Consolidation and closure of several Department of Fisheries and Oceans libraries, and the downsizing of the Department’s library collections

Vince Graziano
Chair, Concordia University Faculty Association Librarians’ Assembly
Webster Library, LB 285-3
1455 de Maisonneuve West Blvd.
Montréal, QC
H3G 1M8

June 18, 2014

The Honourable Gail Shea, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0E6

Dear Minister:

Concordia University Faculty Association Librarians are troubled by your government’s recent consolidation and closure of several Department of Fisheries and Oceans libraries, and the downsizing of the Department’s library collections.

We understand that libraries are changing and evolving in fundamental ways, and that their collections and services need to be reviewed to ensure that they continue to provide relevant support and resources to researchers and Canadians as a whole. However, we are concerned about the decreased level of service to researchers and the general public, through cutting jobs of librarians and library technicians. The knowledge of these information professionals is deep and valuable; surely some way can be found to trim costs without sacrificing this core service to researchers.

It is also troubling to us that the criteria for withdrawal of materials from these collections have not been transparent. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has said that “The Department has removed duplicates from its collections, and content not required to support the department’s mandate” (DFO Libraries FAQ, accessed May 23, 2014) and that the collections were analyzed according to DFO’s Library Collection Development and Management Guideline. While we are encouraged to hear that this Guideline was approved by the library governance committee, we can’t find any publicly available information that gives more detail on what items were discarded, or how many items were discarded. These are public records, and Canadians deserve to know how they are being managed.

The DFO has also said that it is digitizing documents on demand, which is a good service to users, and that “DFO libraries are mandated by Treasury Board policy to collect, preserve and make accessible all DFO/CCG publications… Those which are only in print form can be digitized on demand. The resulting items in digitized format are preserved, catalogued in WAVES and made available on the internet” (DFO Libraries FAQ, accessed May 30, 2014). Can you explain what your policy is for keeping the printed versions of documents for which the DFO holds copyright, and which have been digitized? Also, how are online versions being archived for future generations?

We urge the Government of Canada to increase its level of discussion and dialogue with Canadian library associations, research communities, and other stakeholders, so as to help inform and seek input from Canadians on the decisions being taken regarding collections and services that affect the quality of Canada’s scientific research.

Yours sincerely,

Vince Graziano, on behalf of Concordia University Faculty Association Librarians

cc: ​The Honourable Mr. Thomas Mulcair, M.P., P.C. Leader of the Official Opposition
​Mr. Justin Trudeau, M.P., Leader of the Liberal Party
Ms. Elizabeth May, M.P., Leader of the Green Party
​Mr. Kennedy Stewart, M.P., NDP Science and Technology Critic
Mr. Ted Hsu, M.P., Liberal Party Critic for Science and Technology
Ms. Janice Harvey, Green Party Fisheries Critic
Ms. Valoree McKay, Executive Director, Canadian Libraries Association
Executive Director, Canadian Association of University Teachers
President, Concordia Students’ Union
Concordia University Faculty Association

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CUFA Librarians Assembly Annual Report December 2012-December 2013

CUFA Librarians Assembly

Annual Report
December 2012-December 2013

By Vince Graziano
Chair of the Assembly

CUFA Librarians Assembly

The Assembly was proposed, discussed and created on December 5, 2012. The Steering Committee – composed of the Chair, the Secretary and the Member-at-Large – was elected at the meeting of January 9, 2013. V. Graziano was acclaimed as Chair, P. Carson was acclaimed as Secretary, and O. Charbonneau and D. Macaulay will share the duties of the Member-at-Large – all for two-year terms ending on May 31, 2015.

Terms of Reference

Drafted by V. Graziano, the Terms of Reference were presented to the Assembly at the meeting of December 5, 2012. With a few minor adjustments, and the proviso that the Terms would be reviewed prior to January 1, 2014, the Terms of Reference and amendments carried unanimously. The Terms were revised by V. Graziano and they were approved, with some amendments, at the meeting of November 6, 2013. The Terms will be reviewed annually.

