John Bovey, retired B.C. Provincial Archivist, speaking on acquisition, management and care of archival records.
|Accession Number||Interviewer||SSI Historical Society Address|
|Date||September 8, 1998||Location||Central Hall|
|Media||tape||Audio CD||mp3 √|
Unknown Speaker 0:00
So I want to thank you very much for the invitation to come to Salt Spring again, I was last here addressing the society, I think it's about 12 years ago, but nothing about the future or of the archives or making any possible recommendations about archives on the island. I want to thank Ken very much for his kind introduction is generous, overly generous introduction. We've known each other professionally for quite a long time. Now, since he was Archivist of the Canadian National Railway Corporation, and I was first met him when I was archivist in Manitoba. And then again, out here we're including a restoration crisis of the conservation prices for damaged records. Ken McKenzie, it should be one of the first people approached from his experience that he involved the archives with to a degree about flooding of records in the CNR safe the old CNR station in Vancouver Island was particularly interested in the spontaneous comments from this audience about the proper birth of British Columbia, when he was a gentleman behind where I was sitting, mentioned that Vancouver Island dates from constitutionally, as a colony from 1849. I was personally very interested to hear such interest in that subject and such accurate recollections about it. Because one of the things in my free sort of retirement here I will hope to do is do some research on that battle that split the BC historical Federation in the 1920s battles between two members of the judiciary. The most distinguished of British Columbia historians, Judge Frederick William Howie of New Westminster, and Chief Justice. Finally, Chief Justice Archer Martin, of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, who had such differing views on the question that they almost split the association into in the early 1920s. And until actually, the middle 1940s Victoria celebrated Blanchard day, on the 11th of March every year, the day that Richard Blanchard came ashore and read his proclamation as first Governor of the Crown colony of Vancouver Island. They even had such period entertainments as Tableau vivo, in Government House with everybody into the 1940s with everybody in costume, no striking poses. I think it was something that died away in Europe or certainly in Britain, about the end of World War One, but they were certainly doing them in Victoria into the 1940s. Anyway, Archer Martin was all for Britain. Vancouver Islands, were they that was the true birthday of British Columbia the 11th of March, and judge how it stood out for Douglas day. The 19th of November, British Columbia's double birthday the day in 1858, Sir James Douglas, read the proclamation at Fort Langley declaring British Columbia a colony and also by coincidence 19th of November 1866, when Vancouver Island and British Columbia were united by Imperial statute, but they the two judges fought over this almost to the lat after the last breaths they died within two years of each other and it was never an issue never fully resolved. And the correspondence column, or rather, the files of the British Columbia historical Federation in the BC archives are full of this disagreement, as are the newspaper columns of the 1920s as well with letters ricocheting between the two members of the judiciary. However, this is a sort of a rather a far cry from the subject about which Ken McKenzie asked me to speak informally this afternoon and if Any if I don't make anything sort of clear if there are any unresolved matters about what I've said or any expansions out to me, please don't hesitate to interrupt me to ask a question. And I will endeavor to answer to the best of my knowledge and abilities. But before I begin on that, I want to endorse sort of what Ken Mackenzie said in his words of introduction, that I had ceased to be provincial archivist to BC on the 11th of March Blanchard, they have purposefully chosen by the way, and I say everything today as a private citizen, not as a representative, a staff member of the BC archives, which has gone through in the last few years, as some personally, I think, sort of regrettable, and unnecessary transformations are transmogrification is just of its name through various reorganizations that have a sort of occurred. In your introduction, you mentioned the headline BC archives for sale. Well, fortunately, rumors or completely false rumors that the archives is the oldest of the Canadian West, and 98. And it continues to flourish. Alone, not with the perhaps the the bigger and the generous financial budget than did about 20 years ago. Because I think all the history in Canada, and certainly, but really began to go not in a way professional and big time in the 1950s. That was the case in British Columbia, building up to the 1958 centennial of the crown, or the colony of British Columbia 1967 nationally for the for the centenary of Confederation. And then things went on an ever, ever higher levels from the 60s from the 50s and 60s, until the sort of recession of the sort of the early 80s. And seemed to have in terms of public support of history or have gone over a divide and be coasting down on the sort of the the other side, that sort of the downward side so far as public support of historical programs and activities of unfortunate, regrettable, but I fear, it's all very true, which makes the position of societies like this one. Even more difficult than they were in the past in finding operating funds, background support and annual grants and funds for special projects. But every organization, every governmental organization, whether it knows it or not, does require archives. Or they're equivalent. Sometimes they're called other some other things, but it is absolutely essential for the ongoing activities of any government any level of government or any corporation not to have archival records. The see the equivalent of memory deficits as normal for more in front of medical phraseology, collective governmental Alzheimer's disease not to have such records. And particularly if Saltspring Island is hoping to be company cooperated in some
Unknown Speaker 9:52
