A supporter sent us this moving letter from concerned citizens in Kenora to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Minister of the Environment, and the Minister of State for Science and Technology regarding the closure of many federal science libraries across the country. Here is an excerpt:
We are worried and concerned about the elimination and doom of DFO programs and libraries and Canada’s ability to do science which will protect the natural world.
Seven libraries, including the Eric Marshall Library of the Freshwater Institute at the University of Manitoba and the St. Andrews Biological Station in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, are being closed down.
Burt Ayles described the Marshall library as “world class” with one of the “finest environmental science and freshwater book collections in the world.” It was, he says, “the best in Canada.” The retired scientist and a regional director general for freshwater, should know. Rachel Carson, author, who wrote Silent Spring, used the St. Andrews library to do research about toxins.
The closures are part of a trend in the federal government to dismantle libraries. For example, Environment Canada is closing libraries in Winnipeg, Calgary Edmonton, Yellowknife, Quebec City and Sackville New Brunswick
You claim that this is “value for taxpayers?”
The St. Andrews Station is brand new, and cost several million taxpayer dollars. Does its closure constitute “value for taxpayers?”
You say that the preference of researchers is to access material “digitally”; however, what you have not said is how much of the material which was discarded, given away to others or destroyed, was in fact, digitized. The entire process appears ill-advised, ill-planned and haphazard.
Dr. Peter Wells, adjunct professor and senior research fellow at the International Ocean Institute at Dalhousie University in Halifax states that much of the material in DFO libraries was never available digitally.
He also points out the historic value of the holdings—some going back to the 1800’s. These studies provide baseline data upon which to record changes in water levels, water flows, types and density of fish populations and a myriad of other indicators of change in the natural world. And it is not simply that the documents provide an historical record; they are worth preserving in their original form, as an example of early research and research methods. Science, like the military or government, has a history which we must preserve.
You can read the full letter here.
Make sure to sign our petition save our science libraries.