@*@ Header
@*@ Single

A mountain of documents seen in a huge dumpster at the Mont Joli Quebec DFO library late last year.
Photo Credit: Radio-Canada

Closing of Canadian fisheries libraries alarms scientists

An effort at federal cost-cutting has marine scientists and researchers across Canada and elsewhere shocked and dismayed.

Announced last year, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is closing 7 of its 11 specialized libraries across the country in order to save money.

DFO officials say they are getting rid of duplicate books and research documents, and digitizing the rest of the approximately 600-thousand books and research documents, some of which go back more than 100 years.

Jeff Hutchings is one of many researchers concerned that irreplaceable research may be lost, and that access to remaining material will become more difficult. He is an internationally respected professor of Biology at Dalhousie University in Halifax Nova Scotia. Professor Hutchings is also named as Canada Research Chair in marine conservation and biology.

Listen
null
Dr Jeff Hutchings, Canada Research Chair in marine conservation and biology. One of many scientists who feel the library closures are a great loss to science for minimal financial benefit. © CBC

DFO says it will save over 400-thousand dollars next year by closing the libraries and consolidating the information in remaining libraries.

Professor Hutchings says while this provides a slight financial benefit, the intangible costs are far greater. He says this comes in the form of the loss of access to reliable information on marine issues available to decision-makers, and a loss of historical and research documentation available to scientists.

He notes that each of these libraries holds scientific research information about environmental, water, and aquatic life specific to that region. He expresses concern that such unique information may be lost forever.

There is also doubt about DFO claims that only duplicates of books and documents are being discarded. He wonders who is keeping track of what is held and where, and if it’s even known what are duplicates.
He also points out some conflicting messages coming from DFO regarding the digitizing of its holdings, and suggests that from experience, hands on research has certain advantages over online searches which depend on the flexibility of the search engines, and the ability to determine the right key words, which can be far more complex a task when dealing with specialized scientific research.

With Canada’s enormous geographical size, closing the libraries across the country and consolidating information in locations on either coast also poses distance difficulties for researchers.

null
Interior of Winnipeg, Manitoba DFO library before the closure announcement. One researcher recently said he found mounds of research books and documents scattered all over the floor but managed to cart away a few box loads to save them. © CBC

Professor Hutchings notes that many international researchers are also surprised and dismayed at the government decision especially in light of the vast number of lakes, rivers and enormous three-ocean coastline of Canada.

“short-sighted, based on poor advice, at a rather large societal cost”

He says that it’s easy to shut down services like this, but once they are gone, it’s extremely difficult and costly to resurrect them.  He calls the decision “short-sighted” and says it was based on poor information and poor advice and will reap “minimal benefit for a rather large and unfortunate societal cost”

Dalhousie University, Dr Jeffrey Hutchings

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Environment, Politics, Science and Technology
@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

*

 characters available

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current day month ye@r *

3 comments on “Closing of Canadian fisheries libraries alarms scientists
  1. benalbanach says:

    As the man said, “You won’t recognize this country by the time I’ve finished with it ! “.

  2. Jen says:

    Perhaps they could offer the books for free to anyone who would want them to keep them from being destroyed.

  3. Janne Perrin says:

    Shameful, short sighted and reminiscent of what happened in the dark ages – burning books!