SLA Appeals Closure of Government Library in Canada
Joins with library group in Quebec to ask for explanation of decision
McLean, Virginia, U.S.A., 15 February 2021—The Special Libraries Association has joined with the Corporation of Professional Librarians of Quebec (CBPQ) in questioning the recent decision by Quebec’s Ministry of Culture and Communication (MCC) to close its library and terminate the library staff.
SLA and the CBPQ issued a joint statement that reads as follows:
The CBPQ and SLA Deplore the End of Activities at the Library of the Ministry of Culture and Communications
Montreal, February 12, 2021—The Corporation of Professional Librarians of Quebec (CBPQ) and the Special Libraries Association (SLA) were recently informed of the decision of the Ministry of Culture and Communications (MCC) to end the activities of the ministerial library located in the Guy-Frégault building. Unless we are mistaken, no statement from the MCC has been issued to report on this situation and thus allow the public to understand its justification.
We would like to express our concern about the likely impact this decision will have on current and future library users. In the absence of the information professionals hitherto employed by the ministry, it deprives itself of the expertise necessary to provide essential services such as maintaining and updating its collections, facilitating access to documents, and supporting library users, including staff, researchers, instructors and students.
Considering that Quebec adopted a new cultural policy in 2018, we believe that the MCC library and its specialists could be called upon to achieve some of the targeted objectives. Note, for example, measure 14, which plans to increase government support for cultural dissemination in Quebec. The professionals of the ministerial library could be assets in the achievement of this mandate, for example by carrying out a strategic watch on new trends in culture, on means of dissemination, etc. Librarians could also support the ministry in the development of tools intended to help cultural organizations disseminate and promote their content, and reach the population, in particular via new technologies.
The CBPQ and SLA remind that no tool, digital or otherwise, can replace librarians: their skills and dedication to the transmission of knowledge are essential for the proper functioning of institutions and of society in general. In the hope that the activities of the ministerial library can resume, the CBPQ and SLA invite the MCC to reassess this decision and to rehire librarians to ensure the maintenance of professional services. We remain available for a meeting to discuss this further.
More than 200 SLA members live and work in Canada, including SLA’s 2021 president-elect, Catherine Lavallée-Welch, a librarian at Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke, Quebec, and a fellow SLA board member, Jim Miller, a librarian in Ottawa, Ontario. SLA has a thriving community in Canada known as SLA Canada.
The Special Libraries Association (SLA) is a nonprofit international organization for innovative information professionals and their strategic partners. SLA serves information professionals in more than 50 countries and in a range of working environments, including business, academia, and government agencies. SLA promotes and strengthens its members through learning, advocacy, and networking initiatives. For more information, visit sla.org.