form within the laws of British Columbia. Something has to be done about the records very because, as soon as possible, and I'm speaking just have the sort of official records of the, of whatever governmental new unit is established. We've seen this in British Columbia archives from time to time, in one case, over teachers suing the government a major case in the 1980s, over certain commitments that the government had made the government in the days before there was a proper records management programs, right. All the ministries and departments had disposed of most of its records, the Teachers Federation, and had complete files from the 1930s. And if they were going to into litigation, it certainly cost the government of British Columbia a very considerable amount of money to build up any case whatsoever. And there were many, many other cases, that was just one of the major ones that we have experienced in the late 1980s. Even the government itself trying to find its own records to get its side of the case of what it had decided to do and why. As far as any organization, any governing body doesn't need the records, designed desirably in all media now, because records keeping is becoming in many ways of more complex, more difficult and more expensive. I think it's worth bearing in mind that when you get into electronic records, which seems to be the predominant record keeping mo these days, that at times the storage of records according to BC archives staff estimates, it's more actually more expensive to create, create and maintain electronic records, that is old fashioned paper records. Hard copy paper is surprisingly long lived. When it comes to a if it's stored in proper conditions that will last for a very, very long time. properly stored, you don't as you have to have had to with electronic records, keep trends migrating from one system to another, at very great cost sending records as we go into British Columbia to California to have them transferred. These are just the land related title records, to have the moved from one type of tape to another. There were no facilities in this province to do it or anywhere in the Canadian west. So you have the great expense of taking all the records, including ones that are already on electronics and moving them over to another system. Because there's new hardware, there's new software, and the costs according to the BC archives staff are still higher for maintaining and preserving electronic records than they are for the old hard copy paper ones. I think that in an island such as this or indeed in all the Gulf Islands, one very important thing is to sort of draw a line and say today we start, not try and go back to the beginnings of time and have everything all the past in order before you start dealing with the present. That to say that this is advice that the BC archives got from electronic experts as we began to enter the electronic record keeping age in the 1980s. Our staff were understandably very concerned about all the records already in the archives. And the advice we got was forget about them at first start today. What are you going to do about the records that are going to arrive next week? Because if you start trying to cope with everything from the first recorded documents of let's say 1849 to the present, you're never going to get to today. You're never going to get a jump on tomorrow, that you really have to decide what your system is now, what sort of records you want to or you need To create and what sort of records you need to keep indefinitely and to have had a shedule really almost from the birth of records with which it could be altered, but you need to decide what records first you need for current operations, what needs to be kept for posterity, what is going to be an operational record for the for the future and the things that the governmental governing issue is very crucial to any any organization be it a city archives or a regional one or are those really of any sort of private society or organization you need to have that support behind you what is the nucleus, if if you have a government that will fund certain basic things, if it will provide you with accommodation, what is sort of required indefinitely, or as long as you can predict on that score, that you need a home for archives? The the dictionary different definition of the word usually provides two meanings, one the place where records are kept. And secondly, or firstly, depending on the dictionary. The records deposited in some structure call or institution called an archives. And you really need to have, again what can McKenzie dimension is words of introduction. You need to be in the indefinite business archivists try and keep it forever. As long as anybody sort of can predict the data that has been, it's always been a problem, particularly in the Canadian, West and the Canadian north. About what how much support should be given to establishing archives in areas where there are so many ghost towns were in the province of this province, are there likely to be archives communities that survive that because so many have vanished away ghost towns, even in the late 20th century, are still being removed. There was a merging are still disappearing or being created. But it's a I guess, a paradoxical situation. But there's so many governmental communities that have disappeared, you see them in the cookies, the number of mining towns that were their flourishing cities that are now at best tourist attractions. You see it on the northern coasts, the number of communities that have had disappeared, perhaps most spectacularly ocean falls British Columbia, that just a bare survival now, but all that thriving corporate life that went on with the ocean falls, Pulp and Paper Company for sort of 70 years sort of hit sort of has gone. You see it in the mining towns like cassiar That was a town created in the 1960s that really close down and by 1990. What do you do about those sorts of communities, some of them have a predictable life, you know, they are not likely to be permanent. In other areas. They are very permanent, such as the Gulf Islands, particularly salt spray. Fraser Valley, Vancouver there. There's some areas that are likely to remain thriving communities in need of their records. Some of their archives is other indefinitely. Other areas, sort of Definitely not. So I thought it
