New Resource Page on CAPAL Website Reply

Please note that we are developing a Resource Page for the CAPAL website with links to relevant issues pertaining to academic librarianship. We are also developing a list of professional blogs maintained by our colleagues. We are accepting suggestions, please write to . This is a work in progress.

Support Dale Askey & Academic Freedom Reply

One simple way of showing support for Dale Askey and academic freedom is to add the following statement and information to your professional signature in your email. If we all do this, it will be a powerful display of support from academic librarians.  Spread the word and join us! We cannot afford to be silent – if we are, who will be next?

I support Dale Askey.  I support academic freedom.
=> More info: or More info
=> Petition: or Sign the petition

EX LIBRIS ASSOCIATION Call for a Parliamentary Review of Libraries and Archives Canada Reply


After 2004, when the functions of a national library, archives, and potential museum were assumed by LAC under new legislation, various studies were undertaken to determine what LAC might achieve and how it might serve Canadians. Generally, it was established that LAC would (1) be a new knowledge institution; (2) provide national leadership and focus to library and archives; (3) cooperate and work with other groups to strengthen the whole of Canada’s heritage; (4) be a national public learning institution; and (5) be a leader in government information management.

How has LAC fared since 2004? How do its library policies and operations measure up when examined using basic yardsticks like the Information and documentation: Performance Indicators for National Libraries, adopted by the International Federation of Library Associations in 2009? Has it lived up to the spirit of the International Council of Archives Universal Declaration on Archives, adopted in 2010, to support the growth of archival activity in Canada? Currently, does it have adequate federal funding to maintain and develop its services to the public?

After examining the past nine years, 2004-2013, ELA has concluded in a separate backgrounder—LAC Service Decline—that LAC is wanting in many areas and actions.


In 2009, LAC halted paid acquisitions to review its activities. As a result, new non-government archival materials, special manuscripts, and books no longer receive the attention they deserve and its section for private archives has basically been dismantled. The concept of “total archives,” a Canadian contribution to archival thought, no longer has relevance at LAC. Further, LAC announced in 2012 it was significantly cutting back on government publications from provinces and also foreign content.

In 2005, LAC began to frame a “Canadian Digital Information Strategy.” However, after releasing reports in 2007 and 2010, LAC essentially ended its role as a facilitator of the process and announced its own plans to phase out paper and “go digital” with theses, government publications, and a digital repository essentially for government purposes even though many Canadians do not have Internet access.

Despite repeated pronouncements about ramping up its digital operations in 2012, LAC actually reduced its budget and staffing for this activity. External estimates of LAC’s ability to digitize its own current resources extend beyond this century and LAC has not indicated how it plans to accomplish its policy.


Since 2007, LAC has deliberately reduced direct public reference access at 395 Wellington Street despite repeated protests from groups and individuals and its own “advisory” groups. Currently, Genealogy Services remains adequately staffed; otherwise it is necessary to book staff appointments. Email responses are not an adequate substitute for many users. Also, LAC ended its long-standing activity of mounting exhibitions at 395 Wellington Street in 2010 in favour of travelling exhibitions and loans adding an austere atmosphere to the public face of this building.

In 2011, LAC eliminated live chat service without explanation although many libraries use this method to interact with clients. LAC repeatedly indicates it intends to better utilize electronic methods to reach Canadians (such as podcasts, Twitter, and Facebook) but these substitutes do not allow for extended assistance.

In 2012, LAC formed an advisory group to discuss the future of AMICUS, Canada’s national catalogue of holdings, with a view to downgrading standards for its content and to outsourcing its development after it terminated most of its cataloguers. Archival description has also been reduced for many records.

In 2012, LAC ceased its longstanding “full service” operations in interlibrary loan, a retrograde step for a national organization. After terminating ILL staff, it formed an “advisory” group to formulate a new plan for its interlibrary loan activities, essentially to become a “lender of last resort.”


In 2007, LAC dismantled the Council of Federal Libraries (est. in 1976) and only retained the successful purchasing consortium developed by this agency. Presently, LAC does not have an identified strategy to maintain and support federal government library collections and services in departments and agencies.

