The Academic Librarian: Ranks and Titles

Where did our four ranks, Librarian I-IV, originate? More than sixty years ago, in 1954, Stewart Wallace, University Librarian, approached Vice-President of UT Claude T. Bissell with a proposal to establish four ranks or levels for librarians, in a category outside the general administrative stream (Blackburn, 180).

Today, post-secondary institutions, like Queens, Guelph, York, Brock, Manitoba, Regina and Calgary, to name only a few, have established three ranks, in keeping with their professorial ranks. These institutions have collective agreements which include the faculty and librarians, and therefore, aim for parallel terminology and status.

Generally, the numeric designations from I-III or I-IV are changing to reflect the similar status with faculty. In the case of the more progressive institutions, Librarian I = Assistant Librarian, Librarian II = Associate Librarian and Librarian III-Librarian, with the Chief Librarian designated sometimes as University Librarian or Dean of the Library. The universities where this has been accomplished are: Manitoba, Calgary, Guelph, York and Queens.

Recently, when the UTFA Librarians Committee enquired about the process of selection for the Chief Librarian, we were told by Provost Misak that the Chief Librarian, being the equivalent of a Dean, and hence, was subject to the same search process. If this is the case, shouldn’t we be seeking similar status and be requesting three ranks, instead of four, and the titles of Assistant Librarian, Associate Librarian and Librarian which reflect our academic status?

Sources: Robert H. Blackburn, Evolution of the Heart: A History of The University of Toronto Library Up to 1981. University of Toronto Library, 1989 and CAUT Collective Agreements Database.

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