A Focus on Parliamentary Libraries

Article 2 / 15 , Vol 43 No 1 (Spring)

A Focus on Parliamentary Libraries

In an age when information is at your finger tips, when answers to a query are a quick Google search away, and when the number of print publications and the need for physical copies of books is in decline, should we be asking the question: whither the library?

In this theme issue on parliamentary libraries, the Canadian Parliamentary Review provides some answers, and finds that while their role has shifted over the years, parliamentary libraries remain an important resource for the people and institutions they serve.

In their historical review, Vicki Whitmell and Sarah Goodyear trace the development of parliamentary libraries from often humble beginnings to their present state. They note how the Association of Parliamentary Libraries in Canada (APLIC) has permitted the country’s parliamentary libraries to work together to identify and share best practices, and monitor emerging technology and trends.

Carolyne Ménard explains that, as stewards of objectivity and truth for their clients, parliamentary libraries have been combatting fake news long before that term hit the headlines. She defines the concept and outlines current steps to help clients assess the quality and reliability of sources.

Noting the political and linguistic challenges of navigating bilingualism in the federal parliament, Alexandre Fortier outlines the Library of Parliament Subject Taxonomy. He discusses two challenges related to its development: language neutrality and the interlinguistic equivalence of concepts between English and French.

Michael Dewing and Meghan Laidlaw explore how the role of research librarians has expanded to allow them to become subject matter experts who help clients requiring context and analysis in specialized areas.

In a modified roundtable, we ask some parliamentarians why and how they use their legislative libraries – or, in the case of one of Yukon’s MLAs, what she does in the absence of one.

Remaining in the North, Gerry Burla and Riel Gallant offer an explanation of how the two territories, that use a consensus form of government, use their small legislative libraries and reading rooms.

Heather Close and Andrea Hyde detail some of the specialized resources available in Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador’s parliamentary libraries, respectively.

And, Lane Lamb, Janet Bennett, Josée Gagnon, and Dominique Parent share some of the treasures held by the Library of Parliament.

Finally, two of our regular features (Parliamentary Relatives and the Sketches column) highlight subjects with connections to parliamentary libraries.

I would like to thank APLIC, and especially CPR editorial board member Kim Hammond, for their work and co-operation in developing such a robust theme issue.

Will Stos, Editor