The four priorities set out in the Library’s strategic plan, Strategic Outlook 2012–2017, drive all our improvement activities. As we worked to welcome a new Parliament in 2015, the Library built systems for reaching out to new and returning members and demonstrated how the Library can support them. We also placed great emphasis on improving digital access to Library products and services.
The Library focuses on providing parliamentarians and their staff with easy access to our products and services to help them in their various roles. We understand the work of parliamentarians and sort through a vast number of resources to deliver reliable and non-partisan information tailored to their needs.
Increasingly, parliamentarians are relying on quick and direct digital access to Library information and resources, whether they are in the Chambers, in committees, or travelling in their constituencies or overseas.
This priority took on added importance in 2015–2016 as the Library welcomed a new Parliament – and anticipated a significant increase in requests for service.
Parliamentarians – particularly new members – are inundated with information as they begin a new Parliament. In 2015–2016, in anticipation of the 42nd Parliament, the Library implemented a more strategic approach for managing and delivering relevant information to parliamentarians at a time when and in a way in which they could consume it.
Perhaps most important, we interviewed members who indicated that they would not seek re-election to learn which products and services they had found to be of greatest value and to discuss ways to improve our communication and outreach efforts. This enabled us to achieve a service model that put the needs and preferences of parliamentarians first.
The Library recognizes that its employees’ skills and expertise are its key assets in delivering services to parliamentarians and implementing plans and priorities throughout the organization – including keeping parliamentarians informed about the Library’s products and services. The Library is committed to developing and retaining its talent by putting work tools, learning support and other processes in place that develop our employees’ acquisition of knowledge, their understanding of emerging information and their delivery of world-class service.
To mark the 140th anniversary of the opening of the current Library of Parliament building, the Royal Canadian Mint produced its first concave coin. It features the amazing detail of the Library’s architecture as seen from beneath the domed ceiling of the Main Library.
The Library delivers a wide range of products and services to parliamentarians and Canadians. From written reports and analyses of highly technical subject matter to instructional videos and sleek infographics, all our products and services must be of the highest possible quality – accurate, timely, non-partisan and easy to understand.
The Library is uniquely positioned to wade through the sea of information available to parliamentarians and present it to them in a coherent and efficient manner. In preparing for and welcoming a new Parliament, we improved a number of Library products by enhancing their readability and focusing on digital-first production.
In 2015–2016, the Library experienced especially high demand for research and information services following the 42nd federal general election. In the months following the opening of the new Parliament, 97% of new parliamentarians submitted a request for our products and services. We also supported parliamentary committees, associations and delegations by providing custom research and analysis, information and reference services.
* In-person briefings, commissioned research notes, short briefing papers or substantive research papers are offered in response to requests from individual parliamentarians and the Governor General, parliamentary committees, parliamentary associations and delegations (oral briefings, in-depth analyses of policy issues or proposed legislation, comparative and interpretative analysis, statistical analysis, briefing notes, speaking points, country papers, work plans, draft letters, draft communiqués, and draft committee and association reports).
** Responses to information requests include the timely provision of basic information, fact checking, customized information searches, and copies of news items, official publications or other documents (information searches, bibliographic information, substantive reference support, guidance and orientation for Library of Parliament services and products, and dissemination).
*** Other authorized users for research and analysis include, for example, the Governor General and parliamentary employees. Other users who are eligible to receive information and reference services include, for example, the Governor General, the Prime Minister's Office, the Privy Council Office, Privy Councillors and former parliamentarians, caucus research staff, members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, and legislative libraries and research organizations.
The Library answered thousands of requests for research and analysis to check facts, find statistics, and locate documents and other information swiftly and confidentially. We did this in person, over the phone and online – using whichever method was most convenient for Library users. We also used social media to deliver timely and reliable information about current issues, products and services.
The Library’s highly specialized subject-matter experts provided Senate and House of Commons parliamentary committees and associations with confidential, non-partisan research and analysis services in a wide range of subject areas. Analysts assigned to committees helped with research, synthesized materials and provided reliable, authoritative and neutral information relevant to the committees’ mandates.
