Royal Society releases “The Future Now: Canada’s Libraries, Archives, and Public Memory”

The Future Now: Canada’s Libraries, Archives, and Public Memory


Since the 1950s debate has raged about the impact of new technologies on print culture in the broadest sense and on the publishing industry, libraries, and archives in particular. Succinctly put, “The Death of the Book” has been both proclaimed and denied. Meanwhile, notions of what constitutes a library or an archive have been challenged and transformed by new communications competencies and needs. In response to these realities, the Royal Society of Canada is establishing an Expert Panel on “The Future Now: Canada’s Libraries, Archives, and Public Memory”.


Libraries and archives throughout Canada have many overlapping obligations. They collect, preserve and disseminate knowledge, and provide access to information and intellectual resources for civic engagement. Libraries and archives are actively meeting the challenges of unfolding digital technologies, changing cultural practices, and society’s expectations. These are the founding principles of the Expert Panel of the Royal Society of Canada, which has as its mandate:

  1. To investigate what services Canadians, including Aboriginal Canadians and new Canadians, are currently receiving from libraries and archives.
  2. To explore what Canadian society expects of libraries and archives in the 21st century.
  3. To identify the necessary changes in resources, structures, and competencies to ensure libraries and archives serve the Canadian public good in the 21st century.
  4. To listen to and consult the multiple voices that contribute to community building and memory building.
  5. To demonstrate how deeply the knowledge universe has been and will continue to be revolutionized by digital technology.
  6. To conceptualize the integration of the physical and the digital in library and archive spaces.

Public consultations are being planned to take place in: Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary/Edmonton, Vancouver, and Yellowknife.

The Panel has written a letter of invitation to the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. Read the letter here.

Dr. Patricia Demers, FRSC, Chair – University of Alberta
Dr. Guylaine Beaudry – Concordia University
Pam Bjornson – National Research Council
Dr. Michael Carroll – American University Washington College of Law
Prof. Carol Couture – Université de Montréal
Charlotte Gray, FRSC – Carleton University
Judith Hare – Halifax Public Libraries
Ernie Ingles, FRSC – University of Alberta
Prof. Eric Ketelaar – University of Amsterdam
Gerald McMaster – Art Gallery of Ontario
Ken Roberts – Hamilton Public Library

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