Unknown Speaker 19:56
was on National Archives committee's interest in the past arch from Thunder Bay, there isn't an archives archival institution. This is five years ago, there wasn't one in Ontario, that wasn't in the old boundaries of Upper Canada, that all the new extension of Ontario knew in 1912. But it went up to James they there is nothing. Again, it's a case of Frontier resource exploitation, communities that have come and gone in a remarkably short time. Thunder Bay, I think is the the only exception and it goes back to the early canoe fire brigade routes after the American Revolution. So that if you if you believe you were likely to be permanent, or have a long, long life, yes, it is essential to start planning for archival sort of developments and survivals. One of the well what do you what should go with the archives? I know you've done some marvelous things here on this island, just hearing about the publications that are flooding out this year between calendars and the histories of Salt Spring. And the it was every sort of maybe for an indication that yes, this community is going to thrive indefinitely. And particularly photographs are of course, are one thing that particularly the sort of the non governmental private sector part of the community contributes in a very significant way. If you have a newspaper, for example, a weekly that has photographic files, they try and make an arrangement with it to have record photographs deposited in the, in your institution, in your in your repository. Sometimes awful things happen to old photo bags, there's one the Vancouver Sun was one that they had a lot of very old, a glass plate negatives. And a new management. This is about 30 years ago, decided that the old glass plates were useless have no interest to anybody, but they could make money on them. So they sold them to tomato growers to use his glass shields over the infant Tomato Place. And all the emotion all the photographs were just sort of washed off. And the glass survived for however long out in a lot of in fields and the Fraser Valley that has that isn't the only instance of sort of of that happening but if you do have something like a local newspaper or commercial photographers, but they are great sources, that is one than one problem with them. From the with commercial photographers from the archives point of view, at least in my experience in both Manitoba and in British Columbia over the last 30 years is that so often, photographers want to sell their collections, and there's no money to buy them. And for commercial photographers are offered the opportunity to give papers to a registered institution. Under the corporate, the cultural properties Review Act, the cultural properties Review Act governs the export of heritage materials from Canada it could be furniture could be paintings, libraries, historical records. Apart from governing exports trying to keep Canada's heritage in Canada. It also gives evaluations of donations. If you give something let's say to the National Archives of Canada a collection of your family papers. They will be a praised and you will get a certificate allowing you to write off the value of your donation without capital gains over a good many or several years. As you can see, corporations can do that as well as individuals. Well, the, we've found with photographers, so often you say, but you could give, we don't have a budget to buy your collections. But you could give them and get a tax write off. And all too many. And most of them indeed have said, what our problem is we don't have any income to write them off against. What we need is the money up front. Because we don't have any income. If we didn't have income, we wouldn't be sad, trying to get rid of them and sell them instead of in the first place. But sometimes, there have been they've been great collections acquired in Nanaimo, and in Prince Rupert in recent years from long established commercial photographers. And sometimes it's been a case of both the donation of certain percentage of the collection and purchase of the of the rest. The that I was asked to say something about the repatriation issue, so called repatriation of records, principally from the BC archives. There is no, really, there's been much talk about this, but there in terms of the whole holdings of the BC archives, the video from its point of view, relatively small percentage of records that somebody would anybody would be interested in having returned, sort of to communities, and there are often great problems with that, as far as returning original records. Sometimes it is the terms of donation. Why were things given to the archives in the first place collections of correspondence, business records, photographs, maps, charts, visual materials, paintings, drawings and prints. And very often they are given outright they become crown property, because at the time of donation, there was no alternative. Because until it really into the 1950s, you had the provincial archives of British Columbia, established in 1908. And you had the Vancouver city archives, established by the unethical major J. S. Matthews in the 1930s. And you had in Victoria, in the 1960s, at city archives, thanks to the late Ainsley Hill, who was really here and major Matthews were two individuals who single handedly determined that the wallet, their archives were significant and that their respective cities were going to establish them. And the major was the pioneer in that field. Wonderful people who may have met major Matthew's because he remained active, and city archivist until his death in his 93rd year. He member thinking of at one time, in the sort of 1960s When I was in the Vancouver Public Library, personally, looking for a job. And I saw the major get out of his taxi and run into the city into the city archives building, which was then over the Robson and Berard library and thought, good heavens, maybe I better taken serious interest in Manitoba. Because if you're still running into your office at 93 or 92, it was them. Much prospect of employment around sort of here. But the major was, well if you're going into the archives business, look at his papers look at his record, deposited in the Vancouver city archives for the most part because nobody was more adept at intimidating City Council's nobody was more impossible.
