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posted Apr 18, 2013, 12:26 PM by SOS SaveOceanScience   [ updated Apr 18, 2013, 6:34 PM ]

 Saint Croix Courier/Courier Weekend                   Wednesday April 17, 2013

 Letter to the Editor

 The SABS Library closure is highly damaging to the local economy, to regional marine science, and to Canada’s international reputation in the ocean’s sector.

 The Federal Government must initiate three actions essential to maintaining St. Andrews, NB, as a leading marine fisheries and aquatic sciences hub in Canada:

(1)  Reverse the decision to close the Marine Science Library at the Biological Station, St Andrews, NB, and immediately stop the movement of materials from the region;

(2)  Reverse the decision on job layoffs and give the affected highly trained information professionals back their positions; and

(3)  Move towards developing and implementing a policy of running the Library with other groups in the St. Andrews and Charlotte County community, especially the Huntsman Marine Science Centre (HMSC).

 Why am I concerned?  I started my marine science career at St. Andrews in 1969, conducting fisheries and pollution studies on crabs and lobsters there until 1974. As a graduate student at Huntsman and SABS, I relied heavily upon Library resources and its technical (grey) literature and irreplaceable archival materials, a story common for all researchers, young and old, who have studied and started their careers at St. Andrews.

 While preparing for the SABS Marine Science History Conference in 2008, I depended upon the Library and its trained information professionals to find materials crucial to writing a historical overview of the Station’s environmental science. I used many reports that are not digitized and other information that likely never will be (e.g., photographs).  The Library holds much information of value primarily at the SABS location, is of inestimable value to new researchers at SABS and HMSC, is critical to science historians, and that if lost would impact the fisheries, aquaculture, and marine science community in New Brunswick, and beyond. It is a complete myth that all printed information of value is going to be digitized and available and accessible on the web.

DFO’s decision relied on guidance from Ottawa staff and their Library Collection Development and Management Policy.  This policy ignores the full function and value of a marine science library to the health and vitality of a research institute and its local community, and to the needs of its scientists and local marine-based industry.  Without conducting a defensible audit, the Library closure at SABS is based on the premise that eliminating it will be a cost-saving for the department.  What is not considered is the total value of the Library - to the research productivity of the local science community, and in the case of St. Andrews, to the whole community of private citizens, local fisheries and aquaculture industries, the associated universities and colleges, and the Fundy Discovery Aquarium and research at HMSC.  The Library’s value to the community far exceeds operational costs.

The decision to close the SABS Library must be reviewed and reversed, and other options considered, without delay.  Please support the Save our Ocean Science group in St Andrews on this issue.

 Yours sincerely,

 Peter G. Wells, Ph.D.
Environment Canada (retired).
Dalhousie University,
Halifax, Nova Scotia