Letter to the Minister of Canadian Heritage Regarding Cuts at Library and Archives Canada (LAC)

G. Little presented the draft letter to the Minister of Canadian Heritage regarding LAC, written by G. Little, A. Murray, K. Huhn, M. Lake and J. Duy, at the Assembly meeting of December 5, 2012. The Letter carried unanimously. Members unanimously expressed their appreciation to the authors of the letter for their initiative, for drafting the letter, and for introducing this as an item for consideration by the Assembly. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, Mr. James Moore, replied in a letter dated February 25, 2013, which V. Graziano shared with all members of the Assembly.

Job Title: “Assistant Librarian”

The 3 new tenure-track librarians, hired in January 2013, were given the title “assistant librarian,” differing from past practice. It was unanimously agreed that the new job title “assistant librarian” is inappropriate because it diminishes the profession, it sounds like a rank, and does not sufficiently inform colleagues and patrons of the responsibilities of the librarian. The job descriptions did not include specific duties and responsibilities; rather, they pointed to Article 17 of the CUFA Collective Agreement.

CUFA librarians believed that the lack of duties and responsibilities violated Article 17.03, which stated that the “job description, provided to the member at the time of hire, shall indicate the duties and responsibilities that are to be performed by the member.” They also believed that the lack of duties and responsibilities, as well as the job title “Assistant Librarian” violated Article 15.01 c) ii), which stated: “examples reflective of the librarian member’s role in the Library as described in the job description.”

CUFA librarians objected to the Conditions of Work section of the job descriptions, specifically the sentence: “Courtesy and tact is employed to maintain a respectful workplace and a positive image of Concordia University.” This violates Article 3.02 in the sense that it creates working conditions contrary to the provisions of the Collective Agreement, specifically Article 6.01 Academic Freedom: “Freedom of speech and freedom of enquiry guarantees the open investigation and interpretation of ideas and the right to raise probing questions and challenges to the beliefs of society at large.” The society at large includes Concordia University. Furthermore, the right of all members to exercise their academic freedom was not respected.

V. Graziano and C. Bober met with David Thirlwall and Benoit Goyette on January 28, 2013 to discuss the job descriptions and position titles of the three newly hired tenure-track librarians. The Administration agreed to remove the Conditions of Work, but kept the job title and did not re-instate the duties and responsibilities.

V. Graziano requested a meeting with G. Beaudry, newly appointed Interim University Librarian, which was held on June 27, 2013. G. Beaudry stated that she would discuss the issue with the Library Administration Team. At the meeting with V. Graziano on July 11, G. Beaudry announced that the Library will revise the 3 job descriptions to include titles and duties and responsibilities that are in accordance to past practice. The 3 revised job descriptions were issued in August 2013.

CUFA Librarians Assembly Website

The website (https://cufalibrarians.net/) was created by O. Charbonneau on January 9, 2013 and co-administered by O. Charbonneau and D. Macaulay. The Letter to the Minister of Canadian Heritage about cuts to Library and Archives Canada (LAC), the CAUT Librarians Conference Report by V. Graziano, the Terms of Reference, and the minutes of meetings were posted on the website. The minutes were password protected. At the meeting of November 6, 2013, it was decided that the minutes would remain password protected, but that the agendas would be posted openly on the website.

Research Guidelines

A task force composed of O. Charbonneau, V. Graziano, K. Jensen and M. Massicotte drafted the Research Guidelines. After several versions and much discussion, the Guidelines were approved by the Assembly at the meeting of June 5, 2013. The vote was 19 in favour, 1 opposed and 1 abstention. They were subsequently posted on the website.

Working from Home and Flexible hours

There are conflicting messages and a lack of consistency between departments and units in terms of working from home, resulting in an inherent unfairness. Also, the question of taking time off to care for dependents was raised, specifically if taking time off or working from home to care for a sick child/dependent would count as a sick day or a vacation day for librarians. Another issue discussed was the purpose of filling out the orange forms for absences.

An e-mail sent to G. Robichaud by L. Vileno on December 10, 2012 remains unanswered. Rather than having rules on this topic in writing, it could be possible to address it through tacit agreement among CUFA librarians. No resolution on this topic was reached. It was suggested that the Assembly revisit it at a later time.

Governance

A draft text regarding the Library Committee written by S. Poulin was tabled for discussion. Some thought that a Senate seat was more important than changing the mandate and membership of the Library Committee. There was general consensus that a document on governance as a whole was needed. There was a suggestion to form a group on governance issues. The group was formed with these members: R. Coughlan, V. Graziano, K. Jensen and G. Little. The group will begin meeting in 2014. The Group will be examining the options to pursue; among them a seat on Senate, a seat on the Board of Governors, a library council and reform of the Library Committee.

