Two reports including a list of Canadian government library closings since 2012.
Note: This Article Includes a List of Canadian Government Libraries Closed Since 2012
When Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration library closed its doors in the fall of 2012, head librarian Charlene Elgee wasn’t just worried about the loss of her job. She also feared that important documents she had immersed herself in for more than a decade would become unattainable to researchers.
“There’s a loss of accessibility,” Elgee said. “This material belongs to Canadians and I’m so afraid that some of this stuff will be lost forever if we don’t look after it.”
“With libraries closing, there’s content in those libraries that’s no longer available to the users — be they researchers, members of the public, people who are developing policy in government departments — and that’s always worrying,” said Marie DeYoung, president of the Canadian Library Association and librarian at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.
The closing of seven regional libraries in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the quiet elimination of more than two dozen libraries in other departments, might otherwise have passed largely unnoticed, given the modest cost savings.
According to government documents, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans estimates that the consolidation will save 443,000 Canadian dollars, or about $405,000, in 2014-15.
Moreover, librarians said, digitization is no panacea. “There’s a lot more going on under the hood than just chucking it through the scanner,” said Erin Patterson, a librarian at Acadia University in Nova Scotia who heads the Librarians and Archivists Committee of the Canadian Association of University Teachers.
“You need to have metadata attached to the item so it’s searchable, findable,” she said. “You need to have databases to store those individual items, you need to have user interfaces so people can retrieve them, you need search algorithms so they can be found, you need software so people can display them once you retrieve them, and all these steps involve technology that’s changing constantly.”