Unknown Speaker 29:57
Public Servant I don't think you could find Because the major ignored budgets, he didn't give a damn about them. And I can remember one time in the late don't close on 90s 60 or the, the major was going ahead with his archival publications. And he was called before city council because he had spent instead of 4000 expense 7000. And some counselors wanted to put him on the carpet and put him straight. And when the major arrived, he intimidated them all because he'd been there since then Google, they're almost was incorporated. And he told me they should be ashamed. How dare they offer him only $4,000 How dare they, the council say that he rebuked him or treated to rebuke Him for spending 7500 They should be glad to support such publications for $20,000 What sort of patriots were they and he went into regular tirade, and they were either sort of brushing Scarlet or Rosalyn was ready to burst into tears with greed by the time he got through when he stomped out. And that was that and they have paid all his bills they always did from the 1930s until he died. When I say that he was the most of his papers in the Vancouver city archives. He was also an example of person that perhaps was too much into into the field personally he gave his whole life and substance to it. But you never knew what really belong to the majors private collection and what belongs to the city of Vancouver. And as a result he left a few things moved in and out. And the major when he died or when he made his last will. He was somewhat at war with the City Council again. He always got along well with Mayor Mayor gear whoo hoo built for the present city home and baby bums in the 30s. And gentlemen gear got on well with a major they were both strong individuals and gave him the whole top floor of the city hall as the archives in 1936. Which he stated and until the for over 20 years until they moved out the old or the new public library Robert Robert Berard. But the major rotor will in which he'd be the queen a great many of the good many very important Vancouver city records to the BC archives to the provincial archives, rather than making sure they were left with the Vancouver city. At think this is related to the point you can begin to raise to about repatriation, what things the BC Archives has done. And this has happened in the 19 late 60s When Willard Ireland was provincial library and marketers as he was archivists from 1942 to 7272. And Willard was embarrassed by this will bequeathing so many early counsel minutes and things to the BBC archives. And eventually, after prolonged negotiations with the executives, the sort of minutes that the major gave to Victoria to spite them, Hoover, were given back to the Vancouver city archives, because that is obviously sort of where they belong. And the majors file took years to settle his will. And there are several filing cabinets with chains on in the archives. They're all chained up and sealed until 20 something or other, which was so many years after his death. Look, the executives agreed finally to do but it took the fight over his will, I think began 11 years before he died and went on 17 years after his death just on records or historical records, which is a caution to make sure that you do do it as far as any acquisitions are properly looked after in an acquisitions book, and that things are legally put into your ownership as a Museum and Archives. Because nothing is more a greater disservice to history than have To record put in an institution and then pulled out years later and go into private possession that happened with one collection in Winnipeg, the Labour MP, a Hicks was an art collector, he'd be pleased a great many things to the City of Winnipeg and the Winnipeg the art gallery. But the the legal aspects of the donation were not take. And some of them were reclaimed. And again, put on the market sold out art auctions in Eastern Canada later on. Well, you don't want that to happen with anything. And it is. But particularly with the new emphasis in copyright, that you need to make sure that papers from the private sector, as it were, are well and truly and legally covered that they are yours. And that especially applies now to photographs, paintings, and drawings, that you need to be very, very sure of that. As far as repatriation goes. One of our concerns, the BC Archives has been and I speak only to march the 11th is to make sure that nothing that is returned to anybody and hasn't been very sort of much material sort of return, but nothing is lost. to the general public to the research. If the BC Archives has catalogued material, there are indexes we are on increasingly online and through the World Wide Web with materials that nothing that is in finding a sort of disappears, forever, or even sort of temporarily. There's nothing worse than finding that many people doing research that you go to an institution who know the papers were there. And when you arrive to verify it, you find they've disappeared. And that has been the experience, regrettably, particularly in England, where the county record offices had a deposit system. Some of the great landed families would deposit their papers in the county Record Office. Saved the bother of people coming to your own house, you're mentioning didn't have to be bothered with with researchers sort of in your own in your muniment room or having to have coffee or use the washrooms and then you felt sorry for them. So you have to give