In 2008, LAC unilaterally closed its Book Exchange Centre for Canadian libraries, opened in 1974.

In 2009, LAC ended funding for the successful Archival Community Digitization Program resulting in a loss of more than $500,000 annually for work by organizations across the country.

In 2010, LAC announced closure of its Learning Centre website despite protests by the Canadian Teachers Federation and other school organizations that used the products aimed at students and teachers.

In 2009, LAC’s substantial work to provide assistance for the Initiative for Equitable Library Access to plan for the needs of Canadians with print disabilities ended with a short report and no further activity after years of effort and considerable expenditure.


In 2010, LAC cancelled a film screening of “Iranium,” but was directed by the Minister of Canadian Heritage, James Moore, who disapproved of this setback to intellectual freedom, to reschedule the program immediately.

In 2012, LAC ended $1.7 million support for the National Archival Development Program. About 90 projects across Canada were cancelled. Archival organizations withdrew from LAC’s newly formed umbrella group, the Pan-Canadian Heritage Program, due to LAC’s “controlled agendas” and the failure of meaningful dialogue at meetings.

In 2012, LAC withdrew from the Association of Research Libraries, North America’s premier organization for large research organizations, e.g., Library of Congress and principal Canadian libraries.

In 2012, Daniel J. Caron’s keynote speech at the Canadian Library Association in Ottawa underwhelmed his audience. Shortly afterwards, Dr. Caron cancelled his address scheduled for the Association of Canadian Archivists.


As a knowledge institution, LAC is struggling under debatable priorities and recent federal budget cuts. Since 2011, various groups, such as the Canadian Association of University Teachers, Canadian Association of Law Libraries, and Bibliographical Society of Canada, have begun to challenge LAC’s priorities and activities. Ex Libris wrote to the Minister of Canadian Heritage in February 2012 indicating our members concern with LAC’s direction and budgetary priories and followed with a letter in May protesting budget cuts. No responses were received from the Minister of Canadian Heritage or LAC.

In view of LAC’s unconvincing performance after 2004, ELA calls for a thorough review of LAC’s mandate and operations by Parliament, the authority that establishes and funds LAC. Most people have forgotten that the initial report on the future of the National Library and National Archives in 1999 did not recommend amalgamation. It favoured the continuation of two separate agencies.

ELA is in favour of a national library and archives that is proactive, transparent, and accountable for its policies and actions.According to current legislation, LAC is charged

(a) to acquire and preserve the nation’s documentary heritage;

(b) to make that heritage known to Canadians and to anyone with an interest in Canada and to facilitate access to it;

(c) to be the permanent repository of publications of the Government of Canada and of government and ministerial records that are of historical or archival value;

(d) to facilitate the management of information by government institutions;

(e) to coordinate the library services of government institutions; and

(f) to support the development of the library and archival communities.

ELA believes LAC is failing to make progress in most of these areas and takes the following positions.

ELA is opposed to LAC’s unilateral decision-making by its repeated use of ad hoc administrative announcements on service changes or closures, its contrived use of advisory groups, the minimal significance it places on input by library and archival groups, and the consequent transfer of responsibilities and costs to other libraries.

ELA is opposed to LAC’s ill-advised disproportionate commitment to digital operations to the detriment of “analogue” content (LAC newspeak for non-digital forms) in its collection and service priorities.

ELA is opposed to LAC’s deprofessionalization of its workforce and to reductions to services to the public and to Canada’s libraries and archives provided by professional librarians, archivists, and technical staff by relying primarily on electronic substitutes via the Internet.

ELA is opposed to LAC’s non-consultative manner in dealing with national issues, such as cessation of the National Archival Development Program and sweeping reductions to interlibrary loan services.

ELA supports the concept of LAC acquiring published book and non-book materials as well as private and Government of Canada archival materials by all means—legal deposit, purchase, gift, exchange and transfer—in order to maintain a comprehensive library of Canadian content for preservation and long-term access purposes. ELA is opposed to fragmentation of collections by distribution to other institutions.

