This is absolutely tragic. In 2012, when Canada’s Harper government announced that it would close down national archive sites around the country, they promised that anything that was discarded or sold would be digitized first. However, reporting coming out of Canada now is finding that, along with the closure of some of the world’s finest fishery, ocean and environmental libraries, a significant amount of irreplaceable collections and data are simply being thrown out or burned. As David Rosenthal noted in his blog post “Threat Model for Archives”, this should be a giant warning to anyone who thinks that “single, government-funded archives are a solution to anything.”
Hutchings said none of the closures has anything to do with saving money, due to the small cost of maintaining the collections. He, like many scientists, concludes that Harper’s political convictions are driving the unprecedented consolidation.
“It must be about ideology. Nothing else fits,” said Hutchings. “What that ideology is, is not clear. Does it reflect that part of the Harper government that doesn’t think government should be involved in the very things that affect our lives? Or is it that the role of government is not to collect books or fund science? Or is it the idea that a good government is stripped down government? ”
Hutchings saw the library closures fitting a larger pattern of “fear and insecurity” within the Harper government, “about how to deal with science and knowledge.”
That pattern includes the gutting of the Fisheries Act, the muzzling of scientists, the abandonment of climate change research and the dismantling of countless research programs, including the world famous Experimental Lakes Area. All these examples indicate that the Harper government strongly regards environmental science as a threat to unfettered resource exploitation.
“There is a group of people who don’t know how to deal with science and evidence. They see it as a problem and the best way to deal with it is to cut it off at the knees and make it ineffective,” explained Hutchings.
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