Frequently Asked Questions

Questions and Answers:

Q1: Why did the department consolidate its libraries?
The Department is modernizing its library services to address the increased demand for information in digital form. Today, most requests are received  and delivered electronically. Modernizing our library resources allows for easier search and access to clients no matter their location.

Q2: Which libraries remain open?
The Department has 4 locations that will remain open: 2 primary libraries at the Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney BC, and the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Dartmouth NS, and 2 specialized collections residing at the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) College library in Sydney, Nova Scotia and the CCG technical library in the National Capital Region.

Q3: Who are the users of DFO libraries?
The libraries exist to support the Department in the execution of its mandate. The primary users of DFO libraries are employees of the Department. For example, in 2011/2012, over 86% of requests to library staff for service were made by employees of the Department.

Q4: How did external users access library services prior to consolidation?
In 2011/12, 85% of external client requests were received virtually, i.e. by email, phone and mail. All virtual support services will continue to be offered. WAVES, the Departmental library catalogue, can be accessed from anywhere in the world via the Internet. In 2011/12, in-person visits by external users made up about 2% of total requests for service; there were only 5-12 in person visits at most locations.

Q5: How do external users receive materials that they have requested?
Materials not available digitally via WAVES, the Departmental library catalogue, can be requested by external users through their home library, and sent via mail to that library.

Q6: What does consolidation mean for users?
Consolidating Departmental libraries has resulted in minimal change for external users. There has been no change to the size or scope of the collection. Prior to consolidation, most users made their requests digitally and in 2011/12, in-person visits by external users only made up about 2% of total requests for service. As has always been the case, external users cannot borrow materials that are subject to copyright or intellectual property rules directly; however, loans can be arranged through their home library.

Q7: Will users have to pay fees in order to access the collection?
No. Users will not be asked to pay fees in order to access the collection.

Q8: What is the size of the DFO collection?
DFO's libraries contain one of the world's most comprehensive collections of information on fisheries, aquatic sciences and nautical sciences. The total size of our print collection as of fall 2012 was approximately 660,000 items.

Q9: How much of the DFO library collection is currently available online?
Many publications are already available in full-text online at the click of a mouse, including approximately 30,000 departmental publications. We have added the links to WAVES to point to online versions of other publications previously in the collections in print format.

Q10: Has DFO removed items from its collection?
The Department has removed duplicates from its collections, and content not required to support the department’s mandate. It is important to note that the Department has not withdrawn materials of value that support its mandate that have not yet been digitized. DFO continues to digitize its own publications and the resulting items in digitized form are preserved, catalogued in WAVES and made available via Internet.

Q11: Has the Department reduced its acquisition/collections budget?
No. The collections budget was not affected by these changes. Ninety-five percent of the annual library acquisition budget is spent on expanding access to on-line journals and other digital research tools, which allows our collection to reach a much broader base of users.

Q12: Will the Department be selling items in its collection?
The Department contacted universities and other local partners to determine if there was interest in acquiring some of the duplicate or non-DFO related materials. Some materials were offered to on-site staff of the Department for work-related use. Nothing was sold and external groups interested in acquiring materials were charged for shipping cost only. 

Q13: Will services remain available in both French and English?
Library services are available in English and French. Consolidation has had no impact on the quality or quantity of French resources held in the Department’s library collection.

Q14: Will “grey literature” still be available?
“Grey literature” is research that has been published in non-commercial form. Grey literature may include reports (pre-prints, preliminary progress and advanced reports, technical reports, statistical reports, market research reports), theses, conference proceedings, bibliographies, and official documents not published commercially. “Grey literature” will continue to be available.

Q15: Will Departmental publications and reports remain available?
Yes. DFO libraries are mandated by Treasury Board policy to collect, preserve and make accessible all DFO/CCG publications. DFO libraries collect and maintain Departmental reports and reports prepared for the Department. Approximately 30,000 Departmental publications and reports are available in full-text online and searchable via WAVES. Those which are only in print form can be digitized on demand. The resulting items in digitized format are preserved, catalogued in WAVES and made available on the internet.

Q16: Are all DFO reports and publications available online?
About 30,000 DFO-published reports and publications are currently available online. Outstanding items will be digitized if requested by users.

Q17: What materials do DFO libraries collect?
To learn about the DFO collection, please visit WAVES, the Fisheries and Oceans online catalogue.

DFO libraries collect materials that support the subject disciplines pertinent to the department’s mandate. DFO libraries collect in digital or other formats materials in the following areas:

  • Native affairs and Native history pertinent to fisheries
  • Coastal Zone and maritime management
  • Cartography, mathematical geography
  • Law of the Sea, ocean policy
  • Geography of polar regions, maritime regions, oceans
  • Laws of Canada, maritime law, environmental assessment law
  • Physical geography (coasts, reefs, hydrology)
  • Law of the United States, ocean coastal law
  • Oceanography
  • Statistics pertaining to fisheries
  • Economic geography of the oceans
  • Fisheries economics
  • Aquatic/Marine geophysics and meteorology, chemistry and geology
  • Aquatic/Marine biology, ecology, botany, zoology, physiology, and microbiology
  • Fishing Communities, coastal zones
  • Fisheries and Aquaculture, fisheries management, and fish diseases
  • Freshwater Fisheries
  • Ocean and coastal engineering
  • Fisheries Protection
  • Aquatic/Marine pollution
  • Marine navigation, engineering, and naval architecture
  • Marine hydrography, tide tables, pilot guides

Q18: How did DFO decide which materials to keep and which materials to dispose of?

The collections of the closing libraries were analyzed by the library staff according to DFO’s Library Collection Development and Management Guideline. This Guideline was approved by the Department’s library governance committee, which includes librarians and scientists as well as representatives of each of the program areas.

In conformance with established Library and Archives Canada processes, withdrawn items were offered to groups and organizations. Library and Archives Canada was also offered a number of publications and selected 79 titles, which were shipped to it in November 2013.

Throughout this process, Fisheries and Oceans Canada has respected the Library and Archives Canada Act, as well as the Surplus Crown Assets Act. The written consent of the Librarian and Archivist was granted to Fisheries and Oceans in 2011 to dispose of publications that are surplus to the Department’s requirements.