The Library played a central role in keeping parliamentarians and their staff informed about current issues and events. Library tools and expert staff provided access to Canadian and international news and current affairs in multiple formats – many of which could be accessed from mobile devices. We also ran seminars on topics of interest to the parliamentary community.
The Library served an important function by continuing to preserve its collections for future generations. We did this, as always, in a manner that provided parliamentarians and all Canadians with the best possible access to Parliament’s documentary heritage.
The Library continued to offer programs at Parliament, such as guided tours of Centre Block and East Block and the 19th edition of the Teachers Institute on Canadian Parliamentary Democracy, in addition to online and print resources.
The Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer provides economic and financial analysis to parliamentarians and the committees on which they serve. In 2015–2016, the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) supported parliamentarians with a number of reports that helped them make informed decisions about the government’s work.
A new and improved website
The PBO took steps in 2015–2016 to make his work more accessible and useful to parliamentarians in preparation for the 42nd Parliament. As one example, in October the PBO launched a new website, which includes a “blog portal” that summarizes the findings of new reports and includes tables and infographics that illustrate the reports’ conclusions.
Reporting for new parliamentarians
Among the reports published by the PBO in 2015–2016 were several that sought to provide new parliamentarians with a sense of Canada’s economic and financial context and help them scrutinize the policy choices of the new government formed in October 2015.
Greater access to information
Among the most significant challenges faced by the PBO since 2008 is access to information. In March 2015, the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament stated that when federal departments refuse to provide information, the PBO should refer the matter to the Senate Standing Committee on National Finance and the House of Commons Standing Committees on Finance and on Public Accounts. The PBO did not have to resort to this remedy in 2015–2016, when a marked increase over previous years was seen in successful information requests: 12 of the 14 requests made were complied with, while the two requests that weren’t successful received proper justification.
The prospect of reform
In October 2015, the new government committed to reforming several aspects of the financial cycle, including many that affect the work of the PBO. Commitments include bolstering the PBO’s independence, refocusing the PBO’s mandate on such costing issues as election promises made by political parties in future general election campaigns, and providing the PBO with both the information required to fulfill an expanded mandate and an associated increase in resources.
The PBO recognizes that these commitments are in line with the principles set out by international organizations for independent fiscal institutions. The PBO looks forward to working with all parliamentarians as they consider how best to implement these commitments.
Library of Parliament Budget, 2015–2016
* Includes contributions to employee benefit plans.
** Full-time equivalents. Does not include guides and students.
Library of Parliament Spending Trends
($ millions )
SPEAKERS OF THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
STANDING JOINT COMMITTEE ON THE LIBRARY OF PARLIAMENT
Composed of Senators and of Members of Parliament, responsible for advising the Speakers on the operations of the Library.
LIBRARY OF PARLIAMENT
Exercises control and management of the Library, and has the status of a Deputy Head, reporting to the two Speakers.
PARLIAMENTARY INFORMATION AND RESEARCH SERVICE
Provides parliamentarians with news, reference, research and analysis services and oversees the Library’s public education programs and the seminars for parliamentarians and their staff. This service area is also the steward for the Parliamentary Poet Laureate.
PARLIAMENTARY BUDGET OFFICER
Provides independent analysis to Parliament about the state of the nation’s finances, government estimates and trends in the national economy.
INFORMATION AND DOCUMENT RESOURCE SERVICE
Builds, manages, preserves and optimizes access to the Library’s resources and collections; compiles and disseminates historical information about Parliament and parliamentarians.
BUSINESS SUPPORT SERVICES
Provides business support and services to the Library of Parliament.
* These numbers can vary from year to year due to Senate or House of Commons seats becoming vacant.
** The number of Members of Parliament increased to 338 for the 42nd Parliament.
* Includes special committees and subcommittees other than those focused on agenda and procedure.