New Librarians and Archivists Forum a chance to strengthen collegial governance

A new venue gives academic librarians and archivists a chance to strengthen collegial governance within Western Libraries.

The inaugural Librarians and Archivists Forum meeting was held April 9 and is modelled after Faculty Councils. The full mechanics of the forum have not yet been finalized, but at least one meeting shall be held per term.

It is the goal of the librarians and archivists bargaining unit not to allow the new forum to become a vacuous space where the library administration merely tells members what it is doing and planning.

“We want it to be an active forum for people to participate and make recommendations – for dialogue to take place – not just information-sharing,” said Brian McMillan, a member of UWOFA’s Librarians and Archivists Stewards Committee which has been involved in getting the Forum off the ground over the past number of months.

“We can raise an issue or recommend actions and the chief librarian will be held responsible and answerable for the actions that they take.”

Past actions of library administrators have led to a sense among librarians and archivists that they were not involved in higher-level discussions. This top-down culture led to the feeling that librarians’ and archivists’ voices were not being heard and, crucially, given sufficient weight in the development of certain policies, procedures, and plans for the library. The recent reorganization of Western Libraries is one example.

This collective sense was apparent when the UWOFA-LA Collective Bargaining Committee (CBC) surveyed members and held focus groups before the latest round of contract negotiations in 2019. Members’ concerns led the CBC to focus in part on the theme of governance; over the next months of bargaining preparations, the CBC established a bargaining goal of creating a collegial governance model for librarians and archivists along the lines of a Faculty Council. During negotiations, the two sides agreed to a Letter of Understanding outlining the terms of the new forum.

The Forum will provide a venue for members to receive regular reports on budget, resource allocation, the Academic Activity Support Fund, projects and initiatives and the work of committees. The following committees shall report regularly at the Forum: Annual Review, Appointments, Nominations and Elections, Promotion and Continuing Appointment, and Workload.

The objectives of the Forum shall include:

  • Engagement in and opportunities to participate in and make recommendations on the development of library and archival annual and long-term planning, policies, procedures, services, projects, and other initiatives
  • Dialogue to enhance understanding, awareness, and recognition of work, activities and initiatives across library operations
  • Consideration of the broader academic, research and information environments within which libraries operate including University, academic and research priorities
  • Engagement in discussion on other matters related to libraries and archives at Western in a collegial setting

Read the full Letter of Understanding here.

"Collegial governance and shared decision-making are pillars of a healthy academic environment,” said UWOFA president Beth MacDougall-Shackleton. “The new Forum will strengthen librarians and archivists' ability to engage in governance and to help guide the academic mission of our libraries and archives.”

Librarians and Archivists Stewards Committee Members

Matthew Barry
Denise Horoky
Roxanne Isard
Brian McMillan
Leslie Thomas
Courtney Waugh
Christina Zoricic