Historical Bits & Bytes – Defining Academic Librarianship in the 1960s

Looking back to the 1960’s when graduate studies was on the rise in the Province of Ontario, a report was prepared by the University of Toronto President’s Committee on the School of Graduate Studies entitled Graduate Studies in the University of Toronto 1964-1965 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1965). The members of this committee were H. Northrop Frye, John C. Polanyi, John C. Cairns, Harry C. Eastman, Kenneth C. Fisher, A.C.H. Hallett, Charles S. Hanes, Robert F. McRae, Ernest Sirluck, Willian C. Winegard, chaired by Bora Laskin. A chapter is dedicated to the UofT Library, “The Library” and several recommendations were made. Those concerning the ‘substance of what constituted academic librarianship’ are of particular interest, for what was needed yesterday remains a vital component of what constitutes ‘academic librarianship’ today. Today, however, we view these selective areas of expertise, which in the report are referred to as ‘bibliographers’ and ‘scholars’ and ‘subject experts’ as an integrated part of what defines academic librarianship today. Obviously, these are but a part of being an academic librarian – but these mid-1960s references are early acknowledges of a changing landscape that would alter our profession. The recommendations acknowledged contemporary divisions amongst our colleagues but are interesting from the perspective of today. Many of these recommendations have been developed over the years and integrated into our professional responsibilities. The recommendations were:

1) “A central channel of information on forward planning of new academic programmes should be established between the graduate departments and the Library…(pp. 136-137)

2) “Trained bibliographers should be appointed in consultation with the departments to posts inside the Library…”(pp. 136-137). This is an area of expertise that has gradually been integrated into the profession of academic librarianship.

3) “Another category of personnel [in the Library] that we believe must be established: that of the research scholar, attached to the library and on the ordinary professorial salary scale…” (p.110).  This recommendation responds to a need in the library and suggests librarianship was not fulfilling.

4) Cross-appointments were suggested between departments and the Library (p. 110). Today in the humanities and sciences UofT has a few examples of this type of collaboration with respect to individual positions but also by the function served by the many smaller departmental libraries.


This entry was posted in Historical Bits and Bytes, University of Toronto, University of Toronto Libraries, UTFA Librarian Committee Members. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Historical Bits & Bytes – Defining Academic Librarianship in the 1960s

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