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Books Canada Government Science

Canadian Health Scientists Resort To Sneaker Net After Funding Slashed 168

sandbagger writes "Health Canada scientists are so concerned about losing access to their research library that they're finding workarounds, with one squirreling away journals and books in his basement for colleagues to consult, says a report obtained by CBC News. The report said the number of in-house librarians went from 40 in 2007 to just six in April 2013. '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.' This is hardly new for Stephen Harper's Conservative government. Over the Christmas holidays, several scientific libraries were closed and their contents taken to the dump."
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Canadian Health Scientists Resort To Sneaker Net After Funding Slashed

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  • by surfdaddy ( 930829 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @08:16PM (#46019651)
    ...are we batshit crazy. What the FUCK ever happened to science? We are descending back into the dark ages...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 20, 2014 @08:21PM (#46019697)

      Science involves education. Educated masses are not useful to political parties.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rmdingler ( 1955220 )
        Conversely, religion involves indoctrination.

        Consolidated masses are very useful to political parties.

        • But both require funding. Patents for protection. New pharma for profits before the patents can expire. Patent portfolio trading and litigation. Oppress the innovators, for they don't make us any revenue.

          Lead the lemmings to the cliffs. Make them buy or die. Threaten new products with massive litigation costs so that investors will shy away. Bribe the legislatures to protect the monopolies. Buy out any interesting startups so that no one can take their place and use their intellectual property as threats to

    • by lgw ( 121541 )

      Wait, isn't the Canadian Library Association controversy the story we just read? Or was that some different CLA?

      (BTW, there was slow but steady technological and economic progress during the "dark ages", it led pretty smoothly into the Enlightenment)

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Insidious plans and Stephen Harper go hand-in-hand.

      • by dryeo ( 100693 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @10:46PM (#46020713)

        You're thinking of the closures of the fisheries libraries over the holidays. This is the closure of the health libraries. The other year it was the closure of a bunch of research stations. It's the typical right wing agenda, cut taxes slightly so business doesn't have to give cost of living wages, increase spending so the government is running in the red (they came into power with a pretty good surplus) then cut those parts of government that don't agree with their ideology and give lots of money to their favourite industry, oil. Bonus with all the government re-purposed to supporting the tar business they can claim that they're spending more on science then ever.

    • by Slur ( 61510 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @08:32PM (#46019795) Homepage Journal

      It's become something of a crusade of mine lately to promote reason, spurred on by stories like this, the rise of scientific illiteracy, and the destruction of culture through a dumbed-down commercial media. I'm not down with any specific ideology, in fact I promote rising above ideology to a more anthropological and phenomenological view of humanity and nature, and a faithful application of empiricism to all things we call "knowledge." Too many people invoke the chemical feeling of "belief" just to get high on it, and have no interest in the hard won truth which comes by skeptical inquiry. Too many of us are willing to swallow conspiracy theories that fit our overblown narratives of authoritarian control, as well, and in that manner also become stupid with time-wasting and untenable beliefs.

      I urge people to get into understanding things as they actually are, practicing their arts and exploring the sciences with enthusiasm, focusing on results rather than just pure jollies. Religion, ideology, and self-deception are insidious traps that can hold people for a lifetime, and are very hard to fight against because people are so inured. But fight we must.

      • Your quest is commendable, but realities suggest a general readiness to succumb to the belief system.

        It's just easier for many to believe in something than it is to understand everything.

        There is comfort in the validation of long held beliefs, no matter the measure of it's bias on the scientific method.

      • by stranger_to_himself ( 1132241 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @09:56PM (#46020395) Journal

        That's fine so long as you're telling people how things are, but very limited if you want to think about how they should be. The problem with abdicating from advocacy is that there are plenty of people without your knowledge, understanding or benevolence who are prepared to fill in the gaps for you. This is why 'promoting societal good' is rightly now a key aspect of scientific endeavour.

      • Thank you.

      • Having an ideology is an insidious trap?! Are you a nihilist or something? Oh wait...isn't nihilism an ideology too...hmmm...

      • This is very hard-line. Despite what the reddit atheist crowd thinks, there are a lot of religious people who understand that there is no scientific basis for their beliefs. These people, like us seculars, are able to distinguish faith from reason, but they choose to partake of both.

        I also have a problem with scientific reasoning when it is overapplied. Sometime, stuff is hard to measure -- for example, social phenomena and things like how prejudices play out in different situations. Saying "but there's n

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @08:33PM (#46019801) Journal

      ...are we batshit crazy. What the FUCK ever happened to science? We are descending back into the dark ages...

      In the specific context of Canada, certain uppity scientists suggested that there might be unpleasant environmental side-effects to the plan to use tar sands to turn Canada into a dysfunctional petrostate.

