St. Croix Courier – March 28, 2013
at Biological Station to close as planned
Despite all the efforts of the Save Ocean Sciences Committee (SOS) to persuade the federal government to change its mind, the library at the Biological Station will be closing as planned.
SOS is a group formed last spring to raise concerns about continuing cuts to the station's science capacity and the closure of the library.
Since its formation, SOS has held a public information rally attended by 200 people and a demonstration with about 600 people in attendance who formed an SOS for an aerial photograph.
In an email Tuesday, New Brunswick Southwest MP John Williamson stated that closure of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans library at Saint Andrews will proceed as planned, with resources relocated to two library centres, one on each coast.
Williamson said these two libraries will reply to requests on a demand basis just as universities do. For example, electronic copies will be available and when a physical document is required it will be sent, just as the law librarian at the University of New Brunswick requests and receives information from the Osgoode Law Library.
In total, seven DFO libraries will close. Williamson said these closures are happening to consolidate information and expertise while realizing cost' savings for Canadian taxpayers.
With regard to a proposal from the Huntsman Marine Science Centre to assist in maintaining some services by staffing the library, he said
DFO was concerned over liability issues and working conditions, and rejected the proposal.
He claimed the current federal government had made a significant investment to construct a modern building for the biological station.
That doesn't change the fact that seven jobs have been lost, stated Saint Andrews Mayor Stan Choptiany, who said the closure is "most disappointing news."
"The loss of these positions impacts the community. I think there is a well documented case that the removal of the library impacts the ability to do science and from the town's standpoint, it is regrettable. Carolyn (Davies - chair of SOS) has worked extremely hard on this." Davies could not be reached for comment as she is away at present. .
At Monday night's St. Stephen town council, meeting, after Nancy Aiken of SOS made a presentation, that town's council approved a motion to write a letter of support for retaining the library at the Biological Station.
She said the committee had requested a meeting with fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield to discuss a proposal that would identify an operational plan which would maintain the library and meet, if not exceed, DFO's federal cost reduction and efficiency objectives but had yet to receive an acknowledgement.
She said closing the library will, contrary to Williamson's claims, end up costing money.
New Brunswick, especially the southwestern part of the province, has. a marine-based economy, said Aiken, and the research of nearly 20 organizations and agencies has been drawn to the resources of the Biological Station library. .
Some of the holdings will be digitized, said Aiken, but because of copyright laws, most cannot and there is no assurance that library resource access will be available to non-DFO users.
The committee's proposal to Ashfield stressed that organizations such as the Huntsman, UNB, UNBSJ and the Atlantic Fish Farmers Association depend on the station's extensive library holdings but that information source may no longer be available.
"We have a strong economic base in the fisheries in New Brunswick. The federal government should be helping to foster this industry, helping it grow, making it sustainable and more valuable."
Without the library, quality and relevant marine research can- . not be done and Canada will lose its place of respect in marine research in the world, said Aiken.
SOS has investigated the possibility of alternate funding, she said, and is confident that nongovernment funding for library staff can 'be obtained - which would save taxpayers' money.
"This state-of-the-art, one year-old $4 million library needs to remain for the purpose it was built..., If the closure of the SABS library goes as planned, it will result in economic, social and cultural deterioration for Charlotte County."
Aiken, said when she heard Williamson's news Tuesday she was very sad and said "this will prove to have been an ill thought out decision."
"I am further disappointed that Williamson chose to make this announcement to the press before he acknowledged the SOS letter of Mar. 3 and I am further disappointed that this announcement came from MP Williamson and not from the Minister of Fisheries Keith Ashfield." .
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