November 26, 2022

The Canadian Library Association Votes to Dissolve

tweetAs reported in this tweet, if not elsewhere, the Canadian Library Association has voted to dissolve. As astonishing as it is to write that sentence, this has actually been a long time coming. As long as a year ago a process was put in place that led to this moment.

The document “Toward a Federation of Library Associations in Canada” outlines the future. Rather than trying to keep an increasingly weak national association alive, the idea is to allow the currently strong provincial associations to collaborate on national issues as needed. For many years the Ontario Library Association Annual Conference has dwarfed the CLA Conference.

Still, it’s somewhat shocking to see this transpire.

Roy Tennant About Roy Tennant

Roy Tennant is a Senior Program Officer for OCLC Research. He is the owner of the Web4Lib and XML4Lib electronic discussions, and the creator and editor of Current Cites, a current awareness newsletter published every month since 1990. His books include "Technology in Libraries: Essays in Honor of Anne Grodzins Lipow" (2008), "Managing the Digital Library" (2004), "XML in Libraries" (2002), "Practical HTML: A Self-Paced Tutorial" (1996), and "Crossing the Internet Threshold: An Instructional Handbook" (1993). Roy wrote a monthly column on digital libraries for Library Journal for a decade and has written numerous articles in other professional journals. In 2003, he received the American Library Association's LITA/Library Hi Tech Award for Excellence in Communication for Continuing Education. Follow him on Twitter @rtennant.


  1. Thanks for reporting this to a U.S. audience, Roy, which I mean entirely seriously.

    It’s a bit less shocking when viewed from the Canadian context. Canada’s federal model is radically different than that in the US, and the inherent schism that exists between Quebec and the rest of Canada–on nearly any issue–means that one of Canada’s largest and certainly most culturally rich provinces is nearly entirely absent from a wide swath of national initiatives, not least CLA.

    It’s also less concerning to me since I’m familiar with the German experience. There is no single “German Library Association” (DBV is, literally, an association of and for libraries) but rather a grouping of associations, some of which are more for individuals, others more for organizations. Canada is headed in that direction and I see many benefits–as a non-ALA member in particular–in something other than the monolithic “(some nationality here) Library Association” model which has its own inherent flaws and issues.

    That said, I remain curious about how well this federated model of provincial associations is going to work, not least when it comes to national policy. I’m not worried, however. One of the great strengths of the Canadian library environment is a high degree of collaboration and mutual support, particularly with regard to academic libraries. You probably know what I mean as an Access regular.