NDP’s Cleary bemoans loss of library materials; department says much of collection digitized
Work to consolidate Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) libraries from 11 to four across Canada is underway in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Some of the materials stored in a building on Mews Place in St. John’s are being packed away to be shipped to the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Nova Scotia. But there are concerns some of those materials will be lost forever.
“The Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries are unlike any other fisheries on the East Coast of Canada, or in (all of) Canada,” said St. John’s South-Mount Pearl NDP MP Ryan Cleary.
“We have all sorts of information about the unique Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries that are no longer going to be housed in DFO Newfoundland, and I see that as yet another affront in a long list of affronts to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in terms of our fishery and how it has been managed by the Government of Canada.”
The library at the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre closed several years ago. It served DFO staff along with students and staff from Memorial University and provincial government employees. Materials from the site were subsequently placed in storage.
Federal government plans to consolidate DFO libraries were announced in the 2012 budget.
A DFO spokesman told The Telegram in an email that all currently available resources will remain available to DFO employees and the public. He said much of DFO’s collection has been digitized, adding more digitization work has been done since plans were announced to consolidate the libraries.
Documents from St. John’s that are not going to Bedford have been offered to departmental staff, and the spokesman said universities and other local groups have been contacted to gauge interest in acquiring non-DFO related materials.
The remainder of those materials will be recycled or “disposed of in an environmentally appropriate manner.”
A former DFO official who contacted The Telegram raised concerns about the potential loss of data relevant to the fishery’s history in Newfoundland and Labrador, including annual reports from the first half of the 20th century and historic monographs documenting early marine exploratory expeditions in the 1800s and early 20th century.
Cleary calls the move to take materials out of the province a further step in efforts to reduce DFO’s effectiveness.
“If you look at the big picture of all of this — DFO library, constant cuts over the years — this follows the trend of what’s been happening.”