them coffee, or tea or lunch or whatever. So they put them on deposit in County record offices. They found, again, thanks to changing taxation laws, but some people discovered that they had papers that had been for three or four generations in the county Record Office, and they were very valuable, they could sell them to pay off estate duties. And they'd never seen the records, they meant nothing to them. So they were parceled up in lots and lots of sold at auction Sotheby's Christie's or whoever. And the collections completely dispersed. We used to follow in Kevin generally in Canada, the deposit arrangements, but then you find people withdraw them. And usually the institution that is heaven has had the effort, the time and the expense of providing finding aids to all these materials, then they suddenly usually on short notice someone wants them sort of them back and they disappear. So that is something to be avoided. And this old deposit system founded in Britain, has spread to Canada, the United States has virtually disappeared that nobody is I don't think anybody is advised to take records on deposit. Because it's just like bank deposits that someday someone's going to come on and come along and withdraw them.
Unknown Speaker 39:47
Very likely, unless there's a determination that they will be on deposit for a number of years. And then the that will be a donation that the legal track As for will change. That is indeed what happened in Canada. In our days in Manitoba with the incomparable treasury of the Hudson Bay Company archives, the 28 tons of material that have been accumulated in London. And when the company moved its headquarters to Canada in 1970. The records followed four years later from London, they are still deposited, they were deposited in the provincial archives of Manitoba, but there was a provision that after expiration of so many years, that you would either be withdrawn by the company, or else given to Manitoba and that is what happened three or four years ago, when the Hudson's Bay Company gave both its museum collection all its artifacts and all its records to the to the Manitoba archives and there they are, sort of permanently the title now rests with the with the government of Manitoba through the through the archives. I think anybody this repatriation issue is a very complex, sort of and difficult one. There are records scattered throughout the records of almost every ministry and department of the government of British Columbia related to Salt Spring Island. It takes effort in many cases to identify them. But the I think the the Arca the local archives could profit by having a an ongoing program of identifying those records and obtaining them in copy for how they can be photocopied, if there's a long run of them, they can be microfilm, which is still a very very useful medium even if it's been supplanted in great part by the Electronic Imagery age. And it is the same with photographs. If the if there's no copyright on that you could obtain prints of all the photographs of places people like from the archives in Victoria, to add them to your your own holdings. That applies to maps, nautical charts as well. What else should I digital materials are the times more difficult to deal with, particularly for oil paintings, and the like a watercolor sketches. They are more difficult to reproduce. But if you're only electric, if you do have a email, you can anybody in the province or the world can plug into what the BC Archives has put on the web. And indeed as archives go in Canada, Victoria was the pioneer in doing this in Canada this thanks to the help of the University of Victoria which gave us great assistance with equipment and with advice that we were able to link to have a website if you're into that part of modern communications that they did got wonderful assistance from the the whole community and that enables researchers to reduce the time they spend with original records for example, if you are at the Peace River Country, you can find out what the what is in Victoria what records are kept. You can go through the Finding aids you can order them up for when you arrive if you have to come down and look at them but they are already waiting for you and you can much reduce your expenses and your time spent on such projects because everything should be ready when when you reach sort of the BBC archives and the same applies. The same from from Salt Spring Island as it would if you were in Prince Rupert or Dawson Creek or or Cranbrook. As far as grant skills the there are several grants programs which are known as the opposite of the Museum and Archives are aware of off. There was a grants program with fixed federal funds administered by the Canadian Council of archives. And they have grants program every year for projects for special projects. Usually, there were backlog grants first, to enable institutions to make the materials they already have accessible to the public. In some cases that were collections without indexes that had been around for, say, 20 or 30 years, maybe they were small ones occasionally used, they were always put at the bottom of the priority list. Well, they're the objective federal program was to provide funds so that all the backlogs variances could be wiped out, wiped out and sort of brought up to date, you didn't have something in the vault for the last 35 years that nobody could look at, because nobody knew what was in it. And that program has been quite successful