From the Vancouver Sun.
Legislative library will be closed to make space for offices
Friday, March 16, 2007
VICTORIA — It has existed for 144 years as one of B.C.’s great democratic institutions: The library housed inside the capital’s legislative buildings devoted to tirelessly researching and cataloguing the political events, laws and history of British Columbia.
But B.C.’s Speaker of the House is about to close the legislative library down for up to two years, and perhaps move it for good from its historic site, claiming it is in a wing of the legislature that needs to be seismically upgraded to make it safe in an earthquake.
About half the 30 librarians will be sent to other jobs in government. As for the millions of precious, and in some cases priceless, materials in its dusty stacks, a treasure trove of Canadian history filled with the esoteric businesses of governments dating back before Confederation, will be sent to a warehouse. It’s also not clear the institution will ever come back to the legislature since the politicians, who are are short on space, have been eying the cavernous space for a warren of offices.
“There will still be a library on the legislature’s precinct (the property around the legislature),” Speaker Bill Barisoff, who holds the library’s fate in his hands. “The only thing different will be the location of the books.”
That wasn’t good enough for those who see the library — first moved into the legilsature aboout 90 years ago — as an important outlet for nonpartisan research in the heat of political debate.
Documents that can sometimes be found nowhere else — or take weeks to obtain — can be signed out by politicians, academics and journalists in a few minutes, often in time for deadlines and ongoing debates.