Liberal Fisheries Critic Lawrence MacAulay has asked Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea to reverse the closure of seven departmental libraries ‘for the good of the country.”
In a letter to his fellow PEI MP dated Jan. 15, MacAulay indicated the libraries were, “State of the art facilities which contained information and documents which were extremely valuable to government officials and scientists.”
He asked the minister if she was prepared to stand by her claim the move will pay dividends to Canadian taxpayers.
“Was it not enough that DFO has already downloaded numerous costs and responsibilities onto the backs of Canadian fishers, slashed or ended crucial programs such as the Ocean Contaminants and Marine Toxicology Program, the Experimental Lakes Area, the Institute of Ocean Sciences, the Habitat Management Program, the Freshwater Institute, the Bamfield Marine Science Centre, the Kluane Lake Research Station, or any number of Search and Rescue, Marine Communication and Traffic Services centres, or Fisheries Licensing offices?” he said. “Is there no end to this madness?”
He called for the decision to be reversed and destruction of resources contained at the libraries stopped.
“The fact is the buck stops with you – you are responsible for the decision to close these state of the art facilities. You are responsible for how improperly this was handled and for neglecting to consult with all public officials and scientists who work at or use these facilities,” he wrote. “You are responsible for the trucks and dumpsters which have been filled with the libraries’ holdings. And Minister it is only you who can change the course of the department of fisheries and oceans. For the sake of the future of our country, I strongly urge you to do just that.”
NOTE TO READERS:
In early January Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, had issued the following statement:
Serious misinformation was spread recently about the consolidation of Department of Fisheries and Oceans libraries. Let me correct the record.
DFO owns one of the world's most comprehensive collections of information on fisheries, aquatic sciences and nautical sciences. Our Government values these collections and will continue to strongly support it by continuing to add new material on an ongoing basis.
The decision to consolidate our network of libraries was based on value for taxpayers. The primary users of DFO libraries, over 86%, are employees of the Department. An average of only five to 12 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.
Users of these libraries clearly prefer to access its information digitally, which the Department of Fisheries and Oceans can accommodate while also saving taxpayers money. In 2011, for example, over 95% of the total documents provided to users were provided digitally through self-service or library-staff virtually assisted service.
Users will continue to have completely free access to every item in DFO’s collections. All materials for which DFO has copyright will be preserved by the Department.
Duplicate materials, including books, from the libraries being consolidated were offered to other libraries and third parties if they wanted them. They were also offered to the DFO staff on site at the library, then offered to the general public, and finally were recycled in a "green" fashion if there were no takers. It is absolutely false to insinuate that any books were burnt.
Our Government is proud to stand up for taxpayers while retaining our important scientific knowledge.