CAUT Guidelines for the Appointment of University Chief Librarians

F.Y. I.

CAUT. “Guidelines for the Appointment and Review of University Chief Librarians and Other Library Administrators Outside the Bargaining Unit” Feb.12, 2011. URL:

These guidelines are intended to assist in clarifying procedures, particularly regarding chief librarians and other library administrators within the context of the CAUT Policy Statement on Academic Administrators.

The library at any university is integral to the academic function of the university and therefore must be understood to be an academic unit. The chief librarian occupies a position that is paralleled by other academic administrative positions in some respects and is unique in others. In most medium to large universities, the chief librarian ranks with deans of faculties or schools and shares many of the responsibilities of deans relating to promotion and tenure, budgeting, and the allocation of resources.

Since the chief librarian presides over a resource that is central to the academic life of the institution broad consultation is required within the university on matters of appointment and review of the chief librarian.

The chief librarian functions as a member of, and also presides over, a group of academic staff with a unique set of concerns within the university community. The effective participation of librarians is essential in the processes that select the individual who will play a major role in their academic and professional lives.

1. The position of chief librarian of a university is an administrative and academic position analogous to that of the dean of an academic faculty. Procedures for the appointment and review of chief librarians should therefore be the same as those used in the university for appointments at that level.

2. A search committee should be constituted according to institutional practice for similar committees and should be broadly representative of the major constituencies within the university. The library should be represented by professional librarians whose numbers constitute the majority of the selection committee. Other major constituencies may include senior academic administration, students, faculty and library support staff, and each constituency should have the right to name its representative(s) to the committee. The choice of the chair should be dependent upon institutional practice in the formation of similar committees. Subject only to the limitations suggested by these guidelines, the Committee should be free to adopt appropriate procedures for the conduct of its business. The Committee should report to the president or equivalent University Officer or her/his delegate.

3. Whenever possible, the Committee should be appointed at least one year in advance of the date when a new chief librarian is expected to take up his/her appointment. In no case should acting chief librarian appointments last longer than two years.

4. The Committee should set the formal qualifications required for the position as well as any special criteria. Such qualifications must include recognized credentials in library science, appropriate experience in librarianship and demonstrated competence in library administration. Just as it is recognized that a dean of an academic department must possess considerable education and experience relevant to his/her academic department, so too is it essential that persons qualified to fulfil the role of chief librarian must possess considerable education and experience in the discipline of academic librarianship. Administrative experience alone, whether associated with a library, academic institution or any other employment, does not qualify a candidate for consideration or appointment to a chief librarian position.

5. The position should be advertised and nominations solicited in the CAUT Bulletin, AUCC University Affairs, Féliciter, major library and academic journals, relevant professional electronic discussion lists, and in libraries and university library schools. The advertisement should specify the qualifications required for the position, the term of the administrative appointment, eligibility for its renewal, and eligibility for continuing appointment as a professional librarian.

6. Representatives from university constituencies outside the library should be given the opportunity to meet with all candidates interviewed. The Committee should ensure that sufficient time is made for the professional Librarians and support staff to meet formally and informally with candidates interviewed. Feedback to the committee all of these groups should be considered before the selection is made.

7. Terms of appointment and review similar to those for Chief Librarians or Directors of Libraries should also apply to their Associates and Assistants, or in other words to Assistant and Associate Chief Librarians/Library Directors, or equivalent positions.

Approved by the CAUT Council, November 1995; revised, May 2003.
This entry was posted in CAUT, Chief Librarian. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s