McMastergate in chronological order, or, Do libraries need librarians? (Updated!)

So, here's the story. A week or so ago, McMaster University Librarian Jeff Trzeciak gave an invited presentation at Penn State, tasked by the organizers to be controversial.

To say the least, he succeeded. Perhaps the most controversial idea in the presentation was that he would basically no longer hire librarians for his organization, only subject PhDs and IT specialists.

As you can imagine, the library blogosphere and Friendfeedosphere has had a field day with this one.

You can see the slide in question here and get a bit of a background on the situation of librarians at McMaster here.

What follows is a chronological list of all the relevant posts I've been able to find.

There's a pretty lively debate on The Future of Librarianship going on in this Google Doc. Join in!

As usual, if you know of any relevant posts or other online documents that I've missed, please let me know in the comments or at jdupuis at yorku dot ca.

I'm still ruminating about my own response to this and will probably get something up in the not-too-distant future.

(And yes, this is somewhat related to that Future of Academic Libraries conference mita and I wrote about recently.)

Update 2011.04.15: Added a few new posts from April 14 & 15.
Update 2011.04.16: Added a couple of new posts from April 15 & 16 and a link to the Google Docs debate.
Update 2011.04.19: Added a couple of new posts up to April 19 & reposted with that date. I've also backloaded some posts on the Future of Academic Libraries Symposium which I think is related enough to include here.
Update 2011.04.20: Added another item from April 19.
Update 2011.04.21: Added a couple from April 20.
Update 2011.04.24: Added a couple covering up to April 24. I've also expanded the topic to include some posts on online civility that grew out of this and other controversies.
Update 2011.04.28: Added a couple up to April 28.
Update 2011.05.16: Added a couple up to May 16, as the McMaster conference approaches. Also added a straggler from April 21.
Update 2011.05.17: Added a few more from May 15-17. Also, reposted to today's date for the McMaster symposium.
Update 2011.05.20: Added a few more up to May 20.
Update 2011.06.01: Added a few more up to May 27 and a few earlier stragglers.
Update 2011.07.07: Added a few more up to July 5 and a few earlier stragglers.
Update 2011.12.14: Added a few more up to December 14, including a link to another link dump post on the The Academic Librarianship -- A Crisis or an Opportunity? symposium. I may copy those symposium-related posts here at some point.
Update 2012.02.29: Brought up to date with the announcement that Jeff Trzeciak is leaving McMaster.


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not sarcasm: I love how the majority of your blog posts are thoroughly researched, catalogued references to a bunch of material related to the subject at hand with a minimum of commentary. Really keeps the theme and feel of the blog in line with it's name.

By Herp N. Derpington (not verified) on 14 Apr 2011 #permalink

Thanks, Herp. I appreciate the kind words.

It's interesting, though, to think about how my blogging praxis shifts and changes over the years. Over the course of the last 8.5 years there certainly has been a lot of different modes of blogging. There have been periods where I've been short post oriented, long essay oriented, whatever.

In the last year, for some reason, the curated list of posts related to some sort of topic seems to be something that's worked for me. Partly this is because I had an extraordinarily busy fall term and that's what I had energy for. Partly because it's just something that I like doing.

.: Thanks for compiling the relevant posts, John, well done.

By Randy Reichardt (not verified) on 15 Apr 2011 #permalink

Discussion happening on this Google Doc, as well. It might appear a bit unwieldy to follow, but anyone is welcome to write their comments in (indicating a name or "new comment from anonymous" near one's comments makes it easier for us all to navigate what's new). Revision history can also shed some light on the newest comments. Try searching for a keyword you expect to be in the discussion, like "PhD," or "MLIS," "union," "curriculum" etc. Additionally, there are guiding questions, quotes to respond to, and a list of additional issues that have helped to organize the discussion.

Also, if anyone is *really* concerned about not having their name attached to a comment, do not edit the document while signed in to a Google Account that is attached to your name or trackable Google ID.

Thank you to everyone contributing to the discussions on all these posts!

Thanks for the contributions, everyone. I'm happy to add things as they are published.

Have to say I'm a little concerned about the wording of the Trzeciak as "McMastergate." To keep things in perspective, this is debate on someone's vision for libraries -- you can even call it a kerfuffle. But it is not a scandal by any means, and certainly not one that involves any illegalities (the way Watergate did).

I realize the word is intended as a bit of a parody etc., but I'm not sure that I would appreciate having the decisions I make being made to appear scandalous when they are not(really).

.: John - this is simply an outstanding example of gathering together related links and commentary on a topic and indexing it in one place for all to see. Totally brilliant.

By Randy Reichardt (not verified) on 21 Apr 2011 #permalink

Thanks, Randy.

Ryan, I see your point. On the other hand, I'm not sure anyone really associates "-gate" with Richard Nixon so much anymore. It certainly wasn't my intention to put this on the same scale as Watergate.

I think Iris Jastram's post places my naming decision in the proper context.

I sincerely hope that using the shortcut "McMastergate" didn't detract from the seriousness of my commentary or of anyone who I linked to.

Hi! Thanks for posting this. I plan to propose a session on this topic at the upcoming THATCamp the first weekend of June, and this reading list will be invaluable. Also, I am the owner of the GDoc included here, and plan to dig through it and sort out my own response post in the near future.


Micah V

I'm starting to wonder if we need a symposium about whether librarians need libraries.

By Lisa Sloniowski (not verified) on 17 May 2011 #permalink

Hi Micah, You're welcome. Please let me know when the post comes out so I can include it. I have a feeling this list hasn't stopped growing.

Hi! Thanks for posting this. I plan to propose a session on this topic at the upcoming THATCamp the first weekend of June, and this reading list will be invaluable. Also, I am the owner of the GDoc included here, and plan to dig through it and sort out my own response post in the near future.


Micah V

Thanks, Braden. I'll add your post to the next update here.

Please add her piece to your compilation?

"This is my maiden effort at writing fiction, dedicated with respect and affection to my colleagues in the diaspora."

By Cathy Moulder, former Map Librarian @ McMaster U. (ACMLA Award winner, GIS pioneer...)

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