The Progressive Librarians Guild, London Chapter, strongly condemns the recent closure of Federal departmental and science libraries. We believe that the justification for the closures is false, and that the lose of the library’s resources and skills of the librarians will be devastating to the federal departments, scientific research, and the Canadian public.
According to a statement by the Minister of Fisheries and Ocean, “The primary users of DFO libraries, over 86%, are employees of the Department. An average of only five to twelve people who work outside of DFO visited our eleven libraries each year. It is not fair to taxpayers to make them pay for libraries that so few people actually used.” This shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of federal libraries, which is to serve the public by being a resource for government researchers and scientists. The libraries’ value is not indicated by how often the public accesses them, but rather by the information they provide to federal workers. These libraries provide essential support and services to their departments. Many of the librarians have specialised skills, and many government libraries hold (or held) unique collections relevant to the departments they serve. With these budget cuts, services to Canadians will be negatively affected.*
Along with the closing of physical buildings, much of the materials collected in these libraries have been either moved into storage, given to other organisations, or destroyed. In March of 2013, the physical collection of the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development (HRSDC) was phased out. This included the largest collection of books in Canada on the social sciences. Without these materials, the department will be less able to make informed policy decisions and provide accurate advice to Cabinet.
We call on the current government to reinstate funding to Library and Archives Canada, and to commit itself to supporting the federal library system, as opposed to continuing their assault upon it.
List of Library closures from the Canadian Association of University Teachers
LAC’s Staff Resource Center closed on November 1, 2012.
As of April 2013, the Public Service Commission (PSC) was in the process of closing. Plans regarding the disposition of PSC’s Library collection had not been finalized.
Citizenship and Immigration (CIC)
The CIC library closed on March 31, 2012.
National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy was eliminated. Its library was closed on March 31, 2013.
The Documentation Service and library of the Canadian Cultural Centre at the Canadian Embassy in Paris closed on June 21, 2012.
Human Resources and Skills Development
HRSDC closed its libraries in Gatineau, Quebec, and Montreal on March 31, 2013.
National Capital Commission
National Capital Commission Library closed in 2012.
Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is expected to significantly reduce and eventually close its library.
Public Works and Government Services
PWGSC closed its library on May 31, 2012.
Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
Transport Canada closed its library in 2012.
Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)
CRA is consolidating its nine existing libraries into one, the location of which has yet to be determined. Environment Canada
Parks Canada will consolidate five libraries into one. Regional libraries located in Calgary, Winnipeg, Quebec City, and Halifax will be consolidated into the Cornwall, Ontario location.
Fisheries and Oceans (DFO)
The DFO will close seven of its libraries, leaving two principal and two subsidiary locations. Consolidation completed September 2012. Researchers have serious concerns about the consolidation and de-accessioning process which insiders indicate was not well thought out and has been rushed.
Natural Resources Canada is set to close six of fourteen libraries in 2012-2013: two in Ottawa, one in Varennes, Quebec; one in Edmonton, Alberta; and another in western Canada. In 2014, another Ottawa library will be closed.