PLG-London: Statement of Support for the September 2011 Librarians’ and Archivists’ Strike at UWO (University of Western Ontario)

September 9, 2011

The Progressive Librarians Guild London Ontario Chapter supports the Librarians and Archivists on strike, and calls on Western’s senior administration to support equitable pay increases in line with the rest of the province and Canada.

Archivists and Librarians on campus provide an invaluable service to the Western community, and to the overall student experience. They have been integral in making Western one of the most highly respected research institutions. In return, they deserve fair compensation.

In a statement from Janice Deakin, Provost and Vice-President (Academic), and Gitta Kulczycki, Vice-President (Resources & Operations), it was suggested that the impact of not having these employees at their jobs would be negligible to the UWO community of users:

“All campus libraries remain open and most library services will be available, including borrowing and accessing physical materials, accessing electronic materials, directional services, and reference source assistance. However, highly subject specific, in-depth reference services may not be available.”

The absence of “in-depth reference services” is significant at a research institution of this size and scope. That being said, the Librarians and Archivists at Western do a lot more than that.

~ The Progressive Librarians Guild – London Ontario Chapter

————————————————————————————————————

So, what do they do that is so special? (This document was a collaborative effort.)

Librarians and archivists contribute to the overall success of the institution in many ways. The tasks they perform give rise to the conditions which allow for Western to be a successful, research intensive institution.  Librarians and Archivists are a necessary investment, and make a valuable contribution to the success of the institution, its students, and faculty.

The apparent inconsequential loss of having all of our professional librarians and archivists at UWO on strike masks a deeper truth. Due to the diligent and exhaustive efforts of these employees to create a stable infrastructure of library services, it almost appears as if the library can run itself. It can’t.

The seamlessness of the services provided, while commendable, is unfortunately being taken for granted at this institution. For example, on page 4 of the September 9th issue of thegazette (the Opinions section) it was stated, “…students are more acclimatized to Googling and searching through online databases than asking a librarian for help”. This comment highlights the lack of understanding of the work librarians do. The only reason many online databases are available for these students to search is because librarians have negotiated and maintained access rights to them. Ironically, it is due to the striking professionals high level of skill that Western Libraries and Archives appear not to need them at the helm. The Librarians and Archivists at UWO deserve our thanks and respect.

  • Librarians protect intellectual freedom and free access to information for all members of Western.
  • Librarians introduce new students to essential tools for their success at Western: research skills, information resources and technologies — no one else does this on campus.
  • Archivists and Librarians often perform records management tasks. “The ISO 15489-1 standard emphasizes the importance of recorded information as a business asset and cites the role of systematic record keeping for the orderly and efficient conduct of an organization’s business operations. Recorded information is a strategic asset that makes direct, significant, and indispensable contributions to an organization’s objectives, efficiency, and effectiveness.” (see Saffady, 2004, emphasis added)
  • UWO Archivists are committed to preserving “the University’s institutional memory by identifying, acquiring, preserving and protecting its permanently valuable records” (see University Records and Archives Policy).
  • A 2008 study found that there was a return of $4.38 in grant income for every dollar invested in an academic library. (See Luther, 2008.)
  • Library  expenditures  and  professional  staff  have  been demonstrated to have a significant  positive  effect  on  student retention.  See: Mezick, E. (2007). Return on Investment: Libraries and Student Retention. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 33 (5), 551-566.
  • Librarians are crucial in ensuring that students at all levels —  from undergraduate through postgraduate — acquire the information literacy skills needed to find, evaluate and apply high quality information. If Western is to be promoted as a top research university, then the administration must support the continued development of information literate researchers by treating its librarians fairly.
  • Librarians save the institution money by making educated collections decisions.
  • Librarians work with all university departments to ensure that the library’s collections, both in print and online, meet the ongoing research needs of faculty and students.
  • Librarians are available when students need them, through online chat, email, or for support right in the library.
  • Librarians save students and the institution money by fighting for fair copyright legislation and user rights.
  • Librarians contribute to the overall positive environment of the university by maintaining welcoming, accessible, and supportive spaces for students to work and socialize in. Stressed-out students need these safe places which contribute to long-term student success.
  • Librarians help people improve their writing skills, their study skills, their time management skills, their presentation skills, their researching skills…
  • The in-depth knowledge of Librarians facilitates the ability of graduate students and faculty to win prestigious research awards that make Western’s reputation.
  • They have helped me study for a big test.
  • They have helped me plan, research, write, and edit research papers.
  • Librarians and archivists help the university save money by taking proper steps to preserve the collections.This graph depicts Western Libraries’ interlibrary loan lending (in red), and borrowing (in blue) over the past 35 years or so. Thanks to the incredible work by Western’s librarians, UWO has an incredibly strong collection — so strong that

    1) our materials are in high demand from other research institutions

    2) our users borrow from other institutions less because they can often find what they need here.

    UWO’s mission statement:
    “Western provides the best student experience among Canada’s leading research-intensive universities.”

    The School is research intensive, librarians and archivists are fundamental to the operation of a research intensive school, they are the support system for academia.

    The student experience is greatly affected by the academic experience.  The academic experience of students, (and even the social aspect of group study) is aided by librarians/archivists and their work.

    With electronic archival systems always changing and becoming increasingly complex, the expertise of librarians is indispensable for teaching students how to use these tools and meet their research goals.

    For further information on what librarians and archivists do, please see the Sept. 14, 2011 post on UWOFA.

    The Progressive Librarians Guild – London Ontario Chapter also supports the PRIDE Library at UWO, who are standing in solidarity with Western’s Librarians and Archivists by remaining closed until a fair and equitable deal ends the strike.

    Signed:

    Peggy McEachreon        Rob Johnston
    Gita Gulati                       Christina Gehring
    Elizabeth Yates               Joanna Kerr
    Atle Mikkola Kjosen        Joseph Norat III
    Nadine Wettlaufer          Vincent Manzerolle
    PLG Edmonton (Statement of Support)

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One thought on “PLG-London: Statement of Support for the September 2011 Librarians’ and Archivists’ Strike at UWO (University of Western Ontario)

  1. Pingback: PLG London – A Primer | PLG London

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