Yesterday, July 28, 2012, Larry Alford, Chief Librarian announced that the final submission of the Librarians Workload Policy sent to the Provost’s office had been approved and distributed it to our community. This is excellent news for all in our community. It will take a little time to understand how it will work for both administrators and non-administrators, but this is a major accomplishment. In our previous round of negotiations with the UofT administration, the ‘frozen policy’ approach in negotiations was changed and included for the first time in many years non-monetary issues. The issue was ‘workload’ which had become an escalating issue for faculty and librarians.
As librarians working at the University of Toronto, we are now guided by four main documents: 1991 Librarians Policy, the Memorandum of Agreement (crucial document for it establishes our faculty status, affirms basic rights such as academic freedom), the WLPP Workload Policies and Procedures (the WLPP) which sets the basic principles, grievance process, etc. and now Librarian Workload Policy.
Additional documents exist pertaining to PERA funds (negotiated item), 10 research days (section 3(e) in negotiated settlement ending June 2009).
UofT academic librarians serve faculty in one of Canada’s leading research and teaching institutions and hence, there are several key sections to our new workload policy which we would like to bring to your attention that will have long-term, beneficial contributions to our institution:
- UofT academic librarians have three areas of responsibilities: (professional practice, service and scholarship (defined as research, scholarship and creative endeavours)). Full definitions are included in the policy.
- Our workload is guided by “…by professional standards, service and a commitment to intellectual and academic freedom.”
- “To ensure transparency, a majority of librarians within a unit will meet at least annually with the unit head or supervisor as a group to discuss workload allocations across the unit.” This is important because it supports collegiality, fairness and transparency.
- “Librarians will normally spend approximately 10% – 20% of their time on a combination of service and research and scholarly contributions. This will be largely self-directed. The remaining workload (80% -90%) will consist of professional practice for the Library. In assigning these responsibilities the unit head will take into account the expectation that librarians will engage in research and scholarly contributions and service.”This is in addition to our 10 research days per year. As professionals UofT librarians will manage their own time to this area as well as service and professional practice.
Self-directed means that you, as individuals, have the right to determine the validity and subject matter of your research and service contributions to our community. This has often been a controversial issue. Basically, if your are a qualified musician or archaeologist and also an academic librarian, your research/scholarship/creative endeavours, are self-directed and self-determined – due to academic freedom. Scholarship and research (as defined in our new workload policy) contributes to our understanding of faculty and student needs now and in the future.
A workload policy ensures that you have the right to negotiate a professional workload (annually as outlined as well as on a daily basis) that permits time for also service and scholarship as vital components of your responsibilities. But each of us will need to reflect on what this will mean and assess our workloads accordingly.
This is a major development for our community, one which will take some time to adjust to. If there is an interest on the part of our community to meet and discuss issues concerning this in the future, please contact representatives on the UTFA Librarians committee or the Chair, H. Sonne de Torrens directly (see the members and contact numbers on the right-hand side of this webpage or the UTFA website). We represent your interests and concerns, so don’t hesitate to contact us.