FUNSCAD Letter in Solidarity with OCAD Librarians

Dear President Ana Serrano,

The Faculty Union Executive of NSCAD University is shocked and bewildered by the decision made by OCAD University to permanently layoff four senior librarians and to eliminate two vacant positions in an abrupt move towards completely restructuring the staffing model of the Library. The librarians, all members of OPSEU Local 576-Unit 1 and heads of service areas, are Marta Chudolinska (Learning Zone Librarian), Alex Homanchuk (Head of E-Resources & E-Learning Support), Daniel Payne (Head of Reference & Instructional Services), and Victoria Sigurdson (Head of Visual Resources & Special Collections which includes the University Archives). Shared among those librarians is a wealth of knowledge, expertise and responsibility. This knowledge has served to steward the collections and archives of OCAD University and has supported the teaching, study, creative output and research of students, faculty and the wider community of OCAD University’s alumni and scholars.

This decision was made apparently without any consultation or justification. As more details arise, no one appears to have known that this was being planned. From a statement released by the OCAD Faculty Association, recently retired OCAD University Librarian Jill Patrick states,

“The precipitative loss of so much expertise, at one time, represents a significant risk for the University and there will be negative consequences for those who have come to rely on the wide range of services that these four librarians offer.”

FUNSCAD urges OCAD University to immediately reinstate the Librarians to their positions, and recommends an inclusive participatory model of assessing and making any changes to the staffing model, with evidence-based adaptations. Libraries are essential to the functions of a university, to support teaching and research, and to provide community spaces for students. The expertise of those whose jobs have been eliminated is an asset and this loss will have disruptive consequences to the support and services offered by the Library, and a negative impact on OCAD’s institutional memory. This kind of abrupt and unsupported tactic is damaging to the morale of OCAD University’s faculty, staff and students. It would be so at any time, but at this time, when there is so much disconnection and suffering both in our university communities and in society as a whole, it is unaccountably callous and cruel.

Signed on behalf of the FUNSCAD Executive,

Rebecca Young
Director of Library Services, NSCAD University
Secretary, FUNSCAD Executive