overhaul for almost the last 20 years. And then the provincially. The is the archives assistance program. There are two aspects of that. The value of it is, is now about $200,000 a year, which isn't much a spread over all the archival repositories of British Columbia. And it's intended primarily to assist small archival institutions to handle their collections to acquire, sometimes to acquire materials, there are grants on a 5050 basis, somebody puts up 50% of the money the grant is for the other 50. And that enables institutions. A case of if you want to find an archives, there are grants to do prospective Is it worthwhile proceeding to establish an archives there's also 100,000 of the of that program that it goes to veterans service. And anybody having problems with Mr. The preservation of materials can plug into the services of an archival advisor. And that program is funded 50% by British Columbia 50% by the Government of Canada, either the assistance program in British Columbia or the Canadian Council of archives. It's really backed by the Government of Canada and the government of British Columbia. Now, I think that there must be a message here when the tape runs out. I think it's time that I should think of sitting down or at least giving you an opportunity to ask any questions. It's not a question exactly. It's an apology from the tape machine. They are very low. Award they are dressed well. That's a very very deep compliment. But I think it's a it's something that must remember in future to say that you must stop you could do that even in churches with sermons to say we only have a short tape so your immortal words audibly catch will be cut short when the buzzer rings it has its uses electronic I don't know. I I remember a few years ago, going up to BC some of the latest things was laser discs, liberal bearish, shiny and wonderful. And this was supposed to be the way to assure the permanency of records in the future. And we were very impressed by it. Unfortunately, didn't put much money into acquiring the system. Because before we had the budget on hand, it was found that the the medium that held the the the message on the top was fine. But the the core of this disc buckled
Unknown Speaker 49:46
and that has been our discovery to with the new and appalling problems with photographs, which some of you I know know all about. And probably mostly Pretty much people with family photo collections do not. And that is the discovery of 1012 years ago of vinegar syndrome. That means when you open up a box of photographs, you have a vivid times a strong, vinegary smell. And it's always with safety, Phil. And with the old explosive nitrate stock began to be replaced in the 1930s. And everyone went to particularly movie houses do after the, you know, the fires, particularly in Quebec, the one that drove children out of the theaters of the movie houses of Quebec for sort of for decades, when the fire broke out in the projection room. Well, safety stock was the thing. And we have been found only in the last 10 or 12 years that the safety film is on an emulsion that buckles and if it gets into it in bubbles, it contorts and the image on top, that thin film that really has the photograph image is utterly destroyed. And it doesn't seem to become active until 50 years after the event. Let's say the film was taken in 1938. Well, it would be 1988 that you begin to notice this. And it was news to us with the BC Archives has has two prominent conservation people dealing with paper primarily, but also with film and one of them went to a seminar in southern United States, I think it was Texas, or Arizona and came back with these alarming reports I really began to sniff and we found that yes, there was vinegar syndrome in the BC archives. And the old nitrate stock is more stable, it may become explosive under certain circumstances, but it is stable in preserving the image not so the safety stuff under certain conditions of humidity. And some companies fail more than others. It has the shrinkage of the the sort of the film base, the emulsion on the top is okay. But it is a very difficult and costly business to flatten it out. And we found this particularly it mixed collections that have both, that was a great problem because you have to sort every negative out or try to and it's found in a lot of the records of government photographs, photographs taken for various departments. That is one. This is a digression but it as far as sources go that at times government has done some quite surprising things, things that are overlooked, such as photographs taken by forestry, the Ministry of forests, we have a lot of ones that HR McMillan took his chief forester himself with his own camera in the first after 1990 There are many others have interesting in many, many departments are some very interesting curious things turn up mingled in with departmental ministerial photographs. Anyway, that that has been a great conservation problem and again, this conservation service attempts to make people aware of the problem and if they have it, to do something about it to to arrest deterioration. But as far as your question I, I am very skeptical about any electronic disks that they are unproven at best that they may offer a hope. But as I said earlier, it is very expensive to start migrating one type of record from one electronic system to another. And we've found in vast quantities of research data that is more inaccessible than the Egyptian hieroglyphs before the discovery of the Rosetta Stone because nobody has any love the software or the hardware to regurgitate the material. And the one case I've seen here in government records was the recently retired Comptroller General Allen Barnard said in a report that to the legislature that they could not pursue an audit trail back further than 1989 because the records were there on tape, but there was no way of reading the tapes anymore. So the the The there were always problems with records. I'm sure if you kept mud tablets in Mesopotamia, Babylon, of course, the torrential rain would be just horrific, sort of in the days of Nebuchadnezzar. And so it continues every year from now you could desert or the prison has its problems, often unforeseen. Yes,
