Statement on MUALA strike vote

16 Oct

We, the professional librarians and archivists at York University, are disappointed by the treatment the McMaster University Academic Librarians’ Association has received from McMaster in collective bargaining, and disheartened to learn our colleagues were forced to a strike vote, which passed unanimously last week.

McMaster University Library and its librarians and archivists have suffered for years. We wrote a letter in May 2009 about the firing of two librarians and then again in June 2011 about then university librarian Jeff Trzeciak’s bad management and grim plans:

In particular we express our grave concern over the recent downsizing of professional staff, the casualization of labour at McMaster University Library, and the recent comments from Jeff Trzeciak, the University Librarian, diminishing the value and future of librarians at McMaster. Such comments provide clear evidence of a highly uncollegial and unsupportive work environment. We have previously written indicating our distaste for the organizational restructuring that led to the creation of new positions quickly deemed irrelevant and the subsequent firing of two highly respected senior colleagues. As new and even more worrisome issues grow increasingly apparent, we are compelled to write again.

Soon after that, MUALA was formed and negotiated its first collective agreement. Jeff Trzeciak left McMaster, and we expected the situation to improve. It could hardly get worse. But it appears it has, and again we express our grave concern and again we are compelled to write.

The concessions demanded are outrageous:

The employer seeks to:

  • delete the requirement to use a Search Committee in the hiring process and the inclusion of members on the Committee
  • delete substantial portions of procedures and criteria associated with promotions and evaluations
  • delete the right not to do the work of other striking or locked-out employees
  • exclude contributions to MUALA as professional service
  • delete most MUALA rights to release time to engage in union activities
  • exclude work with external organizations as part of academic service

These are a full-out attack on the academic status, roles and responsibilities of librarians and archivists at McMaster. It is shocking that McMaster would seek these concessions, and an embarrassment to it as a university in Canada. McMaster diminishes itself in every way, every year, by its continuing attack on its own library.

We request that McMaster University drop its concessionary demands and resume bargaining in good faith with the aim of a fair and equitable settlement that respects the important role librarians and archivists play at McMaster.

William Denton and Patti Ryan
Union Stewards
On behalf of the librarian and archivist members of the York University Faculty Association

Team Harpy

17 Oct

We, the librarians and archivists of the Library Chapter of the York University Faculty Association, call on Joe Murphy to drop the $1.25 million lawsuit he has initiated against Lisa Rabey and our York University colleague, nina de jesus.  As librarians and archivists, we are committed to the principles of openness and constructive dialogue about the issue of sexual harassment in our profession, and believe that using the legal system to attack Rabey and de jesus serves only to circumvent those useful and necessary discussions and further silences victims of harassment.   We extend our support and solidarity to our colleagues, and call upon other librarians and thinking people to do the same, by donation, sharing information and/or signing the petition. More information on #teamharpy can be found at the Team Harpy web site and in the Team Harpy FAQ.

YUFA librarians will refrain from acquiring titles published by Edwin Mellen …

26 Feb

WHEREAS, Edwin Mellen Press continues to litigate against Dale Askey and McMaster University; and

WHEREAS, We understand such litigation to be an attack on freedom of expression; therefore be it

RESOLVED, That YUFA librarians will refrain from acquiring titles published by Edwin Mellen until such time as Edwin Mellen ceases its litigation; and be it further

RESOLVED, That YUFA librarians urge Kansas State University and McMaster University to defray in full Mr. Askey’s legal fees in recognition of their institutional obligation to protect the academic freedom of faculty and librarians.

Passed by the Library Chapter of the York University Faculty Association, 26 February 2013.

Dale Askey is being sued

8 Feb

Edwin Mellen Press is suing our colleague Dale Askey (associate university librarian at McMaster University in Hamilton) twice, once alone and once with McMaster itself, for comments he made on his blog in 2010 about the quality of Edwin Mellen publications.

Dale Askey said in an email interview that it was “my job to assess the quality of books, and I did so based on many years of experience in the field… As a qualified and experienced librarian, I was sharing a professional opinion for consumption by peers.”

Dale Askey has the freedom to comment on publishers and the quality of their publications. We librarians and archivists, members of the library chapter of the York University Faculty Association, fully support him in his exercise of academic freedom and freedom of speech.

Related links:

Who Speaks for Libraries and Librarians?

5 Feb

Lisa Sloniowski has posted the text of her talk at the CAUT Librarians Conference in Ottawa last October: Who Speaks for Libraries and Librarians?

Contested Terrain: Shaping the Future Academic Librarianship

19 Dec

Four York librarians were at the October 2012 CAUT Librarians conference, “Contested Terrain: Shaping the Future Academic Librarianship.” Lisa Sloniowski (with Jennifer Dekker from the University of Ottawa) gave a talk called “Who Speaks for Libraries + Librarians?” Three others attended and wrote conference reports: Mary Kandiuk, Marcia Salmon and Nick Ruest.

Canadian Association of Professional Academic Librarians (CAPAL)

19 Dec

[This is a reposting of an announcement that has been sent to several mailing lists. Two York librarians, Mary Kandiuk and Stephen Spong, are on the CAPAL organizing committee.]

Dear Academic Librarian Colleagues,

We are writing to share with you information about a new, national non-profit membership organization that is being created to promote, advance and support the profession of academic librarianship and to further the professional interests of academic librarians in Canada: the Canadian Association of Professional Academic Librarians (CAPAL). After the November 18, 2011 Symposium, “Academic Librarianship: A Crisis or an Opportunity” held at the University of Toronto, there was a clear directive from those attending that there was a need for a strong, vocal and pro-active association to support the interests of academic librarians in Canada.

While we share many values and goals with librarian colleagues working in other sectors we believe that there is a need for an association focused specifically on the unique concerns of academic librarianship. To this end, we define professional academic librarians as those colleagues with a master’s degree from a program accredited by the American Library Association (or from a program in a country with a formal accreditation process as identified by ALA’s Human Resource Development and Recruitment Office) who work at, or aspire to work at, degree-granting post-secondary institutions.

Since the fall symposium, a small working group has started to lay the foundation for such an association. Three documents, a Mission Statement, a Terms of Reference and Academic Librarianship: A Statement of Principles have been prepared in anticipation of the creation of this organization. A website has been created and a membership page has been set up in Eventbrite. Interested members can join the association and at that time indicate their willingness to join committees that reflect the interests of our community. In the hope of fostering a strong new generation of professionals, we have also made provisions for the establishment of a student committee which will act as an active liaison between the organization and future academic librarians-in-training.

In the first year we will need to build and strengthen our infrastructure, working with our committees to identify and set priorities, and to begin to lay the groundwork for future plans. The first membership meeting is being planned for the end of January in Toronto. We hope you will join us!

Website address:

Eventbrite address:

Email for CAPAL:

Members of the Organizing Committee


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