Composition of CUFA Committees

With the former Collective Agreement (2007-2012), it was proposed that the Library Elections Committee (LEC) should ensure the following division-specific composition for the Library Personnel Committee (LPC) and Library Personnel Review Committee (LPRC):

• LPC: 5 available tenured librarians (3 from User Services and 2 from Collection Services/Systems)
• LPRC: 6 available tenured librarians (4 from User Services and 2 from Collection Services)

The 2012-2015 Collective Agreement states in Article 11.09 c) that “The LEC shall endeavor to ensure balanced representation of professional librarian activities in the membership of committees governed by this Agreement.” It was decided that we would continue with the status quo.

Miscellaneous

• A Teaching Discussion Group was formed and met once.
• A group was formed to draft the Checklist for Advisory Search Committees, which will be presented to the Assembly in 2014.
• V. Graziano conducted a dossier workshop on April 19, 2013.
• The composition of the University Librarian Search Committee was discussed, specifically the lack of representation by full-time faculty. The issue will be discussed at another meeting.

The Link on administrator salaries

Infographic by Jayde Nordström from The Link, February 12th 2013
The Link, a student newspaper at Concordia University, offers a glimpse at the increase in administrator salaries. Included in the three named in this piece (“A Substantial Reason to Stick Around” by Riley Sparks on February 12th 2013) is University Librarian Gerald Beasley :

Beasley’s salary increased by $33,812 to a total of $182,437 in 2012, while Beauregard’s increased by $35,000 to a total of $206,670. Freedman received the largest increase—$44,782, which brought his salary to $260,000.

On February 28th 2013, CUFA members will be voting on a strike mandate. Of the many issues, salaries are a contentious one.

Letter to the Minister of Canadian Heritage about cuts to Library and Archives Canada (LAC)

Librarians of the Concordia University Faculty Association
c/o Vince Graziano
Interim Chair, CUFA Librarians’ Assembly
Webster Library, LB-285-3
Concordia University
1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. West
Montréal, Québec H3G 1M8

The Hon. James Moore, PC, MP
Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages
15 Eddy Street
Gatineau, Québec K1A 0M5

December 19, 2012

Dear Minister,

The librarian members of the Concordia University Faculty Association (CUFA) are deeply concerned by cuts to Library and Archives Canada (LAC) announced as part of the 2012 budget. We are also concerned that LAC’s so-called modernization program is being planned and delivered within a vacuum, largely without consultation from professionals, scholars, and users. We believe that the budget cuts and modernization program severely threaten LAC’s responsibility to collect, preserve, and make available Canada’s documentary heritage, as well as its responsibility to provide services utilized by researchers and librarians across the country.

Library and Archives Canada management contend that the cuts to jobs, services, and programs are being implemented to help LAC meet its mandate in the digital age. These claims do not stand up to much scrutiny when the organization’s professional staff has been reduced by 20%. Additional claims that digitization will increase access to collections are dubious when it is known that staff in the digitization section has or will be reduced by up to 50%. Digitization is a worthy but long-term and expensive goal. Identifying it as the ultimate goal of any modernization program does not mean that services and access to analog collections can be reduced in the interim. Moreover, what is the schedule for digitization? What percentage of LAC’s collections has already been digitized? In what order are materials to be digitized in the future? On what platforms will these materials be made available?

We join the numerous national professional organizations and scholarly societies like the Association of Canadian Archivists, the Canadian Association of University Teachers, the Canadian Historical Association, and the Bibliographical Society of Canada in expressing concern that LAC modernization is taking place without adequate consultation and without an infrastructure to support proposed new models of service delivery and access to collections. The elimination of the National Archival Development Program (which had the very modest budget of $1.7 million, almost $2.5 million less than the cost of ads the Government of Canada ran to promote its environmental action plan) is particularly troubling. As we hope you know, the termination of this cost-effective program has prompted professional groups including the Association of Provincial and Territorial Archivists of Canada, the Association of Canadian Archivists, and the University and College Archivists of Canada to withdraw from LAC Stakeholder Forums.

