Monthly Archives: January 2016

The CLA is gone….

As of yesterday, Jan 27th, 2016 the Canadian Library Association (CLA) is no more. This comes at a time when many people in the Canadian Library landscape had been repeatedly questioning the relevance of the organization. I am not completely unaffected by it’s passing. I served in a student group that was an extension of the organization and it will be missed. Today is not a time for mourning; it is a time for renewal.

For many years the CLA has served as the voice of libraries across the country. It was imagined to be the Canadian equivalent to the American Library Association. This was never truly realized. The Canadian Library association faced many criticisms over the years, some warranted and some unwarranted, these criticisms and many shortcomings were what lead to its demise.

The CLA as a National voice

The CLA was envisioned to be a National voice for libraries and its core members: Library workers. It never was a national voice for its members and faltered in meeting up to those expectations. It routinely sided with libraries in dispute with their workers and never became the Canadian vision of National voice of Canada that it could have been.

The CLA represented Libraries but not Librarians

The CLA was accused repeatedly of representing the interests of libraries, but not those who worked in libraries. This was disheartening to many, as the organization alienated itself from the core of its membership. The people that were most likely to join a national library association were those who worked in the libraries. With the CLA clearly not representing the work force, their numbers dwindled as their core supporters found other more regional organizations that would support them.

The CLA could not compete with Provincial Library associations

Many people who worked in libraries were already part of smaller organizations that were provincial or regionally centralized. These organizations were more accepting of representing the needs of their library workforce. By doing this they overshadowed the CLA and practically made it obsolete.

The Future – Federation of Library Associations in Canada (CLA, web)

A new proposal is in the works, and it has promise. the Regional and Provincial organizations have gained strength; it has been proposed that a Federation of Library Associations replace the ailing CLA. Instead of having a separate organization oversee the nations information needs, a union of the regional and provincial organizations will help to ensure Canadian interests in Library and information field are met. This will work only if all regions of Canada are represented. The proposal suggests regional members that join will have a voice. This is a great idea, but what happens if one group decides to strike it on their own? They will not have a national voice, and neither will Canada, as the Nation as a whole has to be fully represented….or this new Federation may falter before it gets off the starting line.

I suggest that all members of the Canadian Library landscape petition your local associations to join the federation and help build a strong National Library Federation that we can be proud of and that is representative of all of Canada. This is not the end, but the beginning of a new and exciting future.




The Wage gap? – Library edition

There are many people who still believe in the wage gap. That women make less money than men doing the same work. While this may be true on a general level, I would like to look at it in libraries and on a more specific level.

In libraries the wage gap or low income of library workers/librarians is not because you are a woman or I am a man. It is caused by past ideas on male and female roles. It has nothing to do with you or me. A library job was once considered clerical work, which included librarianship. Library jobs were paid out as clerical work to women who were thought to be better suited to the job. Unfortunately in the 21st century the increase in pay for library workers has not gone up exponentially to make up for the short sightedness and shortcomings of past judgements.

So the wage gap has nothing to do with your sex, it has to do with what the wage for our job was 50 years ago. Because Librarianship, like secretaries and other professions, were considered lady like the wage did not go up for men either. I as a man make the same starting wage as the previous female librarian who came before me. If the wage gap were true, I would be making significantly more because I am a man, but this isn’t true.

The wage gap is a generality and there are many factors that go into creating that stat: Longer hours, jobs that women are likely to take or are still considered feminine: like librarianship. “Career choice is another factor. Research in 2013 by Anthony Carnevale, a Georgetown University economist, shows that women flock to college majors that lead to lower-paying careers.[Wallstreet Journal, 2015].

The low paying jobs in librarianship are more to do with economics than gender. If people want to complain about the pay they receive as a library worker they should really consider the situation they and their employer are in, instead of crying wolf to the overall statistic slated under “wage gap”. Be proactive instead of complaining about a large number you can’t control. Change starts at the local level…so maybe start with what is right in front of you. I know I will.



Chow, Lisa. “Why Women (Like Me) Choose Lower-Paying Jobs”, Sept 11, 201

Wall Street Journal,, Sept 30, 2015