Harper closes aquatic research libraries

Brent Patterson
6 years ago

The Globe and Mail reports, "Scientists knew last spring that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans was closing seven of its 11 regional libraries housing decades of aquatic research. But it was not until they saw the shelves being cleared, the books and journals being scooped up for free by private companies, and the scientific reports being hauled off to the dumpster that the magnitude of the purge hit home."


Dalhousie University professor Peter Wells says, “I see this situation as a national tragedy, done under the pretext of cost savings, which, when examined closely, will prove to be a false motive. A modern democratic society should value its information resources, not reduce, or worse, trash them.” A former DFO regional director Burton Ayles says, “It’s a loss of historic material, it’s a loss of the grey [not widely published] literature.” 

The article adds, "Dr. Ayles pointed to a collection of three-ringed binders, occupying seven metres of shelf space, that contained the data collected during a study in the 1960s and 1970s of the proposed Mackenzie Valley pipeline."

One of the libraries being closed is located at the Freshwater Institute in Winnipeg. The Experimental Lakes Area was also partially based at that location (as well as at facilities 250 kilometres east of Winnipeg). In May 2012, the Harper government announced that it would close the ELA by April 2013 as a cost-cutting measure. After an intensive campaign, the provincial governments of Ontario and Manitoba agreed to cover the costs of the ELA.

The Harper government says the library closures will save $430,000 a year.

In an interesting contrast, the Canadian Press reported in November 2013, "The Conservative government is spending $40 million this year to advertise Canada's natural resource sector — principally oil and gas — at home and abroad ($24 million for advertising abroad and $16.5 million for the domestic market)."

The Harper government continues to spend on spin rather than science.

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has commented, "The Harper government is gutting all and any tools, rules, and science projects that stand in the way of corporate abuse of our freshwater heritage."

Further reading
Librarians and archivists muzzled by Harper government
New York Times editorial writer says Harper silencing scientists
Harper's clampdown on science and the Experimental Lakes Area

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