Canadian Research Librarians have Little Time for Scholarship

Pamela Haley

Abstract


A review of:
Fox, David. “Finding Time for Scholarship: A Survey of Canadian Research University Librarians.” Portal: Libraries and the Academy 7.4 (2007): 451-62.

Objective – To provide comparative data from Canadian research universities regarding the time spent on scholarly activities by research librarians.

Design – Qualitative study employing a bilingual survey consisting of thirty-nine questions.

Setting – Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) located at the twenty-seven CARL universities during the spring and fall of 2006.

Subjects – CARL university librarians for whom e-mail addresses could be retrieved.

Methods – The survey was distributed to 1052 CARL librarians during the spring and fall of 2006 via e-mail. Problems with the clarity of two questions became evident during the receipt of responses. The questions were revised and resubmitted to the same population.

Main Results – Five hundred and twenty responses (49.4%) were received, with 441 (84.8%) in English and 15.2% in French. A total of 53 surveys were unusable, leaving 467 (44.4%) cases as the basis for data analysis. Responses to the survey revealed that 51.4% of participants were required or encouraged to undertake scholarship. Of these, 35% were expected, in addition to sabbatical and study leaves, to make scholarship an integral and ongoing part of their professional responsibilities. Due to the individualized and subjective nature of the responses, no clear data emerged on the balance between scholarship and other professional activities. The majority of research librarians, on average, spent less than five hours per week on scholarship activities. For the 290 full-time librarians surveyed, the average time spent per week on all activities (professional and scholarly) was 47.4 hours. Almost one third of the full time librarians worked fifty hours or more per week – the equivalent to the time commitment of the average university professor. Participants indicated that in an ideal world they would like to spend 10% less time on assigned duties. Francophone respondents spent 5% more of their time on professional responsibilities and 5% less time on scholarship. Participation rates in scholarship related leaves are low, with less than 25% of those surveyed engaging in these opportunities.

Conclusion – Based on the study’s findings, research librarians are not participating in scholarship to any great degree due to the perceived lack of time.

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