Unknown Speaker 55:29
first a comment that certainly what John said is correct and true. There was a very good article appeared in the Scientific American January on the on this issue, and it gives the, it gives an archive of longevity for electronic records along this was a CD ROM, longer stick with guaranteed was 30 years. So the electronic medium is a problem we really don't have to face. So my question for you, John, is, are there suggested record recommended or suggested or standard records schedules for municipalities that govern how the records are handled, and selection processes in which they know which can be destroyed? Right, regular periods are,
Unknown Speaker 56:15
there isn't one issue, province wide and BC that used to be some in other provinces. But British Columbia has never had one standard, it isn't hard to sort of establish one thanks to the precedence and many other many governments, I think you could get one very, wouldn't be hard to apply one sort of at all and find an example that could apply to let's say, a local situation. I think you could do that.
Unknown Speaker 56:49
Question of the day could be the production of existing photographs in the archives. It used to be they could get copies of photographs that were pretty well
Unknown Speaker 57:00
like the original, I guess, the recording. Now, the system is that
Unknown Speaker 57:10
this dye sublimation that
Unknown Speaker 57:14
my publisher is great. It looks good to my eyes, but he feels that they're vastly inferior.
Unknown Speaker 57:23
I don't think so. With the makes it quicker and cheaper for sort of the public. I think for general, Mike's parents since we introduced it, that it really was it was a very, very good thing, because you could get in 15 minutes, instead of waiting sort of weeks, you can get a pretty high quality print. If publish publishers are queasy about it, I think an arrangement could be sort of reached if you simply have to have something from the original negative. It can be done although it's going to be more costly, but it publishes insist on it. Yes. The same way that no with some of the Emily Carr drawings that the public Douglas and McIntyre To be specific, have some reservations of first about doing these very fun pencil drawings, of which the BC archives by chance has so many like 1800 from the 1890s her career and want to do a book on Emily Carr drawings. Well, Douglas and McIntyre thought that if they were imaged they were quite happy with the result. So my experience has been that it is quite satisfactory for for most publishing endeavors I guess but some picture editors for the me may differ and that the high resolution compare the original with the the with the original prints
Unknown Speaker 59:18
like I thought they were pretty good myself and I
Unknown Speaker 59:22
got it was very when we got back to proper
Unknown Speaker 59:34
I personally couldn't see
Unknown Speaker 59:35
the difference. I don't see the difference. Some of the ones that if you just printed it off the internet ones those are not for ready for protection of copyright. Those are not of reproducible quality. They are not intended to be reproduced. But I think habits out to people who are drawn to the visual records because I think most publishers are glad to accept that the one of the great exception would be color photographs, which are again, very, very volatile. As anyone who has old family albums with colored prints can see how you've changed color over the last 30 years. Some of them are from the unrecognizable. So, and people I know that the people involved in color photography, or color reproductions and publishing have been very, very careful. very fussy about that. And it seems to be there's always been up till now, a really very sensitive thing when you do color separations, so many good to come back and back again, to get them precise, particularly if you're in the field of art. And most of my observed experiences, then would then lead color and some of the other colonial watercolors.
Unknown Speaker 1:01:08
I would like to thank you, on behalf of the audience very, very much. Thank you so much. You've given me an awful lot to think about and makes me feel very humbled that I don't have anywhere near the knowledge.
Unknown Speaker 1:01:23
But I've been avid since 1962. So I hope I'm not getting too obsolete. Thank you.
Unknown Speaker 1:01:35
Very you do have decades left on your 93. Hope you join us for coffee and tea and Jonathan Ward Rowling's to let us enter some more of this knowledge and experiences. Thank you all for coming. And I look forward to seeing you at the next week until October 12.
Unknown Speaker 1:01:58
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