Consolidation and closure of several Department of Fisheries and Oceans libraries, and the downsizing of the Department’s library collections

Vince Graziano
Chair, Concordia University Faculty Association Librarians’ Assembly
Webster Library, LB 285-3
1455 de Maisonneuve West Blvd.
Montréal, QC
H3G 1M8

June 18, 2014

The Honourable Gail Shea, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0E6

Dear Minister:

Concordia University Faculty Association Librarians are troubled by your government’s recent consolidation and closure of several Department of Fisheries and Oceans libraries, and the downsizing of the Department’s library collections.

We understand that libraries are changing and evolving in fundamental ways, and that their collections and services need to be reviewed to ensure that they continue to provide relevant support and resources to researchers and Canadians as a whole. However, we are concerned about the decreased level of service to researchers and the general public, through cutting jobs of librarians and library technicians. The knowledge of these information professionals is deep and valuable; surely some way can be found to trim costs without sacrificing this core service to researchers.

It is also troubling to us that the criteria for withdrawal of materials from these collections have not been transparent. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has said that “The Department has removed duplicates from its collections, and content not required to support the department’s mandate” (DFO Libraries FAQ, accessed May 23, 2014) and that the collections were analyzed according to DFO’s Library Collection Development and Management Guideline. While we are encouraged to hear that this Guideline was approved by the library governance committee, we can’t find any publicly available information that gives more detail on what items were discarded, or how many items were discarded. These are public records, and Canadians deserve to know how they are being managed.

The DFO has also said that it is digitizing documents on demand, which is a good service to users, and that “DFO libraries are mandated by Treasury Board policy to collect, preserve and make accessible all DFO/CCG publications… Those which are only in print form can be digitized on demand. The resulting items in digitized format are preserved, catalogued in WAVES and made available on the internet” (DFO Libraries FAQ, accessed May 30, 2014). Can you explain what your policy is for keeping the printed versions of documents for which the DFO holds copyright, and which have been digitized? Also, how are online versions being archived for future generations?

We urge the Government of Canada to increase its level of discussion and dialogue with Canadian library associations, research communities, and other stakeholders, so as to help inform and seek input from Canadians on the decisions being taken regarding collections and services that affect the quality of Canada’s scientific research.

Yours sincerely,

Vince Graziano, on behalf of Concordia University Faculty Association Librarians

cc: ​The Honourable Mr. Thomas Mulcair, M.P., P.C. Leader of the Official Opposition
​Mr. Justin Trudeau, M.P., Leader of the Liberal Party
Ms. Elizabeth May, M.P., Leader of the Green Party
​Mr. Kennedy Stewart, M.P., NDP Science and Technology Critic
Mr. Ted Hsu, M.P., Liberal Party Critic for Science and Technology
Ms. Janice Harvey, Green Party Fisheries Critic
Ms. Valoree McKay, Executive Director, Canadian Libraries Association
Executive Director, Canadian Association of University Teachers
President, Concordia Students’ Union
Concordia University Faculty Association