Federal libraries, archives shutting down

A series of federal department archives are set to close and many jobs will be lost throughout Library and Archives Canada as part of the latest federal budget cuts.

Researchers, academics, genealogists losing important research tools for their work

The Canadian Association of University Teachers has been asking the federal government to fund Library and Archives Canada. (Victor R. Caivano/Associated Press)

The federal government is eliminating a series of libraries and archives throughout different departments as part of the latest budget cuts.

Library and Archives Canada alone has received or will still receive more than 400 affected notices and the department announced 20 per cent of its workforce would be let go.

The cuts to the government's archival collections stretch beyond just one department, though. Libraries at the transport, immigration and public works departments will be eliminated.

That is a scary prospect, according to researchers, genealogists and academics that often rely on such libraries and history to develop their work.

"Professionals and scientists who work in those departments need access to those specialized libraries to develop policy," said James Turk, president of the Canadian Association of University Professors.

"As well, other Canadians rely on those specialized libraries and there aren't other libraries that have those people and can make up for that."

Closures this week

Turk has run a campaign that attempted to salvage Library and Archives Canada but the cuts are set to impact the department over three years.

The Ottawa office at the Canadian Council of Archives, which organizes much of Canada's governmental documents, is set to shut its doors Friday.

"This is going to have an impact on archives users, genealogists, scholars, writers across Canada," said Lara Wilson, chairwoman of the council of archives. 

Transport Canada's library is now closed, too, with seven workers informed Monday their jobs are obsolete. They will now spend months packing up and told CBC News much of the collection will soon be in the trash.

In an email to CBC News, the department said Tranport Canada is streamlining its collection to focus on  "core functions".

"Users of the library, such as other federal organizations, industry stakeholders, academia, international organizations, and the media, will be encouraged to contact Transport Canada directly to obtain information about the department’s programs," the email read.

Some archives are being tossed because there is no central library and so many departments are closing their libraries.

Many of the archives that are losing funding will not result in job losses, though, Wilson added. Volunteers run them.