The Geological Survey of Sweden (SGU) has made media headlines during the past days. This government “expert agency for issues relating to bedrock, soil and groundwater in Sweden” recently changed is director and with the change in directors, there always come other big changes too.
The latest incident involves SGU’s library, which contains books and geological maps dating several hundred years back in time. Much of this work is – from a geological perspective – invaluable, because it only exists in one copy or represents data sets and maps from regions that are no longer accessible. SGU’s new director, who is not a geologist by training, now decided, based on an evaluation by consultancy firm Ernst & Young to close down the library, to move a small part of it to Uppsala University, and to just get rid of the rest. It is completely unbelievable to me how someone can at all consider such a thing! How can one honestly deprive Sweden’s geological community of all these works that have been assembled over so many years? How can one get rid of a treasure trove that is so rich and so important not only for Sweden’s geology and Swedish geologists, without carefully evaluating its importance? How can a consultancy firm decide what is valuable in terms of geology and what is not? And how could the director of SGU specify that all this should be done behind closed doors in order to not attract negative attention in the media?
Luckily SGU and its new director got exactly what they did not want. First an open letter signed by several Swedish geologists (me included), then SGU came in focus in Kulturnyheterna on December 4th, both during the 18:13 and 21:18 news and online; in the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet; and today in Dagens Nyheter.
Let’s hope that all this (unwanted) media attention puts a focus on what is going on at the Geological Survey of Sweden, and let’s hope that the elimination of this valuable library will stop. That SGU is also discussing its research program (the only funding available to many geologists in Sweden today), that it has stopped supporting the popular science journal Geologiskt Forum, and the new planned book on Sweden’s geology are just several more indications that SGU has entered a new era. And this new era really does not look bright for Sweden’s geology and not for Sweden’s geologists!