The Canadian Library Association (CLA) has released a Statement regarding Federal Government Library Consolidation and Closure:
"(...) the recent consolidation and closure of several Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and Health Canada libraries has raised a number of particular concerns about the process by which the departments are closing libraries and preserving – or disposing of – materials in their collections (...)"
"The Government of Canada has consistently maintained that these closures are part of an ongoing and planned digitization program that will reduce costs. DFO has also made assurances that library closures will not come at the expense of significant reductions in the availability of holdings; however, CLA has received reports that valuable materials are being lost due to the haste of these library closures."
"These reports are disconcerting, particularly as there does not appear to be a long-term plan in place to ensure the preservation and continued availability of unique materials not already digitized. Canadians deserve to know how these valuable materials will be preserved and, furthermore, how the material can be accessed in the future. The library community has rallied around these issues and has tried to contribute to solutions for these challenges. For example, post-secondary institutions, such as Carleton University, have integrated some key documents into their collections. There is much more to be done."
"As noted above, the plans to digitize collections are unclear. CLA appreciates that digitization can provide enhanced access to materials for employees, researchers, and the broader public. However, digitization is a long-term, labour intensive process. Given the sheer volume of material destined for digitization, the role of library and information professionals will be critical. It is essential that government use this expertise to manage and curate this material. CLA has received no assurances from the Government of Canada that such a process is in place; on the contrary, CLA has seen official documentation indicating there is no long-term digital strategy in place in many departments, including the DFO."
"The “question and answer” document released on December 19, 2013 to help clarify the DFO library closure process was a good first step toward improved communication on the government’s plans; however, the government’s plans for the preservation of and access to the valuable material remain unclear. CLA requests transparency in matters relating to the management of publicly owned records and collections held by Departmental libraries and LAC, including further information regarding the preservation of and access to the information that was in all closed federal libraries. "
Labels: digitization, government of Canada, libraries, preservation