Health Canada library changes leave scientists scrambling

Health Canada scientists are so concerned about losing access to their research library that they’re finding work-arounds, with one squirrelling away journals and books in his basement for colleagues to consult, says a report obtained by CBC News.

The draft report from a consultant hired by the department warned it not to close its library, but the report was rejected as flawed and the advice went unheeded.

Before the main library closed, the inter-library loan functions were outsourced to a private company called Infotrieve, the consultant wrote in a report ordered by the department. The library’s physical collection was moved to the National Science Library on the Ottawa campus of the National Research Council last year.

“Staff requests have dropped 90 per cent over in-house service levels prior to the outsource. This statistic has been heralded as a cost savings by senior HC [Health Canada] management,” the report said.

“However, HC scientists have repeatedly said during the interview process that the decrease is because the information has become inaccessible — either it cannot arrive in due time, or it is unaffordable due to the fee structure in place.”

A recently retired Health Canada pathologist agreed with this assessment.

“I look at it as an insidious plan to discourage people from using libraries,” said Dr. Rudi Mueller, who left the department in 2012.

“If you want to justify closing a library, you make access difficult and then you say it is hardly used.”

FOLLOW THE CBC POST HERE.

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