Historical Bits and Bytes: The Origins of Our UT Librarians Policy

Why does the UT Librarians Policy never change? Other institutions negotiate annual changes to their policies reflecting contemporary issues. Here is a short history of how we obtained our policies and why, for the most part, they have remained the same.

It may surprise many to know that our current policy originated with the submission of a brief to the then, Chief Librarian, Dr. R.H.Blackburn, from a group of concerned librarians from the Reference Department on March 8, 1974. Their concerns initiated a series of meeting, groups and finally, the formation of the Librarian’s Association of the University of Toronto Working Group on the Status of Librarians in 1974-1975 which led to the development of a policy. The actions of a few stirred the involvement of the President, Provost and Governing Council of the University of Toronto, as well as, UTFA.

While UTFA was writing the Memorandum of Agreement, librarians were busy writing the UT Policies for Librarians. Some of the individuals involved in this early period were: the members of LAUT (Librarian’s Association of the University of Toronto) and individuals such as Jane Cooper, Kent Weaver, Gale Moore, Hugh Smith, Liz Avison, Diane Henderson, Jack Cain, Gale Moore, Anne Foster, Kay Marie Mackenzie, Warren Holder and Margaret Ghattas, to name a few, were all involved at some stage.

Most of the clauses in the UT Policies for Librarians dates to 1977-1978, when it was first written. In June 1978 Governing Council approved the policy on the condition that clause (46 (iii)) permitting the termination of permanent status librarians for fiscal reasons be inserted. Hence, today, in our MOA, Article 3: Librarians, states:

“The Working Group on Librarians met during 1977-78 and Policies for Librarians were subsequently approved by the Governing Council in June, 1978. If and when these Policies are approved by the Association, they will become subject to this Agreement and will thereafter not be changed by the University during the term of this Agreement.”

The claim by administration to terminate librarians with permanent status was unacceptable to members of the UTFA executive, hence, the policy was never signed by UTFA.

This explains why the Librarians Policy never appeared as part of the Memorandum of Agreement. This also explains why we have a dated policy which is changed only when specific clauses are negotiated as part of UTFA’s bargaining with administration. And remember, as pointed out in an earlier update, only article VI and VIII can be negotiated as part of the annual bargaining between UTFA and administration.

For those interested, UTFA archives maintains copies of all early correspondence pertaining to this period, as does the UT Archives where correspondence from administrators and the governing council is retained.

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