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


Call for Proposals for Forthcoming Book: In Solidarity: Academic Librarian Labour Activism and Union Participation in Canada

12 Dec

Call for Proposals for Forthcoming Book: In Solidarity: Academic Librarian Labour Activism and Union Participation in Canada


  • Jennifer Dekker, University of Ottawa (
  • Mary Kandiuk, York University (

PUBLISHER: Library Juice Press



With a focus on Canada, this collection will document the labour-related struggles and gains of academic librarians. It will provide historical and current perspectives regarding the unionization of academic librarians, an exploration of the major labour issues affecting academic librarians in both certified and non-certified union contexts, as well as case studies relating to the unionization of academic librarians at selected institutions. The volume will strive to include a broad representation of academic librarian labour activists and those who have rallied to the support of academic librarians in the workplace.


This edited collection will gather the common experiences of Canadian academic librarians and situate them in a national framework with respect to unionization. It will examine the issues that have led to the formal organization of academic librarians, the gains that have been achieved, and the ramifications of those gains. A limited number of chapters exploring relevant issues from a non-Canadian perspective are also being sought in order to provide insight and comparisons in a broader context.


The editors invite chapters that describe activities undertaken by academic librarians, unions, and related associations that further the goals of librarians in the academy from a labour perspective.

Examples of topics that would be of particular interest to the editors include:

  • Academic freedom cases involving U.S. academic librarians, for the purpose of comparing these to the Canadian setting;
  • Librarians and governance on Canadian and / or U.S .campuses;
  • Faculty or academic status of librarians in the U.S., including a comparison with Canada;
  • Successful mobilization or political strategies for unionization or labour actions of academic librarians;
  • Case studies of academic librarians asserting their collective rights in such a way that might provide inspiration or guidance for other groups;Labour action or the experience of strike within the academic library environment.

In particular, the editors would like to encourage chapters that explore the experiences of academic librarians from a labour perspective using a methodological framework as appropriate. Proposals that examine the issues from a theoretical framework are also welcome.


The editors believe that this book will be of interest to academic librarians, labour historians, and those interested in academic labour or unionization of library workers.


Authors are invited to submit abstracts and proposals of 300-500 words to and by January 15, 2013. Notifications will be sent by February 1, 2013. A draft manuscript ranging from 1,500-7,000 words will be due by June 1, 2013. Submitted manuscripts must not have been published previously or simultaneously submitted elsewhere. Following review, articles will be returned via e-mail for revision before final acceptance. All materials will be edited as necessary for clarity. All submissions should include at the beginning an abstract of no more than 150 words, highlighting the scope, methodology, and conclusions of the paper. Authors should follow the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th ed. (2010). We welcome contributions from scholars and practitioners alike. If you wish to discuss your contribution please feel free to contact us.

Submission of proposals should include:

  • Name of author
  • Title
  • Affiliation
  • Contact information
  • 300-500 word abstract

Bibliographical Society of Canada letter about cuts at Library and Archives Canada

20 Aug

We admire this open letter written by Janet Friskney, president of the Bibliographical Society of Canada and our colleague here at York: President’s letter about Library and Archives Canada.

Reply from James Moore

17 Aug

We received an answer from James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, in response to the two letters we sent in May: Reply from James Moore, 7 August 2012.

Open letter to James Moore about NADP and CCA

16 May

[The text here is incomplete and does not include two lists of projects where York University has used the NADP and CCA. Please see the full PDF of the letter.]

The Honourable James Moore, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A6

16 May 2012

Dear Minister:

On April 30, 2012, administrative staff at Library Archives Canada announced that the National Archival Development Program (NADP) and the Canadian Council of Archives (CCA) were eliminated. Without prior consultation or warning to affected stakeholders, the decision was made to cut vital programs and services which feed into the pan-Canadian network of archives which serve researchers from across the country and internationally.

