CAPAL is a national membership association representing the interests of professional academic librarians in relation to the areas of education, standards, professional practice, ethics, and core principles. CAPAL differs from other library associations in that it is an advocacy group focused on the individual and the profession. Like other academic associations, we aim to work collaboratively with local, provincial and national organizations currently working on behalf of librarians and libraries.

CAPAL has evolved in response to the challenges academic librarians have faced in recent years. A pivotal catalyst for forming this association was the national response organizers received to the symposium “Academic Librarianship: A Crisis or Opportunity” held at the University of Toronto on November 18, 2011. The response was overwhelming and the message clear: the concerns of academic librarians were not being addressed.

A core working group began to review the terrain and explore what would be required to create an association responsive to and concerned with issues relevant to academic librarians. Discussions continued through 2012, with the core group gradually expanding to include other participants across Canada. The article “Academic Librarianship: A Crisis or an Opportunity” by Grandfield, Kandiuk, and Sonne de Torrens (2011) published in the Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research reviews the developments from the symposium.


1.       Who can be a member of CAPAL?

Anyone can be a member of CAPAL. The focus of CAPAL as a professional association may not, however, appeal to everyone. The focus of CAPAL is on the profession of academic librarianship, the specialized interests of librarians working in post-secondary institutions (colleges, research institutes and universities).

2.       Why do we need another association for librarians in Canada?

The reason is simple. There is no existing association for the profession of academic librarianship in Canada.

3.       What is the difference between CAPAL and CAUT?

There is more than one way to support a profession.  The differences between CAPAL and the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) are much like the differences between the Association of Canadian Archivists and CAUT, or the Canadian Historical Association and CAUT, or the Canadian Mathematical Association and CAUT. Members of these associations are also represented by CAUT. Professional associations represent the specific interests of their members in their respective professions.

CAPAL is focused on professional issues. While it is prepared to take a position on labour issues as necessary, CAPAL is not solely or centrally concerned with addressing such issues at post-secondary institutions or undertaking litigation issues concerning the terms and conditions of employment of our members as CAUT currently does. CAUT states “We fight for fair working conditions, compensation and benefits that foster quality teaching and innovative research. CAUT works for collegial institutional governance that is publicly accountable and gives the academic community its proper voice.”

The committees listed on the CAPAL website serve to demonstrate the ways in which CAPAL differs from CAUT. These areas of interest are NOT within the mandate of CAUT. Several members of CAPAL’s Organizing Committee (and one of CAPAL’s advisors) have extensive union experience and fully appreciate the role that CAUT plays in supporting academic librarians.

CAPAL envisions working with associations like CAUT, as well as other associations, to reinforce and support the academic status of our colleagues at post-secondary institutions through initiatives relating to education, scholarship and mentoring. In fact, it is in the interest of CAPAL members to reinforce and develop a close relationship with CAUT and other associations. By addressing different areas, we can collectively become a strong voice.

CAPAL is intended to be a membership driven organization. In the upcoming months we will be working with its members to further clarify and articulate the mission and purpose of the association.

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