Next week, city council"s finance committee is to consider the naming of the new archives and library materials building, the one Mayor Jim Watson had proposed to name for Charlotte Whitton and he now proposes to name for James Bartleman.
I understand that part of the reason for choosing Bartleman, aside from all his positive attributes, is that the building is both a library and an archives building, and the library fans and the archives fans each want their own champion"s name on the building. The librarians are damned if they"ll accept an archivist"s name and the archivists are damned if they"ll accept a librarian.
Herewith, a salvo just launched from the library side, which wants the building to be named for Claude Aubry, Ottawa"s first bilingual chief librarian.
Bartleman not the best choice for the name of the new Central Archives/Ottawa Public Library Materials Centre.
OTTAWA, November 30, 2011" The Ottawa Citizen (Nov 19, 2011) wrote:"The name of former lieutenant-governor James Bartleman is gliding toward inscription on the city"s new archives building, with the period of public consultation wrapped up and no substantial objections received by the city." On November 29, the City of Ottawa published a report on its choice, in spite of the overwhelming vote by Ottawa and area residents in the Ottawa Sun opposed the selection of Bartleman: 18% said yes to the suggested name and 80% said no. The Citizen"s own poll: 2 votes out of 1592 (less than 1% for Bartleman), 675 (42%) for Les Lye) and 844 for Claude Aubry (53%); 57 comments, the majority supporting Aubry and the others for Lye. Furthermore, by recommending the name of Bartleman, the City is ignoring the advice of its Arts, Heritage and Culture Advisory Committee on giving priority to persons who are deceased.
The City chose 19 names out of 43 names submitted; but it only profiled one throughout the process, ignoring the biography and the tighter connection of some of the other nominees to the building.
In the Naming Committee report, one reads that James Bartleman was a resident of Ottawa for 35 years. What actual connection did he have to the Archives and the Ottawa Public Library? An address alone is not a very heavy connection"¦ During most of his career, James Bartleman, a resident of Perth (Ontario), is known to have lived in Toronto, Orillia, Port Carling, Cuba, Israel, the European Union, Cyprus, South Africa. The City"s report states that a commemorative name honours individuals who are (or have been) citizens of the City of Ottawa or have made a significant contribution to the City of Ottawa. It is questionable whether Mr. Bartleman really meets this requirement.
This building is not the right choice for honouring James Bartleman. The City should honour a true Ottawa resident, such as Claude Aubry, who worked tirelessly, serving as bilingual Chief Librarian for 26 years (1953-1979). He created library branches, a bookmobile service, and played a crucial role in the advent and development of the Ottawa Room, which collects and preserves Ottawa"s history. He was also a prolific writer of novels and children"s literature as well as writing for radio and television and received the Order of Canada in 1974. He passed away in 1984. His name was recommended twice by the Board of the Ottawa Public Library, but the Naming Committee chose to ignore this proposal.
The City"s Finance and Economic Development Committee meets on December 6 to decide whether to recommend to Council approval of the naming proposal. At that time, it should recommend a more appropriate name included in the list of the other 18 candidates. In summary, by choosing the name James Bartleman for this important local building, the City will be losing the opportunity to honour a long-time resident of Ottawa who contributed much to this city"s archives and library service.
Update: Two things to add. First, I carelessly removed the names of the authors of the press release. I just meant to remove their phone numbers but was sloppy about it. It came from Monique (Aubry) Frize, Louis Patry and Michel Prevost.
Second, they also want you to know this:
Dear Mr. Reevely:
Thank you very much for posting our press release on your blog.
You make the suggestion"that library fans and the archives fans each want their own champion"s name on the building". Where did you get that idea? From whom? Anyone suggesting that idea is probably trying to stir up controversy or disagreement, i.e. the divide and conquer tactic.
We believe that the title of your December 1, 2011 blog,"Librarians vs. archivists" is misguided.
There is no rivalry or disagreement between archives fans and library fans. If we were to suggest one thing that supporters of the archives and the public library would agree on, it would be that the new facility be named after an Ottawan, preferably deceased, who has a link to the city"s archives and/or library, or both.
In late 2009/early 2010, John J. Heney (on his own behalf, not on behalf of the archives community) suggested the name William Pittman Lett. At the same time, the Ottawa Public Library Board suggested the name Claude Aubry. The OPL Board and Mr. Heney met twice. The Board came with the idea of suggesting a hyphenated name: Aubry-Lett or Lett-Aubry, recognizing the two well-known Ottawans who made their mark in the record keeping/archives and library sectors. Mr. Heney was present during the discussions and he did not disagree. The suggestion of a hyphenated name had resonance with both parties by recognizing both men. Years ago, City Hall had named a facility in the same fashion: the Karsh-Masson gallery. The Aubry-Lett and/or Lett-Aubry hyphenated name proposal seemed to have gone nowhere, and as we all know, City Hall ignored the individual proposals and the hyphenated proposals.
In conclusion, we would like to add that the signatories of the press release do not represent any side: library or archives. None of us represent or work for the Ottawa Public Library. In fact, two of the three signatories of the press release have close links to heritage/archives, and one of us is a professional archivist.