Academic Librarianship: A Crisis or an Opportunity?
“Academic Librarianship: A Crisis or an Opportunity?" was a one day symposium held at the University of Toronto on November 18, 2011. The symposium provided a forum for stakeholders to consider recent troubling events and developments in the academic library community. The hiring of postdoctoral fellows at McMaster University to replace librarians, the strike by professional librarians at University of Western Ontario in 2011 and threats to the academic freedom of librarians at McGill University have all served as bellwethers and have been rich topics for debate of late. The symposium was intended to provide an opportunity to bring more coherence to the discourse and to consider further initiatives, increased activism, and to begin a process for providing greater leadership around issues relating to academic librarians and academic librarianship.
The day was organized around a series of panels. A number of key stakeholders spoke to specific themes: 1) the role of national and provincial labour organizations and local faculty associations; 2) trends and challenges in education and curriculum at library schools; 3) the role of library associations and professional accreditation; and 4) librarians on the front lines. The symposium emerged with a clear call to action: that it is time to become more pro-active in a collective manner, and to use the tremendous interest generated by this event as an opportunity to seek solutions to the challenges facing academic librarianship in Canada. There was overwhelming support for the creation of a virtual forum to continue the discourse and to bring in those who are interested and willing to become engaged but who were unable to participate in the symposium.