There are many other issues of concern:

  • Interlibrary loan lending service will close this month, with little effort having been made to communicate with librarians or scholars on how to access materials unique to LAC’s collection.
  • Collection development at LAC over the past several years has been passive, meaning that a number of unique items documenting our history and heritage have been lost. This has also shifted the responsibility to collect important items from LAC, Canada’s national repository, to other libraries and archives across the country, which may not have the budgets, staff, or facilities to properly curate these materials. Without a proactive acquisitions program at LAC, there is a distinct and real risk that valuable items and collections connected to our Canadian heritage will not be acquired by Canadian institutions.
  • Onsite reference hours at LAC have been cut and important specialist librarian and archivist positions have gone unfilled for years, depriving researchers of a skilled professional’s help in finding and accessing materials.
  • In October 2012 LAC announced that it is no longer collecting provincial and territorial government publications and will engage in de-selection of duplicate copies already in its collection.
  • The Depository Services program recently announced that it would end the distribution of print government publications to libraries by March 2014. There have been no further plans announced for the development of a stable, online archive for long-term preservation of Canadian federal documents.
  • As of December 4, 2012, the New Book Service web site, which provides important data on new and forthcoming Canadian books, has not been updated since February 2012.

Meanwhile, many national libraries and archives, including those in the United States, Great Britain, France, China, and Australia, are expanding access to services and digital and analog collections and are assuming exciting leadership roles in the creation and promotion of digital collections infrastructure. Why should Canadians expect less?

We have repeatedly heard that all government departments must “do their part” to help reduce the deficit; in drastically reducing the effectiveness and capacity of LAC, we as Canadians are abdicating our role as a nation that honours its own cultural and intellectual production. Library and Archives Canada has a legislated mandate to acquire, preserve, and curate Canada’s documentary heritage and to manage and protect the records of the Government of Canada. Its collections tell the story of our country’s development from early days to the present and represent our shared Canadian experience. Cuts to its budget, services, and staff, as well as a poorly planned and executed modernization strategy, threaten our ability to learn about our past and preserve our stories for future generations.

Yours sincerely,

Vince Graziano

On behalf of CUFA librarians

cc:
Pierre Nantel, MP Official Opposition Heritage Critic
Scott Simms, MP Liberal Party Heritage Critic
Daniel Caron, Deputy Head and Librarian and Archivist of Canada
Daniel Jean, Deputy Minister of Canadian Heritage

CAUT Librarians Conference Report By Vince Graziano

On October 26th and 27th 2012, the Canadian Association of University Teachers held its annual Librarians Conference under the theme “Contested Terrain: Shaping the Future of Academic Librarianship” at the Sheraton Hotel in Ottawa. You may be interested in this report by our YUFA colleague Marcia Salmon (York University Libraries). Please find below a report by our very own Vince Graziano who has attended this conference:

Overview

Academic librarianship is threatened by Wal-Mart style corporate management that cuts costs by deskilling work, outsourcing professional responsibilities, misusing technology and reducing necessary services and positions.

Assessing the Damage

Participants were divided into small structured groups to discuss how the implementation of corporate management styles has had an impact in 4 areas: funding; terms and conditions of work; management practices; hiring and promotions policies. Here is a summary of the discussion:

Funding

  • Across-the-board cuts (easier to be “fair” instead of “strategic” or “surgical”)
  • Always funds for buildings, but never for staff/collections
  • Often funds for “sexy” technology/innovation-driven projects without real merit
  • Too many administrators
  • Undue influence of vendors
  • Donations, naming rights, privatization of public space, prioritization of work from funders; “we’ll do anything for money”
  • Where does money from unfilled positions go?
  • No money for collection development: leads to devaluation of expertise, lack of control over collections
  • Lack of transparency in  budget decisions
  • Metrics, mis-use of statistics to justify budgets; since you can’t count what is valuable, administrators will instead value what is countable
  • Loss of conference attendance funding

Terms & Conditions of Work

  • Because of more junior/untenured/probationary/sessional/part-time librarians, there are fewer librarians who can speak out without fear
  • Complement decreasing, unfilled vacancies, increased workload: can’t do the community service and especially the research required to get promotion
  • Faculty have a 40/40/20 split for teaching/research/community service, while for librarians it is closer to 90/5/5
  • Erosion of specialists; librarians as “plug-and-play” generalists
  • Outsourcing expertise: online “reference”, patron-driven acquisitions
  • Doing away with liaison librarians and replacing them with “strategic” teams
  • Library assistants or graduate students doing librarian duties such as reference
  • Loss of intellectual work: less cognitive, more process-driven
  • Staff positions being cut, librarians picking up the work (and vice versa); blurring of roles; library assistants taking on teaching roles
  • Not enough time for research, too much constraint on scope for research (e.g. research tied to job description); denial or reduction of research leaves