The CCA first received federal support in 1986 and over the last twenty-six years its distribution of federal funding has efficiently and successfully supported the development and advancement of archives in communities throughout Canada. The NADP cost the citizens of Canada $1.71 million a year to operate. In turn, it assists in the operation of the following programs:

  • Outreach and educational activities in communities to help small institutions manage their treasures
  • Development of the national on-line catalogue of archival descriptions, and its provincial and territorial counterparts, so all archives, including the very small, can reach Canadians
  • Provision of archival and preservation advice to archives
  • Job exposure for new graduates from Canada’s archival and information studies programs
  • Access to archival holdings information on-line
  • Cataloguing of archival materials to make them accessible to the public
  • Training opportunities for local archives run by volunteers or one-person operations
  • Site assessments to both urban and rural archives, to safeguard Canada’s documentary heritage
  • Preservation  of at-risk documents and other archival materials, including electronic records

The NADP is a program with direct positive impact on Canadians in their own communities.  The elimination of NADP will have a far reaching and devastating impact across Canada since we are now facing the collapse of the Canadian Archival System comprised of Provincial/Territorial Councils and their members in historical societies, religious archives, municipal archives, Aboriginal archives, ethnic minority archives, educational archives, and others—a system that is critical to the 150th anniversary of Confederation which we will celebrate in less than five years from now.

Cutting this program will have a significant impact across Canada. In addition to six staff members losing their jobs at the CCA Secretariat, eleven archives advisors across the country will lose their jobs. Several provincial and territorial archives councils have suspended operations and thirteen are at risk of collapsing within one to six months; 90 projects for the 2012–2013  year have been cancelled, resulting in job losses at 74 archival institutions; the national office of the CCA will be closing, requiring that two organizations that share premises, the Association of Canadian Archivists (ACA) and the Canadian Historical Association must also move their operations; operations that support the development of[1], the national catalogue of archival descriptions are endangered; and managerial assistance to the National Archival Appraisal Board (NAAB) and the North American Archival Network International Council on Archives (NAANICA) is threatened.

The NADP does not simply provide funding for the maintenance of consulting and advisory services for archival associations: the program also funds many projects across the country to ensure that archival material is preserved, arranged and described and made available to the public. Since 2006 it has provided archivists with the means to hire qualified professionals to generate finding aids, preserve fragile documents, digitize others for greater ease of access and generate electronic finding aids to contribute to their local union lists (in Ontario, this is and eventually consolidate records into and the national catalogue.

The NADP is not icing on the cake. It is a life-line for small institutions to hire professional expertise, buy preservation supplies, or hire a short-term contract archivist to ensure a project is completed.

Since 1992, the Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections has received $178,952 through various grants and funds managed through the Canadian Council of Archives. In turn, the university has contributed matching funds of $105,106 direct and $140,741 in-kind investment. Without the support of grants managed by the Canadian Council of Archives, none of these projects would have been possible. These funds covered projects that purchased vital preservation materials for historical photographs suffering from vinegar syndrome, as well as an ambitious digitization project that preserved live sound recordings of Canadian artists and provided free and open access to digitized materials to the public online. The support of the Canadian Council of Archives provided archivists at York University with the means to hire contract archivists to tackle challenging programming, description, digitization, and preservation projects. A list and cost breakdown of these projects is appended to this letter for your reference.

What the federal government saves in the short term will be miniscule when compared to the long-term impact this will have on the local level in archives across the country and how it will undermine the ability of remaining professionals working at LAC to carry out their legal responsibilities as custodians of the federal government’s records and, more broadly, as the keepers of the collective memory of the nation.

In Ontario, we are facing the loss of three staff members employed by the Archives Association of Ontario (AAO), or the severe curtailing of their activities and programming.  We are also looking at dozens of archival institutions that have been planning (often for years in advance) to apply for a NADP grant to tackle large-scale projects within their own operations being unable to follow through with these plans.

The result of this cost-cutting will be the erosion of a national network of archival descriptions that we have fought for years to establish and grow.  It will undermine our profession’s ability to build and maintain our online databases.  It may eliminate altogether the ability of many institutions to digitize materials at a quality and standard that will ensure long-term accessibility and preservation. Most importantly, it will impede access and promotion of materials that are essential to community-building and the education, enlightenment and empowerment of Canadian citizens.