ELA favours continuation of national library and archival network operations, comprehensive national bibliographic records and archival descriptions, a Canadian digital strategy for libraries and archives, and related international liaison funded by LAC and having LAC as the central node.

ELA supports the concept of LAC providing national leadership through forums for research, regional and national support for all types of libraries and archives, and specific, long-term schemes that help Canadians achieve the best possible access for research and learning.

ELA believes that LAC should be more proactive in working with schools, libraries, archives, and museums to provide educational content, services, and interloans to the public, students, and researchers.

Finally, Ex Libris supports efforts to have a committee of Parliament review LAC’s failings (and few successes) since 2004 in order to confirm its comprehensive mandate to collecting and public services and to examine its leadership role. ELA is opposed to legislative amendments that would legitimize existing reduced service levels developed since 2004 or significantly alter its current legislative objectives.

Say NO to Intimidation – Say YES to Intellectual Freedom Reply

CAPAL urges its members and affiliated organizations in Canada to continue to pressure Herbert Richardson, founder and editor of Edwin Mellen Press, to drop the remaining libel lawsuit against the Dale Askey, Associate Librarian, at McMaster University. If you or your colleagues have not signed the petition circulating, please do so:  Urge students, faculty and associations to continue to apply pressure. We cannot allow this kind of intimidation to continue and jeopardize intellectual freedom in Canada.

Mellen Press – Update in Chronicle for Higher Education Reply

Since the original announcement by the CBC, there has been uncertainty about which of the lawsuits have been dropped, as more than one was launched by the Edwin Mellen Press. In today’s Chronicle for Higher Education it states that only the $3 million dollar lawsuit against the librarian, Dale Askey and McMaster University has been dropped.  The $1 million dollar lawsuit against Dale Askey has not been dropped, according to a statement in the article.  Here is the link to the article in today’s edition:

CAPAL Adopts Bilingualism 1

The official French name for CAPAL will be the Association canadienne des bibliothécaires académiques professionnels (ACBAP). The CAPAL listserv has started to introduce this feature. Work is currently underway to create a bilingual website. More soon.

CAUT Releases Statement: McMaster University to Pay for Dale Askey’s Legal Costs Reply

Today, March 1, 2013, on  the librarians’ CAUT list, Jim Turk, Executive Director, released good news, a public statement about McMaster University’s willingness to cover Dale Askey’s legal fees:


We are pleased to advise you that McMaster University has made arrangements to ensure Associate University Librarian Dale Askey can cover his anticipated  legal costs in defending himself against the defamation suits  filed against him by the Mellen Press and its owner.

Nous avons le plaisir de vous annoncer que l’Université McMaster a pris les dispositions nécessaires pour que Dale Askey, bibliothécaire agrégé à l’Université, soit en mesure d’assumer les frais judiciaires lies à sa défense dans l’action en diffamation intentée contre lui par Mellen Press et son propriétaire. »



Membership Update Reply

CAPAL Listserv Launched

The CAPAL steering committee has established a membership listserv for CAPAL members to share information, ask questions and help in the formation of CAPAL.

Website and Bilingualism

In the coming months, the CAPAL website will be transferred to a hosting service. A bilingual website is currently being designed to ensure that CAPAL speaks to all our members across Canada.

Summary of Inaugural Membership Meeting held January 31, 2013

Due to technical difficulties with the auditory equipment and the subway under the OISE building no recording of the meeting is available. Instead, a summary (see below) about the main topics and questions has been prepared.

CAPAL Membership Meeting

January 31, 2013, OISE Auditorium, 3 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.

The meeting began with an Open Forum which was open to all. A welcome and an introduction were provided by members of the Steering Committee.  Those in attendance were informed that CAPAL is an organic evolving entity at the moment; it is responding to a perceived need and developed out of the “Academic Librarianship: A Crisis or an Opportunity? Symposium” held at the University of Toronto in November 2011; and that the membership will develop a constitution and by-laws.

