MUALA President Rick Stapleton has received a letter dated June 1 from McMaster President Patrick Deane and Provost Ilene Busch-Vishniac, in response to Rick’s letter of May 16 in which he expressed MUALA’s concerns over University Librarian Jeffrey Trzeciak’s recent presentation at Pennsylvania State University, among other things.

The letter states that the President and Provost are “convening a review of the University Library.”  While they “have not typically conducted … reviews of the Library … this is an oversight that needs to be corrected.”  They will establish a “review committee” that will “be consulting widely”.  They will “meet with librarians (and other library staff) when they are on campus.”  Their report “will be made public and shared through our governance system in a manner identical to that used for academic program reviews.”  In addition, the President and Provost will solicit from MUALA “suggestions for external reviewers”.  They go on to say: “While we do not normally seek approval by interested parties of the members of a review committee, it is our intention to strike a committee that is acceptable to MUALA, to the management team of the Library, and to the broader campus community.  It is our sincere hope that the review team will then be able to advise us unencumbered by any concerns of bias.”

Rick replied positively to this letter on June 22, stating “MUALA will be pleased to participate in the academic self-governance procedure that you outline. We embrace this opportunity that gives voice not only to MUALA as a collective bargaining unit, but also to our individual academic librarian members.”

The review of the University Library is certainly good news.  It shows that MUALA’s efforts over the past few months, along with the support we have had from CAUT, faculty associations, and individual librarians, is paying off.

At the same time, however, academic librarians at McMaster continue to operate under challenging conditions. Last month, we lost 6 librarian positions, 5 of them through a “voluntary departure program” implemented as a result of budget difficulties, and are awaiting word from the library administration on a reorganization of the University Library. As well, the Division of Archives and Research Collections is currently undergoing a review initiated by the University Librarian, to be followed by a similar review of our Map Library. These are the very two departments that Trzeciak—in his Pennsylvania presentation–stated would next be headed by Ph.D.s or post-doctoral fellows, that is, not by librarians.

MUALA will obviously remain vigilant in this environment, and we continue to welcome support from other librarians, academic associations, and other interested parties.