The Association of University of New Brunswick Teachers (AUNBT), the largest union representing librarians in New Brunswick, condemns the recent appointment of a non-librarian as Executive Director of the New Brunswick Public Library Service (NBPLS).
The Executive Director, or “Provincial Librarian” in the New Brunswick Public Libraries Act, is responsible for a network of 63 libraries across the province. New Brunswick’s public libraries are highly valued, and recent research has shown a marked increase in public library use. However, what librarians do and how their leadership contributes to the system’s success remains poorly understood.
Public librarians, like AUNBT’s academic librarian members, are required to earn a graduate degree from an institution accredited by the American Library Association. This degree is the first step in a career of public service that can only be learned in libraries. The job posting for NBPLS Executive Director listed the degree as an essential qualification, but the new executive director does not have it, nor does he have any relevant experience. The education and expertise of professional librarians is fundamental to a strong public library system that serves the public good.
Having librarians at the most senior levels of leadership in libraries is essential. Experienced librarians are aware of the key issues facing public libraries and can advocate for library services at the highest levels of government, to political leaders who do not always understand their value. This move to de-professionalize the leadership of our public library system is a threat to professional librarians and to the public.
AUNBT urges the New Brunswick government to reconsider its decision and to retain a professional librarian as the head of NBPLS.