Questions and concerns raised by attendees included:

  • CLA is reviewing its structure at the moment and trying to be more responsive. CLA has “networks” (replacing the “interest groups”) and was this framework considered as a forum to address the concerns of CAPAL?
  • What issues aren’t being addressed elsewhere? Concern was expressed that CAPAL has not articulated these.
  • It was asked whether CAUT is not doing what we need and are they not taking a leadership role? How are professional issues articulated as compared to labour issues?
  • It was acknowledged that CAUT is not easily infiltrated and that there exists the appeal of mentorship for newer librarians that CAPAL has articulated.
  • Is there not a danger in dividing our energies?
  • What about the CARL Librarians Research Institute? Is there a place for us there?

Members of the Steering Committee responded to these questions and concerns as follows:

  • There is a perceived need for scholarship and education issues as relates to academic librarians. There is no conference or forum for research and the rigor of real scholarship which CAPAL aspires to this. The mandate of CLA is too broad and institutional in focus.
  • With respect to the iSchools, there is an opportunity to influence and challenge the curricula.
  • While CAUT has filled a vacuum for activism relating to LAC, there is currently no effective forum to discuss and address other issues relating to academic librarianship, such as diversity. CAUT also has its limitations as all academic librarians are not members of CAUT. CAPAL will be open to all academic librarians, regardless of status or institutional affiliation.
  • CAPAL can play a role in the development of core principles and ethics for academic librarians in Canada.
  • The next steps are to incorporate as a non-profit, to develop a constitution, and set up a communication network so that members can contribute to the development of key processes, groups and documents.
  • The possibility of regional chapters has been raised.

The Open Forum was followed by the Membership Meeting which ran from 3:45 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. Issues raised during the Membership Meeting included:

  • The Steering Committee has been meeting regularly and will meet bi-weekly on Skype for the near future.
  • The Steering Committee is seeking members with skills in specific areas such as finance and IT.
  • The CAPAL website has been developed; Eventbrite is being used as the temporary platform for membership; and CAPAL is on Twitter and Facebook.
  • The membership is at 113 as of today. More representation from Eastern Canada is being sought.
  • There are sufficient funds to incorporate as a non-profit organization
  • Members were asked if they would like blogs/updates relating to issues affecting the academic librarian community. It was suggested that CAPAL articulate its vision in a positive way and leave labour issues to CAUT. With regards to the blog/updates, it was asked that CAPAL refrain from censorship and judgment.
  • It was requested that the CAPAL mission statement be positive and pro-active.
  • With respect to declared areas of interest, Scholarship and Education, Mentoring, and Professional Development are currently the most popular. It was suggested by a member of the Steering Committee that CAPAL needed to provide leadership in areas such as Diversity. The goal is to look for efficiencies in the declared areas of interest and collapse them into fewer categories. A number of people did not indicate areas of interest.  It was suggested that perhaps it was too early for people to declare, or alternatively that members were concerned about their individual time commitments.  The possibility of a poll of members to delve more deeply into areas of interest was raised.
  • With respect to scholarship, the development of a journal is a key goal. The possibility of CAPAL becoming a counterpart to ACRL was raised. Members indicated support for scholarship as an area of focus for CAPAL. Concern was expressed that library conferences tend to be professional and practical in focus, and a conference devoted to serious scholarship is desirable.
  • There was discussion about the use of the term “professional” in the name CAPAL. A member of the Steering Committee reported that investigation into the history of librarianship, associations in Canada, and the use of the term within collective agreement language, supported its inclusion in the name of the association. It was reaffirmed that CAPAL is interested in addressing professional issues as well as national issues.
  • Questions were raised about advocacy.  Is this where labour issues reside?  Members of the Steering Committee responded that labour issues fall within several interest areas.  It was also stressed that CAPAL would work collaboratively with other organizations like OCUFA and CAUT with respect to labour issues. CAUT and CACUL worked together on behalf of academic librarian issues in the past. CAPAL could serve as an effective voice in terms of support for difficulties going forward in light of recent events.
  • Bilingual website and communications are a priority and a member volunteered to assist with translation.

