Are Library Closings Damaging Canada’s Collective Memory?

Are Library Closings Damaging Canada’s Collective Memory?
Canada’s authors deeply concerned about the loss of valuable research collections

The Writers’ Union of Canada is watching with increasing alarm media reports about the closing of federally established research libraries. Recent reports in the Victoria Times Colonist, The Tyee online newspaper, and other outlets suggest collection consolidation and site closings have likely resulted in the loss of priceless research materials related to water, fish, and wildlife studies in Canada.

“This raid on our science libraries is a national tragedy. The legacy of a century’s research into Canada’s most vital resource — water — has been dismantled and worse, in some cases, discarded,” said Harry Thurston, incoming Chair of TWUC. “Coupled with the widely reported muzzling of scientists, I fear that it threatens to plunge us into a new dark age for scientific research and science and nature writing in this country,”

Thurston is the winner of multiple science writing awards, including the 2011 Lane Anderson Award for best science book in Canada, The Atlantic Coast, A Natural History. Thurston says that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans libraries were vital to the writing of his book.

“Authors view our national library system as crucial,” added TWUC’s current Chair, Dorris Heffron, “not just as a repository of our research history, but as a key resource for our continued work.”

In the last year, the Writers’ Union has spoken out against cuts to library services in Toronto, at Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa, and now the science library system nationwide. “The rush to increased digitization must not happen at the expense of all the valuable work done to this point,” insisted Heffron.

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The Writers’ Union of Canada is our country’s national organization representing more than 2,000 professional authors of books. The Union is dedicated to fostering writing in Canada, and promoting the rights, freedoms, and economic well-being of all writers.


For additional information:

John Degen, Executive Director
The Writers' Union of Canada
416.703.8982 Ext. 221

Dorris Heffron           
Chair, The Writers’ Union of Canada