Library and Archives Canada will no longer have staff on hand to answer the public's questions without an appointment as it sheds 20 per cent of its workforce.
A spokesman for Library and Archives Canada confirmed to The Globe and Mail that the current workforce of 1,065 will be reduced to 850 people over the next three years, as a result of the 2012 federal budget cuts.
On Monday, 450 staff received notices that their positions could be "affected" by cuts. The numbers from the spokesman indicate that the end goal is to eliminate 215 positions, some of which could occur through attrition by not replacing staff who retire or leave for another job.
The Library and Archives building is just west of Parliament Hill and the Supreme Court on Wellington Street in Ottawa. It houses government records that pre-date Confederation, as well as an extensive collection of non-government items such as genealogical records, sports memorabilia, art and newspapers.
Its website outlines a plan already underway that will be phased in to save money with fewer staff.
As of last month, all reference services from the library's researchers will be by appointment only.
The website says the goal of Library and Archives is "to shift its service model from a largely in-person approach to service to a largely unmediated (self-serve) approach focused on enhanced virtual access to content and services," it states.
The library receives about 2,000 in-person visits per month, a statistic that is declining "slowly but steadily." In contrast, the Library and Archives website receives close to half a million visits per month. The new approach will involve more videoconferencing to help Canadians use the archives online.