      In a not-at-all-dysfunctional-petrostate move, the Harper regime decided to show those uppity scientists where they could shove their 'evidence'. (Probably not a library, anymore)

      • by LifesABeach ( 234436 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @08:43PM (#46019867) Homepage
        One can say now that a trip to the dump could be "a truly educational experience."

        Who would benefit from the destruction of knowledge in Canada?
        • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @08:50PM (#46019903) Homepage

          Who would benefit from the destruction of knowledge in Canada?

          A government who refuses to make evidence-based decisions, and instead likes to believe their ideology defines reality.

          • by Concerned Onlooker ( 473481 ) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @12:11AM (#46021293) Homepage Journal

            That also covers the US under the Bush administration.


            A quote from Ron Suskind, 2004 (the aide he is referring to was later identified as Karl Rove):

            The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality--judiciously, as you will--we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors...and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

            • by dbIII ( 701233 )
              That's supposed to be the point where the sociopath gets led off by nice me into the rubber room. Unfortunately the sociopath was so well connected that he was above the law. King John would have killed to have that immunity.
        • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @08:52PM (#46019933) Journal
          The two major players would be tar sands development and (relatively distant second) fisheries lobbies who would rather fish their quarry into extinction and then go bankrupt, rather than suffer some sort of limits now in the service of having fish in the future.

          The fisheries guys are comparatively small-time (and have been around for decades, and also have a love/hate relationship with scientific fish experts, nobody likes being subject to quotas; but fishermen aren't dumb enough to think that the future of fishing is in having no fish, so they agree in principle, if not in yearly numbers and exact population estimates, with the science guys), so my money would be on the tar sands sector.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Things like this have been going on for some time in Canada. For example, world class science was being done at the Experimental Lakes Area, see section on it's defunding

        I'm from Buffalo NY (USA) and we recently spent a weekend with some scientist friends in Toronto -- they took us to a lecture about this major problem. One of the conclusions was that scientists (in Canada) aren't used to political action, so this government move has (to some extent) b

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      To paraphrase Sid's Alpha Centauri:
      Beware those who would deny you knowledge,
      For in their hearts they dream themselves your master

    • by k31 ( 98145 )

      Nobody will notice.

      The shiny rectangles [] will keep them filled with 'dark light of unenlightenment'.

    • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      Science is just fine in Canada, in reality you're reading a story from the CBC. The equivalent of Pravda, with more spitshine and gloss. They have an axe to grind against any government that isn't the liberal party, and sometimes the NDP.

    • The newly elected (Sep 2013) Australian Government no longer has a Science Minister.

      • by cusco ( 717999 )

        Seriously? Oh, crap. So the Western-culture countries are just giving up and handing the future to Asia. I suppose it's the logical conclusion of the MBA disease, where if something doesn't make a profit this accounting cycle then it's not worth doing.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They'll welcome Slashdotters with serious software skills who keep saying they can no longer live under the US government.

  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @08:19PM (#46019679)

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

    So we have "starve the beast" in Canada now.

    Spiffy. Not.


    • by Anonymous Coward

      When you spend years running on the failure of government, is it any wonder when you get into power and make that happen even faster?

    • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere ( 2201864 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @08:43PM (#46019865)
      Why do electorates keep falling for this "Government doesn't work! Vote for me, and I'll PROVE it!" crap?
      • by dryeo ( 100693 )

        Here in Canada we're actually suffering from the tyranny of the minority. The Conservatives got 38% of the voters who bothered to vote.

        • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

          Ah you mean the Liberals were elected to power when I wasn't looking? If you want an example of tyranny of the minority you only need to look there and the amount of special-interest crap that went on during the Chretien days. Especially the massive-super-screwover of Western Canada and the Eastern provinces. The only thing that mattered to them was: Ontario(electorate), and Quebec(electorate). The current government is at least working with the primers of each province, and isn't telling them to go awa

    • by GeekBoy ( 10877 )

      It's not so called conservatism it's actually conservatism. The public service in Canada is pretty large and it's not sustainable. Canada is basically going through it's own downsizing of government they started about 1-2 years ago when they laid-off a lot of public sector employees and reduced spending all around. Every public servant in Ottawa was in a tizzy for months, you'd have thought the world was coming to an end to hear them speak of the calamities that were going to result in this. Personally, as

  • by presidenteloco ( 659168 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @08:26PM (#46019739)

    In fairness, the libraries aren't being closed. They're being re-purposed as public relations offices responsible for such things as communicating the need to move forward with new forms of multimodal multimedia information dissemination, on a go forward basis.

    Also, the books are not being dumped, they're being converted into bio-fuel (burned in very efficient co-generation waste incinerators).