A Call to Support Dale Askey! Reply

CAPAL’s steering committee encourages all those who are concerned about the case of Dale Askey and Edwin Mellen Press Inc. to change their email signature files to include a symbolic show of support for Dale and academic freedom more generally.  The following suggested text includes links to further information and the petition.

Email signature text:

Version with embedded links:
I support Dale Askey.  I support academic freedom.
=> More info
=> Sign the petition

Version without embedded links:

I support Dale Askey.  I support academic freedom.
=> More info:
=> Petition:

Edwin Mellen Press update by CBC and others… Reply

Today the CBC addressed the Dale Askey lawsuit and includes statements from the publisher:

Full on-going accounts of the coverage of this case can be found on these two websites:  or

Unprecedented $3 million dollar lawsuit filed against McMaster librarian for blogpost 11

It’s rare to be sued for expressing your opinion on a blog but that’s exactly what seems to be happening to a librarian at McMaster University in Hamilton Ontario. In fact,librarians in both Canada and the US took to social media yesterday to discuss the rumour that Edwin Mellen Press <> with offices in the United States and the United Kingdom was about to file a statement of claim against the McMaster librarian.

Today, more details of the lawsuit have started to appear. Dale Askey, Associate University Librarian, Library and Learning Technologies
, at McMaster University Library, was served notice in June 2012 by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. The plaintiff, Edwin Mellen Press, is suing Askey and McMaster University for three million dollars for defamatory comments made about the publisher on one of Askey’s blogposts.

Copy of legal notice:
(includes a copy of defendant’s blogpost).

The Steering Committee of the Canadian Association of Professional Academic Librarians is gathering information about this lawsuit but find some of the early details very troubling. It is certainly unprecedented for an academic librarian in Canada to be sued for voicing his opinion on the matter of a publisher’s reputation. Further, it would seem that many other academics and librarians have expressed similar opinions.

For the record, CAPAL wants to affirm the right of academic librarians to voice their opinions about materials they collect, and this includes the publishers from whom these materials are purchased. CAPAL will be watching to see whether the suit has any merit but want to state emphatically that we believe this to be a threat to academic freedom not just at McMaster University but academia everywhere.

Petition to Sign

Academic Librarian blog (Princeton U). “Edwin Mellen Press Suing a Librarian?”
Shocking attack on academic freedom at McMaster

Dale Askey Blog,


“When Sellers and Buyers Disagree” see

Les Green page at McMaster
Chronicle Forum notes past history of Mellen Press:   and

Inside Higher Education, “It was, as such, my job to assess the quality of books, and I did so based on many years of experience in the field,” he said in an e-mail interview. “As budgets decrease, the necessity to be more discerning increases, yet libraries have reduced their qualified staff numbers over the years. As a qualified and experienced librarian, I was sharing a professional opinion for consumption by peers.” see

Guidelines for Librarians:

Librarians protect yourself on social media sites. “Blogging & the Law” (Freedom of speech & Limits)

Three New Members to CAPAL Steering Committee with Special Expertise! Reply

We are fortunate to welcome three new librarians to our steering committee after our CAPAL membership meeting on Jan. 31, 2013: Dr. Kathryn Rose from Memorial University in Newfoundland; Rev. Douglas J. Fox, B.A., MDiv., Th.M, M.L.S, a systems librarian at Victoria University in the University of Toronto; Juliya Borie, University of Toronto, who is fluent in French, Russian, Greek (reading, writing, speaking) with a working knowledge of German and Spanish. Our new members will be assisting with perspectives from the East Coast, IT assistance and creating a French CAPAL website.

