The Need for Collegial Space in Academic Libraries
As a profession, librarianship is too focused on how we do it, rather than why we do it. That is the conclusion Emily Ford draws in her paper as she encourages librarians to move from “having a practice of librarianship to a praxis of librarianship.” Praxis is theory plus practice. As Ford explains, praxis is about being professionally engaged, about being purposeful in our decisions, and about thinking critically. On an individual level, the process of writing a philosophy of professional practice statement offers an opportunity to examine and reflect upon the philosophical underpinnings that guide one’s professional approach. However, collectively, and within the scope of our daily work, librarians have little opportunity to engage in meaningful, critical discourse regarding the development of library services, resources, and organizational purpose.
The issue is lack of a collegial space. Library councils are collegial bodies paralleling that of faculty councils. The almost complete lack of publicly available documentation such as terms of reference outlining councils’ scope, accountability, and process underlines their precarious and shadowed existence. This lack of transparency is particularly disconcerting for publicly mandated and funded institutions. CAPAL encourages academic libraries to make their library council documents publicly available and supports the formation of councils where they do not exist. Collegial spaces are foundational to the development and practice of critical, disciplinary discourse. As professionals and academics, it is our responsibility not only to focus on the how, but also to reflect upon and question the why.
CAPAL Advocacy Committee
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