MUALA Statement on Post-Doctoral Fellows at McMaster University Library

MUALA wishes to express our concern over the rising number of post-doctoral fellows associated with the University Library. The job descriptions refer to work, such as:

  • instruction in library resources
  • identifying current and future needs for a given department or faculty for the library
  • assessing library resources, support, and facilities in support of a given department or faculty
  • making recommendations to library administration for improvement
  • promoting greater awareness of library resources, services and facilities for a given department or faculty
  • promoting greater awareness within the library of a faculty’s teaching and research priorities
  • providing support as needed to students and faculty within a given department or faculty

These descriptions of current post-doctoral fellow work, and job postings for post-doctoral fellows, use the same or similar language to current, and/or recent responsibilities outlined in MUALA Position Responsibilities Statements. These descriptions are indicative that librarian’s work is still relevant.

In the midst of repeated restructuring the library and the recent cuts to librarian numbers through a drastic reduction in the salary budget, such position and posting descriptions recognize the value of librarian’s work, but not of librarians. As a result, it is difficult to countenance the seeming replacement of librarians with post-doctoral fellows.

Given MUALA’s responsibility of promoting the welfare of academic librarians employed at the university, MUALA views this as yet another symptom of the erosion of the role of academic librarians on campus, and condemns these actions by the University Library administration.

Furthermore, MUALA is not opposed to working alongside post-doctoral fellows. In fact, possible collaborations and sharing of experiences strengthen the library, and the university. However, systematically replacing librarians with post-doctoral fellows is detrimental not only to the library, and the university, but also the entirety of the academic community.