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NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center to close two physical libraries

In an apparently leaked memo, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, says that as of Jan 1, 2012 they will no longer maintain a physical library facility at the two GFSC locations.

  • Goddard Libraries Transition to Electronic Services, From: GSFC-Communications, To: GSFC-DL-ALL, Sent: Monday, October 31, 2011 11:20 AM, signed by Marilyn C. Tolliver, Chief Information and Logistics Management Division, and Robin M. Dixon, Head Knowledge Resources and Library Branch The Goddard Library; reprinted at SpaceRef.com (Oct. 31, 2011).

    Beginning January 1, 2012, the NASA Goddard libraries at Greenbelt and Wallops will transition to an all-electronic activity. In response to changes in the research environment and to Center-driven resource priorities, we will no longer maintain a physical presence but will focus on supporting the research needs of the Goddard community electronically. Our digital presence will remain as a portal to our vast collection of electronic material and our research specialists will continue to be available to support evolving requirements of Goddard’s researchers.

Our colleague Gary Price at INFOdocket has some pointed questions about what will happen to the printed collection and the librarians who staffed the physical facilities:

Gary also has lots of good links including links to a bunch of NASA libraries and list of 50+ specialty libraries that are a part of Goddard.

We’ve all heard of libraries without books, but it is less often we hear of libraries without facilities at all. Certainly in the digital age it should be possible to have excellent and even enhanced services without requiring information-users to visit a physical space. A link in the memo to a FAQ goes to a non-public web page and the brief memo raises more questions than it answers:

  • Will the library be building and preserving a collection or just linking to and licensing access to information resources held by others?
  • Will the “new services” the memo mentions be in addition to or instead of older services?
  • Is this just a “realignment of resources” within the libraries or is it a reduction in funding to libraries?

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