Association Background

A History of the MAUT Librarians' Section and of the Association of McGill University Librarians

The Librarians' Section of the McGill Association of University Teachers (MAUT-LS) was established in 1996 as a successor to the Association of McGill University Librarians (AMUL), which was formed in 1971. During their respective years of operation, both AMUL and MAUT-LS have worked to advance the status and working conditions of librarians at McGill University. Many of their efforts have focused on the Regulations which govern librarian employment at the University. As these Regulations have evolved over time, AMUL and MAUT-LS have been active in discussing proposed changes to the Regulations with the Administration and have participated in drafting the text of these revisions for eventual submission to the University Senate. AMUL and MAUT-LS have also worked with the Office of the Dean (or Director) of Libraries over the years on various matters pertaining to the implementation and interpretation of the Regulations, and MAUT-LS continues to do so today.

Prior to 1971, job classifications for McGill librarians were haphazard. The McGill University Library Staff Association (which was founded in 1949 and included both librarians and paraprofessional staff) had worked since 1951 to draw up definitions of positions and descriptions of duties and qualifications, but with only mixed success. While some supervisors followed the MULSA standards to classify their staff, others used guidelines from the Canadian Library Association or relied on personal interviews with the Director of Libraries. In March 1969, a committee was therefore formed to conduct an organized job audit of professional librarian positions throughout the library system and to recommend ways to revise or replace the existing practices.

When AMUL was established in 1971, it set up task forces to review the following aspects of the working conditions for librarians at McGill: conditions of appointment; classification and promotion systems; salary scales; performance evaluation; grievance procedures; and participation in library governance. A report on the status and working conditions of professional librarians was subsequently presented to the Senate and the Board of Governors, which adopted it in January 1974 and accorded librarians academic status as a distinct group within the academic sector.

In the years that followed, AMUL worked to implement the new Regulations governing librarians by preparing documents on such matters as criteria for appointment reviews, the composition of the Appointments Committee, and criteria for eligibility for Senior Professional Appointments (as tenure for librarians was initially called). AMUL was also responsible for planning and discussions relating to salaries. Prior to about 1980, the salary scales and annual salary increases for librarians were discussed between AMUL and the Director of Libraries. As University salary policy became more formalized, it became clear that this arrangement needed to change. The membership of the Academic Salary Policy Sub-Committee was increased by adding the Director of Libraries (on the "University" side of the table) and a librarian who was appointed by (and was a member of) the MAUT side. This arrangement continued until 2009, when the composition of the Academic Salary Policy Sub-Committee was altered to remove both the Director of Libraries and the librarian representative. Other issues which AMUL addressed over the years have included: the implementation in 1979 of a faculty-based personal rank structure for librarians to replace the former position classification system; the calculation of credit for earlier job experience; the situation of part-time librarians; and the granting of sabbatical leave to librarians.

Since academic status was conferred on librarians in 1974, AMUL and the MAUT Librarians' Section have worked with the Administration on drafting several major revisions of the Regulations. One of these revisions, adopted in 1989, combined the hitherto separate processes for granting tenure and for promotion to the rank of Associate Librarian. This revision also abolished the rank of Junior Librarian, and replaced the phrase "Senior Professional Appointment" with the term "tenure." From 1997 to 2000, MAUT-LS was involved in lengthy discussions to further revise the Regulations governing librarians in order to bring them more closely into line with those governing faculty members, as per the recommendations of the University Appeals Committee. These revisions were adopted by Senate in December 2000. Beginning in 2002, following a proposal by the Administration to replace tenure for librarians with secured employment and to replace sabbatical leaves for librarians with professional development leaves, MAUT-LS was involved in another protracted round of talks with the Administration concerning the Regulations. These discussions ultimately resulted in two packages of revisions being brought to Senate: an interim set of revisions to the tenure component of the Regulations (adopted by Senate in May 2006), and a more general set of revisions (adopted by Senate in May 2007) which, among other things, abolished the non-tenure-track designation "Library Professional" and enabled librarians who had been appointed with that designation to switch to a tenure-track appointment if they so wished.

More recently, following the establishment in May 2008 of an Ad Hoc Investigatory Committee by the Canadian Association of University Teachers to look into issues pertaining to the academic freedom and other academic staff rights of McGill librarians, MAUT-LS drew up a list of concerns and undertook to discuss with the Administration ways of addressing these issues. This discussion process, lasting from the spring of 2010 to the fall of 2012, resolved most of the concerns identified by MAUT-LS and laid the groundwork for dealing with the remaining issues. In view of this progress, CAUT Council voted in November 2012 to discontinue the possibility of censure of McGill University, which had been under consideration by CAUT since April 2010.

As the situation of librarians at McGill has evolved over the decades, the structure of their association has likewise changed. In 1990, for example, AMUL amended its constitution to extend membership eligibility to part-time librarians in order to better represent staff who were designated as sessional librarians. As academics, librarians became eligible for membership in the McGill Association of University Teachers in 1974; many opted for membership in both MAUT and AMUL, and the two organizations worked together closely over the years.

This cooperation was taken to a new level in 1996, when the Executives of the two associations discussed merging AMUL into MAUT to form the MAUT Librarians' Section. Under this arrangement, AMUL's existing structures -- such as its committees -- became a formal part of MAUT, and the Chair of the new Librarians' Section was given an ex-officio seat on MAUT Council (as opposed to the invited seat traditionally offered to the President of AMUL). The merger proposal was approved by both organizations, in the form of a major amendment to the MAUT Constitution, and went into effect on June 1, 1996. A package of amendments to the MAUT Constitution's Bylaw Governing the Librarian's Section was subsequently adopted by MAUT Council in May 2012 and by the MAUT-LS membership in August 2012. The most substantive of these amendments provided for the election of most of the members of the MAUT-LS Professional Issues Committee (whose members had all been hitherto appointed) and clarified various details pertaining to the role and the operating procedures of the Committee (such as the method for designating its Chair). Representatives of the MAUT Executive customarily attend the General Meetings of MAUT-LS, which are normally held once in the fall and once in the spring. Similarly, the MAUT-LS Chair presents a report on the Librarians' Section at MAUT's fall and spring General Meetings.

Both MAUT-LS and MAUT are involved in various aspects of University governance, and in some cases this involvement has been on a joint basis. In late 2010, for example, MAUT-LS and MAUT appointed one representative each to the Working Group on Vacation Policy for Librarians (whose report led to the adoption of a new vacation policy for librarians in April 2011) and one representative each to the Ad Hoc Committee on a Library Council (whose report led to the establishment of Library Council in May 2011). MAUT has a long tradition of organizing pre-Senate caucus meetings, which are attended by elected librarian Senators, and MAUT has for a number of years been distributing to its mailing list the Senate summary reports which the librarian Senators prepare after each Senate meeting.

Written by Marc Richard, October 28, 2002
Revised by Karen Jensen, August 10, 2007
Revised by Marc Richard, January 30, 2013