Library Councils and Governance in Canadian University Libraries: A Critical Review

Eva Revitt, Sean Luyk


Despite the nearly 40-year history of library councils in Canadian academic libraries, scholarly literature regarding library governance and decision-making processes within the context of Canadian university libraries is almost non-existent. Nevertheless, there is evidence of a general disenfranchisement of librarians from significant decisions affecting library operations, resources, services, and the appointment and evaluation of senior administrative positions. Furthermore, it is evident that library councils in Canadian academic libraries, where they do exist, function primarily as information-sharing forums rather than as the collegial decision-making bodies they were originally intended to be. Through a close examination of the CAUT Bulletin, this paper traces the development of library councils in Canadian academic libraries. Within the framework of institutional theory and drawing from librarianship, management, and educational administration literature, the paper proceeds to critically discuss systematic barriers to collegial governance in academic libraries. Historical and anecdotal evidence suggests that administrative resistance is a continued and key obstacle to the democratization of decision-making processes in Canadian academic libraries.


library councils; library governance; institutional theory; academic librarians; academic libraries


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Copyright (c) 2016 Eva Revitt, Sean Luyk CC BY-NC-ND

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