Note: Along with the story (1500+ words) that we highlight below the article also includes a sidebar with info about 13 Canadian government libraries either consolidated or closed during 2012 and 2013.
Last week the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which is closing five of its seven libraries, allowed scientists, consultants and members of the public to scavenge through what remained of Eric Marshall Library belonging to the Freshwater Institute at the University of Manitoba.
Nearly 40,000 books and papers were relocated to a federal library in Sidney, B.C.
“It was a world class library with some of the finest environmental science and freshwater book collections in the world. It was certainly the best in Canada, but it’s no more,” said Burt Ayles, a 68-year-old retired research scientist and former regional director general for freshwaters in central Canada and the Arctic.
Established in 1973, when foreign governments hailed Canada as a world leader in freshwater science and protection, the library housed tens of thousands of reports, maps, charts and books, including material dating back to the 1880s.
The loss of this library and its impact on fisheries and environmental science is equivalent to Rome destroying the Royal Library of Alexandria in Egypt. It’s equal to that,” said Ayles. At the time, Alexandria boasted the world’s largest collection in the ancient world.
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