  • by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @08:29PM (#46019771)

    Once again the data is (allegedly) retained, but moved and is now less convenient to access.

    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.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @08:35PM (#46019813) Journal
      Unfortunately, the new "Beware of the leopard" signs are still in the contract-tender phase, and are expected to be delayed. In the meantime, feel free to check the locked filing cabinet.
    • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

      With the inter-library loan system, there doesn't really need to be a physical copy of every book in every library, because it's expensive to house so many books, especially in areas with high land prices. But instead of shutting down libraries, they should be downsizing them so they're still local, and moving to digital copies of books. A neighborhood library could be nothing more than a shelf full of holds, a drop box for returns, and a few terminals to request holds and check out physical and digital boo

      • and if you need reference help of course you are screwed because there is no librarian.

        • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

          and if you need reference help of course you are screwed because there is no librarian.

          There could still be librarians. Add a telephone to each terminal that dials directly to a call center in India.

  • If the people of Canada think this is horrid and despicable, they only have to look into the mirror to see who is responsible for electing a Tory government. Next thing you know, your precious universal health care will be under siege. Wake up neighbors!!!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 20, 2014 @08:47PM (#46019893)

      You get the best government you deserve

      Stop it. Just stop with this. Does an average person have any control over a government? No. They can write letters or vote for whatever paid-off politician they wish.

      That does not mean they are getting what they deserve. They are merely getting what people with power and influence want. Nothing more.

    • by Vanderhoth ( 1582661 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @09:00PM (#46019977)
      We have 3 parties the Tories won a majority from just over 37% of the vote. Most of which came from Alberta (North Texas). There's not much the other 63% of us can do, it's how the system works. That being said 2015 is an election year, hopefully the damage Harper's done to the public service by then will be remembered.
      • Most of which came from Alberta (North Texas).

        2011 election, Tory seats won:
        Ontario: 73
        All four western provinces: 72
        The land of Oil and Evil and Oil (aka Alberta): 27

        Like Texas, everything is bigger in Alberta. Including, apparently, our votes.

      • ~40% vote won in election with ~60% voter turnout = ~24% electorate represented. This Harper government represents a "majority" in no genuine sense.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 20, 2014 @10:08PM (#46020483)

      You might want to read up on the election fraud that occurred here. Google: "2011 Canadian federal election voter suppression scandal", aka the Robocall Scandal.

      The Cons worked hard at getting that swept under the rug. For any act like this that politicians get caught in, you can bet there's probably a dozen more they pulled off without the public knowing.

  • By like some famous author dude where you couldn't get books so people like memorized them or something?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      By like some famous author dude where you couldn't get books so people like memorized them or something?

      Books are the source of evil. They must be burned lest some crazy ideas creep into the minds of the populace.
      We wouldn't want that. Keep them ignorant. Keep them in front of a 100 inch lcd/plasma wall display. But for pete's sake don't give them books. Your civic duty is to denounce those hippies that still cling to those old fashioned dead trees. Burn them, burn them all to hell. Remember citizen, the only good book is a burned book.

  • What a horrible waste. I hope they at least had the libraries open to the public as a well-publicized "everything's free bookstore" for a few weeks before hauling the leftovers to the dump.

    I remember my library growing up had a "free shelf" in the basement of old books that were to be discarded. They were often a bit tattered and worn, but what a treasure trove for a young book lover on a shoestring budget.

    • that sounds like a step down the slope of Communism.
      The kind of people who throw away whole libraries wouldn't dream of letting people have the books for free.
      They aren't trying to privatize the library, they are trying to bury it.
      It's about making information that you don't want go away.

    • It's extremism of the same sort the Islamic Fundamentalists practice.

      Next up is no education for girls and religious instead of secular law.

    • Digitize everything, store it in Library Genesis (including the 20M-and-counting papers section)...
    • I remember the same thing in a a county library in Colorado, except the library would sell their unwanted books at ridiculously low prices. Older reference books worth hundreds would go for a dollar or two. A treasure trove indeed. Hopefully the the books sent to the dump were at least offered to the public first!

      I should also add that a local university library near where I live now recently sent a bunch of their old books to the dump (except the ones I fished out of the dumpster) Shame on you, University

    • What a horrible waste. I hope they at least had the libraries open to the public as a well-publicized "everything's free bookstore" for a few weeks before hauling the leftovers to the dump.

      I must admit I got the image of book burning, without the burning. The end result is pretty much the same, in the sense it is destruction of knowledge and culture. Then again I see a lot of common with Harper and a certain historic figure with a narrow moustache (not Charlie Chaplin).

      • We need a new culture law - I propose we call it "Chaplin's Law": Any sufficiently large asshole can ruin a cool mustache for everyone.

