs of the University's theological institution, Emmanuel
College.
    "This valuable archival collection, which touches on many aspects of the
religious, social, intellectual and political history of Canada, should not be
allowed to be removed from its downtown location and from the community that
it serves," says Coalition member Craig Heron, president of the Canadian
Historical Association and a history professor at York University.
    "Without the partnership with Victoria University, the United Church will
have half the funding it had to maintain the archives in its proposed new
location. The move is not good for the collection and it is not good for the
University and research communities," Heron adds. "We do not believe the
Church will be able to provide a level of staffing that will allow for public
access equal to what is available through the partnership with Victoria
University. This concern is underlined by the fact that the Church laid off
20 employees during the summer.
    "We also doubt the Church's projection that the collection will be open
again to the public by May, 2008. Given the size of the collection and the
nature of the material that must be moved, we believe the material will be
inaccessible for much longer.
    "Finally, the proposed location is a poor alternative to the current
location, where it can be easily accessed by students without having to travel
off campus. Being moved from a public institution to a rented office space,
which has already been downsized over the last few years, puts the collection
at risk of being moved again and again.
    "There is nothing to gain from this move and a tremendous amount to
lose."

    
    Prominent members of the Save the Archives Coalition include:

        Michael Bliss (Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto);
        Robert Bothwell (Mary Gluskin Chair of Canadian History, U of T);
        Craig Brown (Professor Emeritus of History, U of T);
        William Callahan (Professor Emeritus of History, U of T, former
        Principal of Victoria College);
        Ramsay Cook (Professor Emeritus of History, York University);
        Fraser Dunford (Executive Director, Ontario Genealogical Society);
        John English (Co-General Editor, Dictionary of Canadian Biography);
        Karolyn Smardz Frost (Executive Director, Ontario Historical
        Society);
        Scott Goodine (President, Association of Canadian Archivists);
        Craig Heron (President, Canadian Historical Association, professor of
        History, York University);
        Roger Hutchinson (Professor Emeritus of Church and Society, former
        Principal, Emmanuel College, Victoria University).
    





For further information:

For further information: John Ankenman, (416) 506-9090 ext. 227, (416)
578-5424, www.savethearchives.ca


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