How are academic librarians perceived in the academy?

The following views are my own about the Trzeciak controversy:

  • I don’t like Trzeciak’s methods but I don’t know his motives; when the controversy erupted, I would have enjoyed hearing from him on his blog; so far, no response (why don’t you respond and clarify for us, Jeff?)
  • I would like him to respond to this statement: CAUT believes that academic librarians are full partners with faculty members in the scholarly and intellectual functions of universities and colleges. Librarians have the right to participate fully in the academic mission of their institutions.”
  • I’m not a fan of LJ’s anonymous Annoyed Librarian blog but her/his post yesterday is worth reading for it makes some points about our collective insecurities; and, how poorly McMaster’s UL framed his points and how well bloggers decontextualized them
  • See UofT Library response
  • Trzeciak’s comments, apart from touching some subconscious (and some not so subconscious) librarian insecurities, stir up in me a sense of marginalization in the academy (I do not have the PhD) but feel the need to do more than react to vague generalizations on powerpoints and the supposed future plans  of one controversial university librarian
  • as an academic reference librarian who sees diminution of clients, questions and use of print (mostly journals, not all monographs) as a challenge (not The Death Knell) I’m reminded of how I have had to reframe & recalibrate reference courses I teach at SLAIS
  • in medicine, in the absence of physical desks and even some libraries, how can we stake our claim to relevance? Taking on illogical, ill-framed arguments is a good first step (but we should consider asking all ULs in Canada to comment on the Trzeciak controversy – perhaps hire a good journalist to do a story for CAUT?)
  • student librarians tell me (and I read in the literature) that library schools are dropping mandatory “core” cataloguing, classification and reference courses from curricula; if not they have them repackaged as “digital-only information sources and services”
  • similar print deskilling and deprofessionalization has been occurring in academic libraries as well; my comment is that once we remove physical libraries and print collections as objects of our collective ‘jurisdiction’ and replace them with abstract concepts our means of survival has radically diminished (and administrators like Trzeciak will jump on them as means/excuse/strategy to cut personnel)

It seems to me we need to find a way to articulate our rightful place in the digital age while taking full account of our agency, relevance to research and the academy and stake our claims. If we are willing to put so much currency on Trzeciak’s views, certainly the opposite perspective will also be worth some debate. Perhaps CARL/ABRC can consider a future symposium on such topics?

Dean Giustini
UBC biomed branch librarian

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