Management Practices

  • Diluting the bargaining unit: turning BU positions into administrative positions
  • Management vs. leadership
  • Lack of transparency
  • Grooming (indoctrination)
  • False consultation; imposition of administrative whim/fiat despite “consultation”, advisory boards, expertise
  • Over-reliance on surveys: popularity contests to determine priorities
  • Librarians not on Senate, etc: denial of participation in university governance
  • Misunderstanding of “collegiality”; respectful workplace policies
  • Never-ending reorganizations; destabilisation, uncertainty
  • Bankrupt the union, admins won’t deal, so everything goes to the lawyers
  • Divide-and-conquer strategy (between departments, units, unions)
  • Customer service mentality: give them what they want, not what they need
  • Micromanagement
  • Measuring of outputs, linked to accountability

Hiring and Promotion Policies

  • Fishy stuff with hiring practices: appointments vs. actual hirings, composition of hiring committees, emphasis on headhunters
  • Salary grid placement of new hires at the lowest possible levels
  • Generic job postings
  • Making MLS preferred, not required
  • Casualization: fewer or no tenure-track hires
  • Move to private-sector-like merit systems

Librarians as Teachers, Researchers and Community Members

  • Academic status is equated with teaching, research and service
  • Theses facets play a role in protecting and advancing our profession
  • Teaching
    • Library credit courses: 27% of 62 universities have it
    • Is the course full-weight or “labs”?
    • Should we be teaching: consensus leaning towards yes
    • Unlike instruction, teaching involves evaluation of students
    • Future of academic librarianship à full-weight credit course
    • Teaching included in professional service in the duties/responsibilities of librarians
  • Cons of Teaching
    • Lack of professional preparation
    • Time requirements
    • Workload implications
    • Equitable compensation
    • Part-timers doing teaching
  • Teaching Challenges
    • Lack of standardization
    • Will those not teaching lose credibility?
    • Information literacy with a social justice context, not skills-based
    • Self-confidence: can we?
  • Benefits of Teaching
    • Closer interaction with students
    • Deeper understanding of faculty workload
    • Better way of meeting curricular needs
    • Enhanced faculty status
    • Increased intellectual stimulation
  • Why we should be teaching
    • Academic librarianship as an academic discipline
    • Revitalized role for librarians and libraries
    • Greater input in governance
  • Universities with teaching in their collective agreements: Guelph, Memorial, Saskatchewan, University of Toronto, Mount Saint Vincent University
  • Research
    • Normal component of workload
    • Should be 40% of workload
    • Need uninterrupted time
    • Should be considered as part of librarians’ evaluations
    • “practitioner-researcher”
    • Pursued for interest
    • Scholarship – advancing knowledge within a discipline
  • Community Service
    • Advancement of profession
    • Relationship with tenure and promotion
    • Distinctive definitions of service in collective agreements
    • Collegial governance is critical for academic status

What is to be done?

  • Individually:
    • Keep up research and scholarship
    • New understanding of teaching as critical thinking
    • Speak up at meetings; challenge decisions that undermine academic freedom and academic status; be pro-active not passive;
    • Increase  personal awareness and that of colleagues; discuss issues with colleagues
  • Through the academic staff association:
    • Promote understanding of librarians’ issues
    • Promote points in common with faculty such as concerns of corporatization
    • Mentoring of new colleagues
    • Meetings of librarian members of academic staff associations: e.g. discussion of the points highlighted in the section “Assessing the Damage” to see which ones apply to our library
    • Librarians’ Councils in the collective agreement
    • Getting involved: librarian member on academic staff associations executive
  • Through CAUT:
    • CAUT Librarians Committee can help with certain situations
    • CAUT documentation: salary surveys, policies on website
  • Through provincial/national organizations:
    • Concerted effort to “take back” Canadian Library Association (CLA)
    • Renouncing CLA membership, whether individual or through institutional membership