Report of the Chair of the Librarians Committee, 2016–2017

April 10, 2017
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The work of the Librarians Committee continues to inclusively and collaboratively foster community by building on the work and ideas of previous chairs, members, and the wider librarian community. Investment in a collegial, diverse, transparent, and equitable future for academic librarians at U of T is at the forefront. We seek consultative processes; equitable opportunities and procedures; fair working conditions; and consistent practices across our three campuses. 

In this busy year, especially as we prepare to enter into negotiations, the Committee has focused on: 

  • reviewing its communication strategies
  • connecting with colleagues at other Canadian universities who have recently been in negotiations
  • researching Canadian academic librarian, teaching stream, and faculty policy standards
  • embracing transparency through candid conversations with Administration
  • engaging UTFA members in librarian issues through outreach initiatives 
  • canvassing the U of T librarian community through surveys and consultations
  • distilling community feedback, synthesizing research, and sharing results with the community

In an attempt to have the most inclusive Committee possible, the year began with an open call to all U of T librarians to serve on it. As a result, the roster includes keen new members, experienced continuing members, representation from all three campuses, and a variety of appointments. 

To better prepare to represent librarians in negotiations, four librarians took part in the CAUT Librarians’ and Archivists’ Conference on Collective Bargaining. This was an exceptional introduction to bargaining and CAUT, and a means to build relationships with academic librarians and archivists from across Canada. 

Visibility of the significant contributions of librarians at U of T is vital. A postcard campaign was launched in 2015–2016 to highlight academic librarianship, aiming to educate non-librarian UTFA members about the diverse work of librarians, and to raise the profile of individual librarians. The campaign will continue this year in a digital version, featuring two librarians from UTSC and two from UTM. The Committee also acknowledges the importance of service to the University and is establishing a Librarian Service award. Additionally, we are organizing an open access event. 

The Committee worked on a survey about the modernization of the Policies for Librarians that was circulated to librarian members. We are grateful for the time that librarians took to share their voice, perspectives, questions, comments, and concerns. To gather greater insight into the responses we received, we will be holding consultations on all three campuses in May. It is important for members to have an opportunity to expand on what was captured by the survey and address what was not. 

I must acknowledge many colleagues who have enriched my first year as Chair, with its attendant learning curve. I deeply appreciate the dedicated committee members who have graciously provided sage guidance. Harriet Sonne de Torrens is owed much gratitude for the leadership and mentorship roles she has filled throughout her service on the Committee, the Librarians and Administration Joint Committee, and the Advisory Committee on Academic Librarians’ Policies. UTFA staff are an invaluable resource, exemplifying professionalism and collegiality. Last, but not least, in my status as the new kid on the UTFA Executive block, those on the Executive Committee showed me the ropes and provided insights and integrity that reflect the excellence of the U of T community.

Kathleen Scheaffer
Chair, Librarians Committee