Update on January 31, 2013 CAPAL Membership Meeting at OISE, Toronto Reply

Dear CAPAL members,

We had a constructive meeting on January 31, which began with an open forum (45 min) followed by a membership update, despite conflicts with sessions at the Super OLA Conference and the wintery blast that swept into Toronto on that day. After an initial welcome and a brief update on the origins of CAPAL, important discussions arose. Jane Schmidt from CLA kindly joined the meeting and asked some pertinent questions, for example, why not address these issues within CLA? As we discussed at the meeting, academic librarianship has distinct concerns that are unique to our profession and, which differ from those in corporate, public or other types of libraries. Academic librarians are members of post-secondary institutes which uphold the principles of academic freedom and the value of scholarship and research. Our members come from diverse backgrounds with a range of advanced degrees, in addition, to their professional, master’s degree in information studies. Our interests and concerns do differ, as do our professional responsibilities: scholarship, professional practice and service. When joining CAPAL, members selected their primary areas of interest and/or committees. The top three choices were scholarship in the profession, publication, communication and education, which, in turn, will be CAPAL’s priorities. We will shortly be undertaking a poll of our membership to confirm our priorities, beyond the basics of founding a national organization (legal, technical, constitution, etc.) to ensure that we focus on the most pertinent issues at the beginning.

The meeting concluded with a positive vision for the future. We had excellent feedback on our priorities and concluded with a clear sense of direction. We are surging forward and will provide further updates shortly. We also gained two new members after this meeting who have joined the steering committee, what we originally called the organizing group. Kathryn Rose from Memorial University from the east coast who will voice concerns from the east and Juliya Borie from the University of Toronto, who has volunteered to translate our website into French for our Quebec members. We must all remember that CAPAL remains an organic entity, a membership organization, that will change with contributions from the membership. If you have further questions about the meeting, please do write to any members of the steering committee or to the general CAPAL email,

CAPAL Meeting Today in Toronto – Open Forum for Non-Members followed by Membership Meeting Reply

Members of the CAPAL steering committee have organized an open forum  from 3:00 to 3:45 at the OISE auditorium for those interested in hearing more about the Canadian Association for Academic Librarians, the newly formed association. A membership meeting will follow from 3:45 to 5:30 to review the status and goals of CAPAL.  Address is 252 Bloor St W  Toronto, Ontario M5S 1V6. For those coming from the Metro Toronto Convention Centre take the University Subway north to St. George St. exit. Walk east on Bloor Street 1.5 blocks. OISE is on the north side of Bloor Street.

Lots of Suggestions, Questions and Positive Responses! Reply

Dear Colleagues,

We are very pleased by the numerous supportive responses, suggestions and questions raised in our community in response to the public announcement of CAPAL yesterday.  It shows there is a need and a concerted interest in moving forward with this association. Since yesterday afternoon we have had more than 500 visitors to this website.

We are planning to respond to your queries and suggestions as soon as we are able. Frequently asked questions will be answered and posted under the tab FAQ. Please be patient as we sort through your responses. Thank you for your support!

Welcome! 7

Dear Colleague,

This is the first step in the formation of a national non-governmental organization for the advocacy and support of professional academic librarians and academic librarianship in Canada: the Canadian Association of Professional Academic Librarians (CAPAL). This website marks the first in a series of steps required to build a strong, vocal and pro-active association that will uphold and promote the values unique to our profession.

We share many values and goals with librarian colleagues working in other sectors but we see this association focused specifically on the unique concerns of academic librarians and academic librarianship. To this end, we define professional academic librarians as those colleagues who work at, or aspire to work at, accredited post-secondary institutions with a master’s degree from a program accredited by the American Library Association (or from a program in a country with a formal accreditation process as identified by ALA’s Human Resource Development and Recruitment Office), who may or may not have additional advanced degrees.

The following guidelines and statements were prepared as a foundation from which this organization can grow: Mission Statement, CAPAL Terms of Reference, Advocacy and Academic Librarians: A Statement of Principles. We have identified committees that reflect the interests of our community and these are listed on the membership page. In the first year we will need to build and strengthen our infrastructure, working with our committees to identify and set priorities, and to begin to lay the groundwork for future plans.

The first business meeting is being planned for the end of January in Toronto. We hope that you will join us!

Members of the Organizing Committee.