Are Non-Librarians Destroying Canada’s Legacy at Canada’s National Library and Archive in Ottawa?

Seemingly isolated developments, the recent comments by Jeff Tzreciak at McMaster University, the move toward structuring our libraries on the corporate model, hiring MBAs and non-librarians to do what has traditionally been done by academic librarians, eliminating the voice of academic librarians within institutions, have gone unnoticed for some time within the University of Toronto and at other campuses. As an explanation, our leaders always seem to have valid reasons, whether they be financial or simply that librarians are unwilling to change, placing the guilt back on those who speak up – a form of repression. Many of our colleagues are convinced that, yes, we mustn’t grumble but accept these changes – this is the way of the future. But is it the future we want and the future our next generation will need?

And when seen on a larger scale – what does this really mean? Penni Stewart, President of CAUT has a published an excellent article in the recent issue of the CAUT Bulletin that expresses what our academic librarians at the University of Toronto have been saying for several years. We must stop the hiring of non-librarians to do librarian work!

Our Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa has ceased to function as Canada’s national repository – all under the deceptive argument of digitization! For some time now, librarians at the University of Toronto have been wondering, is the University of Toronto Library System, the largest library in Canada, going to become the substitute national repository for The Library and Archive Canada? If this is the case, do our senior administrators know what is happening?

As academic librarians we are not against change or digitization, on the contrary, we have led the way in this field. So what went wrong? “In 2009, Daniel Caron, an economist, was appointed the Librarian and Archivist of Canada and there are currently no archivists or professional librarians on his senior management team.” We need to have academic “librarians” making the decisions based not on fiscal reasons but ethical, moral and intellectual reasons that uphold our libraries, their roles in society  for today and tomorrow. Is it too late?

See CAUT article: http://www.cautbulletin.ca/en_article.asp?SectionID=1324&SectionName=President%27s%20Column&VolID=320&VolumeName=No%204&VolumeStartDate=4/8/2011&EditionID=34&EditionName=Vol%2058&EditionStartDate=1/13/2011&ArticleID=3231

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