Library and Archives Canada axes Canadian Book Exchange Centre

Library and Archives Canada has announced the <a href="">elimination of the Canadian Book Exchange Centre</a>. Opened 35 years ago, the exchange centre is a massive swap shop for public and academic libraries across Canada. Libraries donate books and periodicals their patrons no longer use and, in response to requests by other libraries, the centre redistributes them. Canadian Library Association executive director Don Butcher said while it's true that libraries collections are shifting to digital, Library and Archives Canada should have consulted the library community before cutting the centre and made a greater effort to find alternatives.


This is part of the continual elimination of what's left of the National Library of Canada. The current management team (almost all bureaucrats with few librarians or archivists) have:

- cut service hours with no consultation
- eliminated to the Council of Federal Libraries
- questioned the need for interlibrary loans
- separated the staff from the resources

What's next?

It is not the closure that concerns me as much as the manner in which the decision was reached. That this closure was decided without consulting librarians, the people best positioned to consider it, is absolutely disgraceful in a society that claims to be civilized and democratic. It is much more than a slight against libraians, it is slight against those who envisioned it and supported it for all of these years.
Shame on those who practice their bureaucracies with such arrigance!

The lack of consultation is typical of the management team at Library and Archives Canada. Hours were cut last fall with minimal notice (only a sign in the lobby of the building). It was only after massive outcry by users and negative press coverage (plus questions asked in the Senate) that LAC considered public consultations. Even then they did not publicize the sessions and put it in the middle of the day when the people affected by cuts couldn't attend!

A major group affected by this closure will be government libraries who are legally required to send surplus to LAC. No consultation there either, despite the creation of the Federal Libraries office at LAC. Maybe government libraries should send all materials directly to the Librarian and Archivist of Canada as per the act!

I operate a rural high school library. I have made extensive use of the Book Exchange service over the past few years. How wonderful it has been to be able to be able to add books such as the Great Books to our collection. This service has allowed us to cater to the students who are not mainstream readers (and "mainstream" and curriculum are the budget eaters these days).

I am saddened to see the end of this wonderful program. It was such a thoroughly Canadian program--just as the Red Cross once was--because the donors gave from the belief that they were spreading literacy resources without expecting any financial compensation.

I read one comment of justification that stated that people prefer online resources these days. Balderdash! At this school, students read voraciously, and they use all sorts of resources for research. I recently purchased the new editions of general and science encylcopedias because they are in demand. Our students peruse publishers' catalogues and help me select the books that they want to read for recreation. At any give time, I have a file folder with MANY slips of paper suggesting purchases. When books arrive, I have many hands helping me unpack, and I usually end up having to sign the new books out on a "temp" before I get to process them. The kids do not want to wait for them to be put through the system. They want them NOW.

Suggesting that the Book Exchange has outlived its usefulness sounds like an excuse for a budget cut. It has not outlived its usefulness for our library. And, by the number of institutions that show in the address header when we all get notices, I am certain that it has not outlived its usefulness for many other libraries.

Let's call a budget cut a budget cut if that is what this is.

Judy Hitchens
BMHS Library
Nova Scotia

17 March, 2008

Minister of the Environment
c/o House of Commons
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A6

Dear John

Thanks for having one of your staff acknowledge my e-mail on the subject of closure of the Canada Book Exchange.

I agree that Library and Archives Canada should not be continuing to fund the Canada Book Exchange.

Your Department should continue the operation of the Canada Book Exchange as this facility serves as a Federal model of RE-USE rather than recycling or simply disposal of material that might still be of use to someone else. How much is it actually costing to operate the Canada Book Exchange?

It is reported that 143, 000 items were re-distributed for other libraries to use in 2007. Obviously this volume of books will be added to the City of Ottawa’s dumpsters for collection either as recyclable or outright garbage. This will add to the City of Ottawa deficit, obviously yet another example of a higher level literally dumping costs on a lower level of government- and on an environmental issue no less!

Personally, I think the closure of perhaps the only Federal institution involved in RE-USE rather than RECYCLING material is a small but significant indicator of how YOU and your BOSS really feel about the ENVIRONMENT.

Yours truly,

Roy Thomas

cc. Elizabeth May
Mayor of Ottawa


Can the CLA not set this up. What could it possibly cost? The salary of one staff member and postage. Charge a small fee to cover postage for each shipment 5CDN or some other token amount.

Canada does indeed have a postage scheme which gives very discounted postage in such cases, the Library Books Program.

There could be a simple online interface that the sending and receiving libraries into which they may enter the books, and perhaps an online ordering system.

Yes, it is quite disappointing that LAC stopped the service. Stop whinging and do something.