Reduced access to scientific information, reduced personnel support for a major Canadian organization
The federal government's main science library was hit by severe cuts, losing 86 librarian and administrative positions in early 2010. The Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (CISTI), Canada’s largest science and technology library service and publisher of scientific information, saw its staff cut by an estimated 70%, according to the union representing workers there. Since that downsizing, the library has been further restructured and is now called the National Science Library.
The cuts, in response to a program review ordered by the federal government to reduce costs in the public service, saw the privatization of NRC Research Press (see a separate summary of that story) and CISTI's document delivery service. NRC spokesperson Leslie Meearburg stated the cuts should not raise public concern as the job losses had no impact on the NRC's research capacity.
However, an essential role of the administrators and librarians who lost their jobs was making science research available to the public. According to an expert panel report on libraries and archives by the Royal Society of Canada (p. 141-2), these cuts are a concern as Canadians lose easy access to scientific information that impacts their daily lives. “Many client groups, including federal employees, the public… and communities of interest are no longer served by departmental libraries, either due to closures, reductions in staff, or because libraries have had to prioritize their departmental client base and services can no longer be offered to those outside the department.”
As well, many other federal departments have seen their libraries closed, reduced, or merged with the National Science Library in recent years, reducing federal scientists' access to critical information.