Academic Librarianship in Canada

Post-COVID Perspectives in a Neoliberal Era

Editors: Jessica E. Shiers, Harriet M. Sonne de Torrens, Joanna Szurmak, and Meaghan Valant

Price: TBD

Expected: Spring 2024

ISBN: 978-1-63400-169-4

This edited collection of seven critical essays with an introduction, Academic Librarianship in Canada: Post-COVID Perspectives in a Neoliberal Era, is focused on the changing dynamics of academic librarianship through the lens of Canadian professionals responding to the corporatization of their scholarly workplaces and the erosion of their communities of practice. The contributors’ underlying concern is the transformation of academic libraries from sites of collegial scholarly activity into hierarchically led operations driven by values and priorities alien to the academia. Consequently, all contributions in this volume reflect on various aspects of this neoliberal turn shaping the political economy of knowledge production and dissemination of information, as well as changes in academic teaching, funding, institutional relationships, and the publishing industry. The unifying core of this volume is the fundamental role of professional academic librarianship in an increasingly techno-global, post-pandemic environment. 

Essays in this collection examine the tensions between equity of access and subject representation in electronic and print collections, de-professionalization, the ongoing persistence of gender stereotyping of academic librarianship by librarians’ leading professional associations, the lack of recognition for the professional teaching by academic librarians, and the recent, destructive trends in Canada to re-structure academic libraries. Authors from the Ontario College of Art & Design University, MacEwen University, University of Ottawa, University of Toronto, Winnipeg University, and York University have contributed to this collection. Each contribution underscores the pivotal role of academic librarians in the preservation of academic and collegial values in the increasingly neoliberal institutions of higher learning in Canada.

Jessica E. Shiers is a Research Services and Science Liaison Librarian at the University of Toronto Mississauga. She has an MLIS from Wayne State University and is currently a PhD Candidate at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.  Her doctoral research is focused on academic supports for students from low socioeconomic backgrounds.  She has diverse research interests and outside of academic librarianship has also co-authored a number of papers focused on patient care within occupational therapy. 

Harriet M. Sonne de Torrens is an appointed academic librarian and medievalist at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) in the UTM Library and Department of Visual Studies, and an Associate Scholar with the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto. She has an MISt and MA from the University of Toronto, a Ph.D. from the University of Copenhagen and a Licentiate in Mediaeval Studies from the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies at the University of Toronto. In 2004 her Ph.D. dissertation was awarded the Leonard F. Boyle Dissertation Prize by the Canadian Society of Medievalists. She is a founding member of the Canadian Association of Professional Academic Librarians (CAPAL) launched in 2012. In 2015 she was awarded the Academic Librarian Award, Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations and in 2021 Awarded the CAUT Academic Librarians’ and Archivists’ Distinguished Service Award. Her scholarship spans two distinct areas, medieval studies and the profession of academic librarianship and includes the following. She was co-editor in 2013 of the book,  Visual Culture of Baptism in the Middle Ages: Essays on Medieval Fonts, Settings and Beliefs (Ashgate 2013), author of  “Academic Librarianship: The Quest for Rights and Recognition at the University of TorontoIn Solidarity : Academic Librarian Labour Activism and Union Participation in Canada (Sacramento, CA: Library Juice Press, 2014), pp. 81-106, 314-324 and “Academic Freedom and Librarians’ Research and Scholarship in Canadian Universities” in Canadian University Libraries” College & Research Libraries (January 2018). She is co-director of the Baptisteria Sacra Index, a digit research project, see https://bsi.dhn.utoronto.ca/ and the author of Crusader Rhetoric and the Infancy Cycles on Medieval Baptismal Fonts in the Baltic Region (Brepols, forthcoming). For other publications see https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0840-9877.

Joanna Szurmak is Interim Associate Librarian, Library & Learning Services, and Head, Instruction Services, at the University of Toronto Mississauga Library where she has worked since 2007. Szurmak is a PhD candidate in the Science and Technology Studies program at York University in Toronto and has earned two Master’s degrees (Applied Science in Electrical Engineering in 1998; Information Studies in 2000) from the University of Toronto. She has worked in research labs, the telecommunications industry, and academic libraries in the United States and Canada. While Szurmak was seconded to build instruction capacity among academic librarians at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation (CTSI), her research in librarianship now focuses on the use of narrative techniques in academic library instruction. Szurmak is the co-author of the 2018-19 Donner Prize short-listed book Population Bombed! Exploding the Link Between Overpopulation and Climate Change. She has written a dozen refereed articles and several policy essays and columns on academic librarianship, semiconductor physics, history of environmental thought, the urban theorist Jane Jacobs and Nobel prize-winning economist Elinor Ostrom. For a list of publications see http://sites.utm.utoronto.ca/szurmak/content/joanna-szurmak

Meaghan Valant is a Liaison Librarian with the Sociology and Political Science departments at the University of Toronto Mississauga. She completed her Master of Arts in Sociology at McMaster University in 2011 and her Master of Information, Library and Information Science, at the University of Toronto in 2015. Meaghan has presented at various conferences on topics related to fake news, information literacy, and library assessment programs.