Serious misinformation was spread recently about the consolidation of Department of Fisheries and Oceans libraries. Let me correct the record.
DFO owns one of the world's most comprehensive collections of information on fisheries, aquatic sciences and nautical sciences. Our government values these collections and will continue to strongly support it by continuing to add new material on an ongoing basis.
The decision to consolidate our network of libraries was based on value for taxpayers. The primary users of DFO libraries, over 86 per cent, are employees of the department. An average of only five to 12 people who work outside of DFO visited our 11 libraries each year. It is not fair to taxpayers to make them pay for libraries that so few people actually used.
Users of these libraries clearly prefer to access its information digitally, which the Department of Fisheries and Oceans can accommodate while also saving taxpayers money. In 2011, for example, over 95 per cent of the total documents provided to users were provided digitally through self-service or library-staff virtually assisted service.
Users will continue to have completely free access to every item in DFO's collections. All materials for which DFO has copyright will be preserved by the department.
Duplicate materials, including books, from the libraries being consolidated were offered to other libraries and third parties if they wanted them. They were also offered to the DFO staff on site at the library, then offered to the general public, and finally were recycled in a "green" fashion if there were no takers.
Our government is proud to stand up for taxpayers while retaining our important scientific knowledge.
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans