Interest in CAPAL has prompted numerous questions, which we will post and respond to as time permits. Thank you for your inquiries.

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). For further information please see the Mission Statement and the Terms of Reference for CAPAL.

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.

At the last CAUT conference in November 2012, there was general agreement that there was a need for an association dedicated to the profession of academic librarianship and to represent the interests of academic librarians. This same consensus was reached at the end of the Symposium, “Academic Librarianship: A Crisis or Opportunity,” held at the University of Toronto on November 18, 2011. In recent years, there has been a growing concern in our community that the interests of our profession are not being addressed by current associations. The formation of CAPAL has arisen out of these concerns

3.     Is CAPAL interested in copyright issues?

In the coming months, members of CAPAL will shape and determine the priorities for our community. Any issue that engages our colleagues within the profession is open for discussion and consideration.

4.       What is the difference between CAPAL and CAUT?

There is more than one way to support a profession.  The differences between CAPAL and 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.” (CAUT, url: http://www.caut.ca/pages.asp?page=6 Dec. 19, 2012)

The committees listed on the CAPAL website (Advocacy, Communications & Publications, Diversity & Equity, Education & Training, Mentoring, Professional Development and Scholarship) 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.

5.       What is the difference between CLA and CAPAL?

The Canadian Library Association “champions” libraries but is not focussed on the profession of librarianship. As their mission statement says, “We champion library values and the value of libraries.” (http://www.cla.ca/Content/NavigationMenu/AboutCLA/MissonValuesampOperatingPrinciples/default.htm Dec. 19, 2012). CLA includes the interests of all libraries, public, private and educational. This differs from the focus of CAPAL.  CAPAL is concerned with the ‘profession’ of librarianship and,  ‘academic librarianship’ in particular.

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  1. Michael McArthur
    2013/01/17 @ 8:48 am

    I’m curious as to why you focused on academia? Why leave out our colleagues toiling away in public library systems and the corporate world?


  2. Lenard Lawless
    2013/01/18 @ 1:51 pm

    While I do support the creation of a Canadian association for academic librarians (in fact, I’ve already got my membership here!), I’m wondering if it might be good to be under the CLA umbrella. The ACRL is a Division of ALA and is very well situated to provide something very similar to what CAPAL intends.

    I know nothing about CLA governance, so I don’t know if there is any capacity for CAPAL becoming something akin to a Division, but I thought it would be good to examine.


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