Consolidating holdings- “Libricide” at DFO

farenheit-451-book-burning-vintage-cover

It’s a wonder that one might find such a strong link between Ray Bradbury and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

This post was recently sent to me by another concerned scientist (my apologies for taking so long to get it up- remote field work and writing blogs is a challenging mix..)

http://pastebin.com/kvSNLYtA

It describes what’s happening with the consolidation of all 9 of DFO’s libraries across the country to just two- one in BC and one in Halifax.

It also provides a link to an image described as “the Maurice Lamontagne Institute library in Mont Joli, Qu├ębec in a dumpster.” Here’s the photo:

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I’d be horrified if I was seeing this for the first time, but I am watching the same thing happening in my building, to my library. We’re assured at the moment that it’s all duplicate holdings for what’s at other libraries, but it’s a terrifying sight all the same. Talking to the Librarian, they won’t even have an electronic catalogue of what’s there finished in time before she retires and they really start dumping things. Once again, it’s seems to be a fantastic example of process before practicality- follow the impossible timelines for consolidation rather than do it correctly and ensure to aren’t tossing anything really rare or valuable. There are still practical questions as to how the material that isn’t tossed will be moved and ultimately stored at the new facilities- I was previously unaware that either library in BC or Halifax had reams of available shelf space to accommodate 4.5 libraries each within their current holdings.

Why should we care about the holdings in these DFO libraries? Quite simply, you can’t find much of it anywhere else. A ton of what’s in these libraries are what’s commonly referred to as the “grey literature”; Scientific work that may have received varying levels of peer review, published as government, consultant or agency reports. 99% of which is nearly impossible to find, unless you happen to talk to the librarian who knows just right where it is in your library. You’d be surprised at how often a lot of this grey literature gets cited, particularly in review articles, books, state-of-the-resource type publications, where the data that’s in them is really the valuable component, and which has never been published in the peer-reviewed (and easily catalogued and searchable) scientific literature.

While it may not be going on in public, we should all be concerned about the current libricide being conducted by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

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3 thoughts on “Consolidating holdings- “Libricide” at DFO

  1. Wow that is just horrible. I had heard about the move to close DFO libraries, but I didn’t realize they were just *throwing* these records away! I would love to steal that bin and park it in my back yard… Can’t anyone rescue them?
    P.S. Hope you’re at least having some fun with your field work…. that’s always been my favourite part of research :)

    • I would encourage you to call the front desk of your local DFO institute and ask to speak with a librarian to see what they say about a member of the public retrieving material that would otherwise be disposed of- I’d be very interested in the reply you get. I’ve seen some e-mails circulated among staff saying “here’s what we are tossing because we think it’s elsewhere”, but there’s still thousands upon thousands of records that aren’t even catalogued- and have no idea how they will be handled.

  2. As a former employee of DFO Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, BC I am dismayed that the Pacific Biological Station library is also being closed, some things shipped out, some given away, some will presumably be trashed. When I retired I provided some of my personally purchased books to the library as I thought they would be of use to others. Our senior librarian was also the unofficial archivist, keeping track of records, papers, documents and photographs of PBS history. His job is gone, he is gone and one can only hope that these materials have found another protector / safe harbour. How short sighted is this government? I estimate a little over 2 yrs.

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