CSIRO Marine Library Closure

In the next week, Australia’s largest, oldest and most prestigious marine science library and information service will close. The Library at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Marine and Atmospheric Research Laboratories in Hobart, Tasmania is closing with the loss of all library staff, and removal of all stock.

All book stock was initially to be transferred to a warehouse at CSIRO Black Mountain Library, Canberra, some 800 kilometres away and across Bass Strait. But apparently problems of inadequate space have arisen, so things are still being sorted out with this. This is primarily due to the fact that all (yes, I said ‘all’) CSIRO special libraries around Australia are being closed, except the main Black Mountain library in Canberra. Many library staff are losing their jobs. Across CSIRO many long-term research programs are being cancelled, including most climate change related research.

All library services for CSIRO will be centralised in Canberra, as CSIRO Library moves towards a totally digital service. Researchers and scientists will submit their requests for services electronically, to library staff designated to different divisions. Whilst we all know that science and research needs the most current peer-reviewed information, the best research often looks back at what’s been done in the past, hence the quote “standing on the shoulders of giants”. I struggle to understand just how Australia’s premier research organisation expects to continue to produce world class science with such enormous reductions in access to libraries, information and the professional expertise of library and information managers. It saddens me greatly that the Google mentality of much modern management and government appears to disregard the skills and knowledge of a profession that has developed over generations.

This change coincides with drastic reductions in staffing and resources across the Australian Public Service and Federal Government statutory authorities. Other marine libraries such as the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and Geoscience Australia have undergone major reductions in staffing and resources also. However, these libraries remain open and those librarians continue to provide truly professional service, despite these difficult times.

For those who attended, Hobart was the location of the enormously successful 30th IAMSLIC conference in 2004, organised and so generously hosted by the then Library Director Denis Abbott and his staff. Denis was a driving force in marine information management in Australia for many years, and worked tirelessly with IAMSLIC on the international stage. Since his retirement, the CSIRO librarians have maintained those world-class standards of excellence to provide wide ranging support and assistance to many in the marine library community around the world. I am sure there are many IAMSLICers out there who have been the recipients of the generosity and professionalism of the current librarian, Joel MacKeen, and her colleagues.

It is a credit to Joel and her staff that they have received such wonderful support from their clients and researchers at CSIRO over recent weeks. At this point, I’d like to pass on my personal thanks to the present and past staff of the CSIRO Marine Library for all their support, professional advice and assistance, personal camaraderie and friendship towards me when I worked at AIMS, GBRMPA and the GE-MIM. They have every right to look back with great pride.

Suzie Davies
Townsville, Australia
Alpha Indexing
9 Sidney Street
West End
Townsvlle Qld 4810
Email: alphaindexing@bigpond.com
Or previous email: jhcarleton@bigpond.com

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