Archives are a pillar of Canadian heritage and democracy; archival materials support research for publishing, science, technology development and numerous federal government initiatives.  The impact of these cuts will be immediate, its effects will reverberate for years to come and they will undo twenty-six years of national cooperation.

On behalf of the community we represent, we ask that the elimination of the National Archival Development Program and the Canadian Council of the Archives be reconsidered.

Yours sincerely,

William Denton <>

Web Librarian / Steward, Library Chapter, York University Faculty Association

[1] provides Canadians with greater access to our national heritage. The Canadian Council of Archives, in partnership with the provincial and territorial councils, their member institutions, Library and Archives Canada and the Department of Canadian Heritage, invested resources to create,an easy-to-use web application that provides access to hundreds of thousands of historical documents, images and other national treasures—available from the comfort of a classroom, home or office.

Open letter to James Moore regarding cuts at Library and Archives Canada

16 May

[A PDF of this letter is also available.]

The Honourable James Moore, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A6

16 May 2012

Dear Minister:

On April 30, 2012, administrative staff at Library and Archives Canada announced that over two hundred professional staff had been served notice that their jobs were “under review,” and that an estimated 105 positions are slated to be eliminated. This is an estimated 20% of the national institution’s professional complement.

We protest this action, and on behalf of our communities we request you reconsider.

(The announcement was made in tandem with the news that the National Archival Development Program (NADP) and Canadian Council of Archives (CCA) were eliminated. Without prior consultation or warning to affected stakeholders, the decision was made to cut vital programs and services which feed into the pan-Canadian network of archives which serve researchers from across the country and internationally. We protest this action equally, and address it in a separate letter.)

Elimination of professional staff positions

These cuts include the elimination of 21 of the 61 archivists and archival assistants that deal with non-governmental records (materials that include the records of media theorist Marshall McLuhan, hockey legend Maurice Richard and musical genius Glenn Gould among many, many others); the reduction of digitization and circulation staff by 50% (in contradiction of your own public statements that the cuts were to improve online access to records, a process that relies on digitization); a significant reduction in preservation and conservation staff; and the closure of the interlibrary loans unit.

We are deeply troubled by the seemingly arbitrary decisions of ministry staff in making these cuts. Not only do these cuts make increasingly difficult the responsibilities of the remaining archivists and librarians, they also limit the ability of researchers in Canada and abroad to study and research our shared history.

Elimination of professional development opportunities

We are also concerned with the denial of leave or funding by the head of Library Archives Canada for LAC-BAC staff to present academic papers and attend professional conferences hosted by national organizations such as the Canadian Librarians Association. It seems uncharitable that he himself has been invited to present plenary speeches at both events yet prevents his own professionally trained staff from doing the same. Professional development is absolutely essential for institutions such as LAC-BAC to thrive, grow and be exposed to new ideas, technology and organizational approaches. To deny staff the time and funding to attend these professional gatherings is to invite institutional stagnation and apathy.

Closure of Interlibrary Loan Unit

Every week our Resource Sharing staff receives material from LAC-BAC for our faculty, students and staff researchers. Much of this material is scarce or unique: publications of Canadian serials, government reports and dissertations that are not available through commercial vendors. The closing of the ILL department at LAC-BAC will stifle scholarly research and prevent students and scholars who lack financial means from conducting their research at all. It is the elimination of an effective circuit of information, and replacing it with an antiquated, counterintuitive silo will prevent academic inquiry. As Joanna Duy of Concordia University has stated:

My own recent research has shown that university research indicators (total research funding dollars and number of publications produced) at Canadian universities are significantly positively correlated with the amount of Interlibrary Loan borrowing activity occurring at those institutions. This suggests what librarians have known for years: that there is a solid link between research activity and Interlibrary Loan. And while one might assume that, with the wealth of resources available to scholars online, Interlibrary Loan activity at academic institutions would be declining—in fact the reverse is true at Concordia, and a recent article published in the United States notes that Interlibrary Loan activity in that country’s universities has also been on a steady upward climb for the last 35 years.[1]

On the most practical level, the majority of repository institutions operate on the assumption that the copy held at LAC-BAC is the authoritative copy that will always be preserved and accessible. What use is this approach when our national institution is shutting its doors to citizens who cannot afford to travel to consult these materials?