  • I lived in Ottawa for over 15 years and worked with government employees every day. Anything that comes along and 'the sky is falling' this is just more of the same nonsense.

  • If we each get one and scan it... I'd be game, so would my significant other.
  • by thirdpoliceman ( 1350013 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @09:26PM (#46020161)
    I worked for Natural Resources Canada's library system in 2011. My friend worked at Transportation Canada.

    They closed Transportation Canada's library system. It no longer exists. Who knows what happened to the information there, if it even exists any more. My friend told me they housed some of the world's foremost research on transportation science, and were called upon by international colleagues to provide them with information. []

    They did a similar thing to the library at the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans []

    Environment Canada []

    This government has a war on science and knowledge and actively prohibits scientists from speaking to the media without government approval. []

    The Conservative government does not care about facts. They have policies they want to implement, and they will do WHATEVER it takes to ensure those policies are enacted. Even if it means destroying our scientific heritage.
  • Alternate Headline (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CauseBy ( 3029989 )

    Alternate Headline: "Public Agency Finds Less Expensive Way to Do The Same Job; Saves Taxpayer Dollars".

    This is what people voted for. It's a democracy. If people want the more expensive solution which does the same thing, then they'll vote for that instead.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Except that the cost savings here ... are negate by the millions spent on advertising for programs that don't even exist yet [].

      It isn't "less expensive way to do the same job" anyway, it's less expensive for inferior services.

    • by dryeo ( 100693 )

      This government got 37% of the votes (much less when you consider the people who didn't vote) so no, it is not what the people voted for. This government has also squandered the surplus and ran a deficit the whole time they've been in power. Billions spent on advertising how we have the best science and billions given to the bitumen industry. Its got to the point where the oil companies don't really want any more tax credits as they know it looks a lot better if they pay a little tax.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 20, 2014 @09:48PM (#46020337)

    I was a student at curtin for a while. Whilst I was there they binned some old chemistry reference books than no one had used in a while.
    They were a near complete set of chemistry journals from the 1750ish through 1910 ish. These were one of maybe 3 sets in the world, we sent to the tip. Gone forever.
    This is why I am keen in the digitization of works copyrighted or otherwise.

  • by matbury ( 3458347 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @11:03PM (#46020829) Homepage
    Looks like "... was supposed to be a warning, not an instruction manual..." is going to be a new meme. First George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four, now Ray Bradbury's Farenheit 451.

    Down the memory hole!
  • This is why all of this needs to be digitized and made freely available online - so it cannot be controlled or contained. Information is power. How big would the torrent for all of it? The scientists should band together, home build book scanners, and seed away. All the tools for information freedom are now at hand, use them!

  • by DarthVain ( 724186 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @12:45PM (#46036401)

    Not to defend the Conservatives I dislike, however a few points worth noting. I have had some experience with this.

    A) Many of these specialized libraries are not used regularly. There may be a need for the information, and sometimes that need might be more than usual, however for the most part I would bet that most of the staff are not all that busy. Hence the reduction of staff. Though as argued this may have led to a decline in service when they are actually needed, making them even less used, etc...
    B) Digitizing is expensive. Storing the information is expensive. Organizing the information is expensive. Hosting the information is expensive. Now multiply all those things by a factor of 5 because you have to use government services or contractors to built it, and infrastructure to host it. There are a whole lot of reasons for this which I won't get into, but the fact is it is reality.
    C) You may or may not agree with it, but if you lower taxes, you need to cut services, and if you cut services you have to decide which ones. Too many people out there somehow think that they don't have to pay taxes and somehow get all the services they want for free. Some have pointed out that the taxes cut are corporate taxes, and I am sure the Conservatives would argue that this makes Canada more competitive and creates jobs. Personally I think that is BS, but the fact is, less taxes means less services.

    Anyway many are painting this as some sort of dastardly master plan by the Conservatives to destroy science and push their agenda. I think you are giving them way to much credit. That may be the round about way result, that has some small affect on the some specific long term research, but likely its immediate impact and gains (which is what most political parties are looking for, I highly doubt the Conservatives are playing the long game here) are negligible. This is more a simple consequence of the Conservatives following their ideological plan they got elected for. They cut corporate taxes using the assumption that it would make Canada more competitive and thus more attractive to corporate job creation, this costs money so to make up for it, rather than raise income taxes (which they also said they wouldn't do) the cut services to things which they don't see as A) important, and likely B) will have little impact on the short term while they are in office so as to have little effect on the next election cycle.

    So none of this is really all that surprising, nor unexpected. If you want to blame anything it is our electoral process that gives a majority government to party that doesn't even have a majority of the popular vote simply because the left is split, and that because these parties have a election cycle of 4 years, unless you have a strong leader with some legacy fetish, odds are no party will think much longer than those terms.

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