Sweet Bird (sweet_byrd) wrote in libraries,
Sweet Bird

British Columbia Legislative Library threatened with closure

Established in 1863 with the collection of British Columbia's first doctor (and the son-in-law of its first governor) at its core, the Legislative Library is a part of the national and international network of libraries which serve not only as sources of information, but as a repository of recorded knowledge in a way that the Internet can not. Though the official explanation for the closure is "seismic upgrade", more than half of the staff has already been laid off and it is widely accepted that the library space will be converted to a political reception area (read: "prestigious area for pretty pictures with all the dignitaries coming for the 2010 Winter Olympics") and office space. The priceless historical collection is being sent to a warehouse. The current plan, to cut space, slash funds, reduce staff and generally reduce, denigrate and ignore the contributions of the library, is not only a sad and familiar one, it is also one that will have dire consequences.

As one blogger noted, "it would still be profoundly anti-democratic to take legislative reference materials and, more importantly, research librarians out of the parliament buildings". Honestly, wouldn't we rather that legislators work with as much knowledge as possible? (It seems to me that putting more impediments in their way can only be a bad thing). In addition, this library is is one of the few places where the public can view historic British Columbia documents. What will happen when legislators can no longer find the information they need? What will happen when they have to make a special trip to the new, dumbed-down library? Might they, in fact, simply not bother looking for information? Is this the way we want our governments to operate? Moreover, what about the public's ability to access documents pertaining to their own history? Does that not count for anything anymore?

Retired British Columbia Legislative Librarian Joan A. Barton has sent out a plea for those outside British Columbia to protest this closure. It is vital that the Premier and Speaker realize that this action is a blow to the reputation of the Province both nationally and internationally.

I'd like to add my plea to Ms. Barton's -- please, please don't just stand by while this beautiful, vital historic library fall under the steamroller of short-sighted bureaucratic idiocy. Speak up and let them know that their actions are not acceptable!

Protests may be addressed to:

the Premier Hon. Gordon Campbell
the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Hon. Bill Barison

Those within British Columbia can also contact their own Members of the Legislative Assembly
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