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Final Proposal for the Creation of the Canadian Federation of Library Associations (CFLA)

Final Proposal for the Creation of the Canadian Federation of Library Associations (CFLA)

December 19, 2015

On Friday, December 18, 2015, the Canadian Library Association released the final proposal for the creation of the Canadian Federation of Library Associations (CFLA).

The document expands on the proposal published on October 2, 2015 and includes a new FAQ section (reproduced below), additional notes in response to the feedback received during the consultation period in October/November, and next steps, including the dissolution of the Canadian Library Association.

The final proposal from the Future Federation Working Group (previously referred to as the Future CLA Working Group) can be found on the CLA website: has prepared a document that provides a side-by-side view of the October 2, 2015 and December 18, 2015 versions of the proposal for a new federation of library associations in Canada.

The document does not include the following text:

  • October 2, 2015 version
    • Appendix A1: Stakeholder Meeting Attendees
  • December 18, 2015 version
    • Appendix B: Context and Background (Part II in the October 2 version)
    • Appendix C: Stakeholder Meeting Attendees
    • Appendix D: Known Library Associations in Canada

Share your thoughts about the proposal in the comments section below.

Frequently Asked Questions

(Appendix A in the proposal document)

Q1. How will individuals have a voice in the proposed federation if they cannot be members directly?

There are two answers to this question.

  1. Individuals who are members of member associations will be engaged in a variety of activities related to the proposed federation: working on committees and participating in working groups to name a couple options. An individual’s voice can be heard when they step up to volunteer for such tasks.
  2. In terms of member voting in the proposed federation, member associations – such as the provincial associations or the institutional associations – take the satisfaction of their own membership very seriously. If you are a member of an association that is a member of the proposed federation and you do not think your association is hearing your voice (keeping in mind that “hearing” and “agreeing” are not always the same thing), then you would need to let the association in which you are a member know your concerns so they can address them.

Q2. How can people working in special libraries or as consultants participate in the proposed federation?

In order to participate in the work and activities of the proposed federation, individuals must be a member of a member association. The clearest way to do this would be to join an association that is a member of the proposed association, such as the association in your province (e.g., OLA or BCLA), provided it is a member.

Q3. How will small rural and remote public libraries have a voice in the proposed federation?

The clearest path for this is either through the provincial or regional association if they accept institutional memberships (e.g., British Columbia Library Association, Manitoba Library Association) or through another association that represents public libraries specifically and has rural and remote members (e.g., Association of BC Public Library Directors, Federation of Ontario Public Libraries).

Q4. What happens in provinces where there is more than one association?

All associations are welcome to join the proposed federation and have voting rights as members. Their members, in turn, have the right to participate in activities of the proposed Federation, including on policy development committees, and other task forces or working groups.

In terms of board composition in relation to regional directors, the proposal recommends that the regional representatives must be a part of the leadership team of an association that represents more than one sector. This is a caveat intended to ensure the broadest potential representation of libraries in that area. Most provinces have more than one association: in this case, the multi-sector association has an opportunity to work collaboratively with the other associations to ensure broadest possible representation from their province.

Please also recall that the direction setting for the organization is informed by the membership, much in the same way that we in libraries set our priorities based on the will, interests, and needs of our communities.

Q5. How will small associations that do not have significant funds belong and how will they be engaged when in a group with larger associations?

As noted in the proposal, there is a suggested minimum fee of $300. The reality is that the work of the proposed federation would undertake costs money and so there must be funding to pay for it. If an organization – no matter how small – wants a voice in setting priorities, wants to participate in dialogue, and wants to have a say in how the work is done and the final positions taken/adopted, then they need to contribute funds to the efforts. In the scheme of the work of the proposed Federation, $300 is a small amount, especially when considering some member associations will be paying $20,000 and over. Certainly, some associations will have to consider additional member levies or increasing their membership fees. These are decisions each and every association will have to make.

Small associations have voting rights in member votes and also have the right to participate as equals in any committees, task groups, or other structures that the board of the proposed federation may establish.

Q6. Will sector-specific associations be engaged and have influence when in the room with larger associations.

Absolutely. Sector specific associations are encouraged and welcome to join the federation. In fact, their unique perspective and expertise will be valuable in exploring many topics. As noted above in response to other questions, all member associations have voting rights on member votes and also have the right to participate as equals in any committees, task groups, or other structures that the board of the proposed federation may establish.

Q7. How is the proposed federation going to represent each unique voice in the library community?

The proposed federation cannot, nor would it, have the responsibility to speak for the whole library community or to represent each unique perspective and voice. That’s an impossible expectation of any association. The proposed federation will represent the national and international priorities and interests of its members as decided through various member engagement channels such as committees, working groups, and membership votes.

Q8. Will the proposed federation defend and uphold the value of our professional roles such as Librarians, Library Technicians, and Teacher Librarians?

The Federation’s proposed role is to:

  • Advance library excellence in Canada.
  • Champion library values and the value of libraries.
  • Influence national and international public policy impacting libraries and their communities.

The Federation will participate and/or lead in the development of national standards and credentialing of library programs, where appropriate. The Federation could be expected to issue statements on the role of librarians and information workers when there is a national need for such a statement.

Q9. How will the proposed federation represent support staff?

The focus of the proposed federation is national and international policy and national and international standards and other similar instruments. The discussion of these topics is not the purview of one type of library worker alone. Support staff from all roles will be welcome to participate in discussion of these issues as well as the other work of the proposed federation through their membership in member associations. Across the country, there are many associations that welcome support staff engagement, such as provincial associations or role specific associations.

There has been some comment that library support staff do not always feel engaged in their provincial associations. It will be important for such provincial association members to take the initiative to connect with their provincial library associations to address this local issue as local engagement is the fist level of the scaffold to national engagement.

Q10. What will happen to CLA’s existing networks and committees?

CLA’s committees and networks have provided important contributions to CLA and the library community over the years. CLA Executive Council and the Future Federation Working group members have expressed their deep appreciation for these groups – for the expertise they have brought to form statements on important issues nationally and internationally and for the networking and continuing education opportunities they have provided to their members and the library community at large.

The board of the proposed federation will need to determine its own structure: the committees, working groups, and other mechanisms for discussion and action on various policy topics. We hope that will happen very quickly and that the expertise of the members of CLA’s committees and networks will be recognized as the Federation Board populates their committees from amongst the proposed federation’s member associations.

Q11. Will there be mechanism that enables people across the country who are interested in similar issues to connect with each other?

In addition to the proposed purpose, the proposal recommends the following filters for the new federation in choosing what to invest staff time, money, and effort in:

  • Is it a national and/or international issue for libraries?
  • Does it have a public policy implication?
  • Is there a need for the proposed federation to engage on this issue?
  • Is this issue best addressed by a unified national voice or is it better advanced by one or more of the proposed federation member associations?

There will need to be opportunities for member association members to network to discuss national and international policy and other issues that fit within the scope of the Federation in order to advance the work of the Federation. What those networking vehicles might be will need to be clarified through the start-up phase of the Federation.

Q12. How does the proposed Federation impact or relate to The Partnership?

The Partnership is a national network of provincial and territorial library associations that collaborates to develop services and programs for members of their respective associations. The Partnership is an important collaboration vehicle for the provincial associations. This proposal for the Federation clearly defines a scope that is different than The Partnership. The Working Group recommends that the Federation seek to redirect any continuing education activities through The Partnership, which has done an excellent job as a platform for national professional development. Members of The Partnership were involved in the Working Group and in the Stakeholder meetings, so we are confident that this proposal presents a unique venture

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