Libraries and archives are a pillar of Canadian heritage and democracy. The holdings of our national library and archival repository support research for publishing, science, technology development and many federal government initiatives. The impact of these cuts will be immediate and its effects will reverberate for years to come. They will undo decades of careful development and preservation of our shared collective memory.

We ask you to reconsider the elimination of these positions.

Yours sincerely,

William Denton <>

Web Librarian / Steward, Library Chapter, York University Faculty Association

[1] Joanna Duy, citing Collette Mak, “Resource Sharing among ARL Libraries in the US: 35 Years of Growth,” Interlending and Document Supply 39, no. 1 (2011): 30.

Letter of support for Toronto Public Library Workers Union, CUPE Local 4948

22 Mar

[A PDF of this letter is also available.]

March 21, 2012

To: Councillor Paul Ainslie, Chair of the Toronto Public Library Board
Jane Pyper, City Librarian

We, the academic librarians and archivists of the Library Chapter of the York University Faculty Association, are writing in regards to the strike at Toronto Public Library and in solidarity with our colleagues in the Toronto Public Library Workers Union, CUPE Local 4948.

Many of the students who eventually come to York University rely upon our public libraries throughout their high school years to help them do their research and achieve their academic goals. Many of our current students use TPL branches as supplementary study halls when they are not on campus. Students, faculty and librarians at York also rely upon TPL collections for various forms of non-academic information for our personal and professional lives. We also have faculty members who make extensive research use of TPL’s special collections. Consequently, we recognize the role public librarians and library workers play in the education continuum and the ways in which Toronto’s institutions of higher learning and our public library system work together to help foster an informed, literate citizenry.

As such we stand with our colleagues at TPL and demand equitable treatment of TPL workers. In particular we ask for fairness to the many part-time workers who often do not have access to benefits and very little opportunity for full-time work. TPL’s over-reliance on part-time workers strikes us as extremely problematic—it must be difficult for library workers to develop meaningful relationships with their patrons when they only work a few hours a week. Such relationships between library workers and communities are integral to developing needs-based programs and collections. Also, recruitment of new, talented librarians becomes an issue in this labour framework—who would want to work at a place where you might wait ten years before finding full-time work? That the TPL has been as successful as it has under these difficult circumstances speaks well to the dedication, passion and integrity of the people who work there—but how long can this situation continue?

We also note that in eliminating job security for people with less than 15 years of service, 70% of Local 4948 will become more vulnerable and precariously employed than ever before. TPL already lost 107 positions due to budget cuts this year, despite increases in circulation statistics and gate counts—there simply cannot be any further cuts to staffing. The outside workers union (CUPE 416) does not have as many part-time workers and hence it is unfair to use the same bargaining strategy with both unions. We also note that the majority of TPL employees are women, and that any further cuts to TPL staff serves to marginalize women who are employed by the city by reducing their numbers and increasing the precariousness of the remaining women’s employment standards.

Lastly, we consider Rob Ford’s agenda a local manifestation of what we are seeing happening in many regions, namely an evisceration of decent jobs that offer a living wage. The people on the picket lines are not some special breed—they are ordinary people attempting to maintain some semblance of job security and decent pay. They are our neighbours and they are us. They are people who rely on decent employment for the well-being of themselves and their families. We suspect that many of them (like us) are not in a position to endlessly sacrifice for some neoliberal agenda of austerity. Communities are hurt by strikes, but let’s understand who is being hurt the most: ordinary people, citizens and taxpayers, trying to make a living.


William Denton <>
Union Steward
On behalf of the Library Chapter of the York University Faculty Association