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Canada Science

Canadian Government Trucking Generations of Scientific Data To the Dump 209

sandbagger writes "Canada's science documents are literally being taken to the dump. The northern nation's scientific community has been up in arms over the holidays as local scientific libraries and records offices were closed and their shelves — some of which contained century old data — emptied into dumpsters. Stephen Harper's Tory government is claiming that the documents have been digitized. The scientists say, 'The people who use this research don’t have any say in what is being saved or tossed aside.'"
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Canadian Government Trucking Generations of Scientific Data To the Dump

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  • A war. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hendrikboom ( 1001110 ) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @11:32PM (#45961239)

    There's a war on science in this country. It's a disaster. And it'll continue at least until the next election, which may be years away. I'm ashamed of what's happening to my country.

    -- hendrik, a Canadian.

  • by dryeo ( 100693 ) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @11:44PM (#45961319)

    As if the government would give any warning, there's a reason it was done over the holidays. The PMO (Prime Ministers Office) has an iron grip on the government and nothing is said or done without their say so. This from a government that ran on being open and transparent and more democratic and yet make Obama look very open and non-authoritarian.

  • by jamesmhiebert . ( 2949915 ) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @11:49PM (#45961357)

    In a statement emailed to the Star by her spokesperson...

    OK, who do you trust? The spokesperson for a minister with no scientific background and who has no idea what actually happens on the ground, or the scientists who have spent their entire careers working for below-market pay just because they love the pursuit of knowledge?

    And come on, a savings of $443k a year for a federal library with over a hundred years of data? That paltry savings is just a drop in the bucket for the federal budget. That's the cost of around five people per year, when it probably cost hundreds of millions of dollars to do the research and collect the data of the course of the decades.

  • by ancarett ( 221103 ) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @11:51PM (#45961373)
    Don't believe Shea's claims about the usage numbers. Those stats reflect people who requested help in using the libraries - relatively rare with specialized research collections where a host of users just get to work in what used to be showpiece collections. Many of these users came from the DFO institutions but also from outside, including academics, people in industry and other government employees. The provision of materials over the internet? Largely had to be digitized from library collections. Now we'll have neither the collections nor the librarians to do so.

    The hasty closures and haphazard deaccessioning of these collections that represent substantial investments of taxpayer money over decades? Entirely the opposite of what conservatives claim to value - careful custody of a nation's heritage and citizen investment. (Canada's federal government is in the control of the Progressive Conservative party, hard at work muzzling the scientists [] supported by our tax dollars.)

    From The Tyee []'s December 23 story on the topic, "What Driving Chaotic Dismantling of Canada's Science Libraries" []: Moreover records on library usage were overtly biased and based on who asked for help, said Burton Ayles, a retired director general for DFO who lives in Winnipeg and has used the Freshwater Institute library frequently.

    "Most people that come in to the library don't have to request help. They just use the material. Just look at any regular library."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @01:04AM (#45961867)

    You fucking idiot, NOTHING has been digitized. They are CLAIMING they are digitized, they have not actually BEEN digitized.

    It's a cover story to allow the destruction of records that will allow drilling/mining/fracking companies to have completely uncontested applications for operating in the Canadian wilderness, because there will be no environmental records in which to make a negative assessment about the impact of such operations. That's the whole point. Erase the past to clear the way for the future.

    Please use what's left of your pot-addled brain and actually THINK, for once in your life. If you read the facts on this story you'd know NOTHING IS BEING PRESERVED.

  • Re:A war. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Wulfrunner ( 1213776 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @04:14AM (#45962717)

    Saving $500K/year AND getting people better access to information is a good thing.

    Except that number is manufactured. Did you know that many governmental institutions rent space from themselves? For example, the library is in a government owned building, but the DFO has to pay premium rent for each square foot of space to one of these other [] Canadian government departments. Then there are the heating and power costs. Although the space has to be heated anyways regardless of its use, they factor that into the costs of operating that library. Do you think they employ an army of librarians? Or maids to dust the books? Or exterminators to hunt bookworms? No, the library is a storage space and if we have anything in Canada it's tons of space. The $500k figure might just be for rent, power, and heating most of which they will continue to pay to themselves even after the library is gone. You really have to have worked as a bureaucrat in Canada to understand this madness.

    Secondly, if you have ever tried to get access to information, scientific or otherwise, from any Canadian federal, provincial, or territorial government website, you know that it is a crapshoot. Sometimes you hit a good site (or at least one that isn't terrible), and then for some reason they feel the need to change it next month and make it terrible so that it fits the nonsensical shitty guidelines constantly under development by CIOs and lawyers (of all people) who are completely disconnected from the reality of how their clients use their sites. Better access to information? They should have shipped it all to Google. I wouldn't be surprised if that's where those dumpsters went after all, because our bureaucrats are wicked sneaky sometimes.

  • by fygment ( 444210 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @11:10AM (#45965167)

    Here's the story:

    a) "the people" insist the government to scale back on spending, so they do.
    b) departments cannot get $$ to build additional storage and so have to scale back holdings
    c) the task is passed to the librarians who themselves have been subject to staff cuts. Why? Because a scientific department will cut 'superfluous staff', like librarians, before they cut 'necessary' staff, like scientists.
    d) the librarians left have to scan what they must (can't scan it all because of $$/time limits) and dispose of what is deemed valueless
    e) the librarians SOLICIT GUIDANCE FROM THE SCIENTISTS as to what should stay and what should go
    f) the MAJORITY of scientists PAY NO ATTENTION UNTIL AFTER THE FACT because they are 'too busy for such things as managing archival documents'. The attitude is: they are scientists, not librarians.
    g) lacking guidance and under pressure to make room for new arrivals (govt scientists order books and papers like they were free), the librarians make best guesses; and
    h) bear the brunt of the abuse when some scientist decides to make an issue of the cull.

    Nothing prevented the scientists from particpating in the entire process. Nothing prevented the scientists from scanning the documents themselves and holding them locally. NOTHING except their own APATHY.

    The government scientists in Canada are well paid making, within a few years, over $100K/year [] (see DS 3-4/SE-RES-2 levels which are attained in 5 yrs or on hire and look for ) and who are not held to the publishing demands of even a small university. As public servants, they enjoy the equivalent of tenure upon hiring (very difficult to fire a public servant even during govt cuts). These facts frequently lead to apathy and a sense of privilege. There are some exceptional scientists, and then there are some who play at politics and do little else. That's what this issue is about; it's not about facts, it's about partisanship.

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson