CAUT: Policy Statement on Academic Status and Governance for Librarians at Canadian Universities

Approved by the CAUT Council, October 1993; revised April 2002, May 2004. URL:

1 Academic status and activities
Librarians at university libraries are partners with faculty members in the scholarly and intellectual functions of the university and as such are entitled to academic status. Like faculty, librarians are skilled professionals who play an integral role in the pursuit, dissemination and structuring of knowledge in the university. They have an important responsibility to instruct faculty members and students, both formally and informally, in the availability and use of library resources which are essential to the academic mission of the university. Many librarians are involved in independent scholarly activity either in the field of library and information science or in other academic disciplines.

In order for librarians to participate fully in the academic mission of the university, procedures relating to librarians’ terms and conditions of employment should be analogous to those of faculty including a similar system of ranks, and procedures for promotion and tenure. Librarians must also be able to devote a portion of their normal workload to research projects and academic and community service and require, as a result, provisions such as sabbatical, research or study leaves. Librarians  must be eligible for paid and unpaid leaves of absence on the same basis as faculty and should be permitted to use such leaves to maintain the currency of their academic and professional qualifications.

Librarians are full members of the academic staff and have the right and obligation to participate fully in university affairs.

2 Academic freedom

Librarians have a duty to promote and preserve intellectual freedom in society. They have a responsibility to protect academic freedom and are entitled to the full protection of their own academic freedom in accordance with CAUT policies. This freedom includes, but is not limited to, the right and duty to exercise their academic professional judgement in the selection of library materials, and to ensure that library materials are freely accessible to all, no matter how controversial those materials may be. The academic freedom of librarians should be protected by tenure.

3 Academic governance

As academic staff, librarians have both a right and a duty to participate in collegial governance of the university. They must therefore be eligible to serve as elected or appointed members on all university governing councils and committees. Though the chief librarian may serve in an ex-officio capacity, all librarians should be eligible to serve as elected members of the university Senior Academic Body, or equivalent body, and its committees.  All governance bodies, including but not limited to Councils and departmental and divisional committees, must provide for the effective participation of librarians.

Librarians should be represented on any university committee whose mandate includes any aspect of the operation of the university library system.

All librarians should be members of a library council. The library council should have the responsibility for the development of policies and procedures for the operation of the library. As with faculty councils, discussion at the library council should include any issue which has an impact on librarians, the library, or the university as a whole. The library council  should be empowered to make recommendations on such issues to the relevant body. The library council should be responsible in turn to the University Senior Academic Body or its equivalent. The mandate and structure of the library council should be negotiated and defined in relevant collective agreements.

Where departments or divisions exist within the library or library networks, all librarians should have a role in the development of departmental and divisional policies and procedures.

Librarians have the right to participate as members of search and appointment committees for all administrative and professional positions in the library.

Academic staff associations must negotiate workload provisions in collective agreements or terms of employment documents that enable librarians to participate directly in the determination and arrangement of their own workload. The right to exercise independent judgement with respect to workload is essential to academic professionalism.

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