The cuts keep coming.

Dusting the books (1913); Source: New York Public Library

Next up is the Centre for Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto. Founded by Northrop Frye. Yes, Northrop Frye. If that’s not iconic enough, I’m afraid these types of decisions will continue.

In Alberta, The Alberta Library created a digital library service called the Lois Hole Campus Alberta Digital Library (LHCADL) – not exactly a catchy name, but named after Lois Hole, member of the Order of Canada and Lieutenant Governor of Alberta until her death from cancer in 2000. The thinking was that surely the government would never cut funding to such legacy. Well, the LHCADL is a shadow of its former self, but apparently will not be cut altogether (scrapping the initiative will cause bad press, so the government will just continue to provide less and less funding).

The LHCADL was a pleasant discovery for me after I moved from Ontario to Alberta. I had grown accustomed to superior library resources through collaboration and consortia arrangements, like Scholar’s Portal and Knowledge Ontario. You’d think libraries would all get a pat on the back for being such good sports, playing nicely together and sharing. Instead, this type of initiative (pennies, really, to the government) gets sidelined.

At U of T, the proposal is to create a School of Languages and Literature, one that would amalgamate the smaller and, let’s face it, unprofitable departments of interdisciplinary studies including East Asian Studies and Slavic Studies. This new approach is supposed to be responsive, more cost-efficient. Once all of these departments have found a way to exist as one School, will that save them from having resources continually cut? Will the School grow and flourish or shrink?

I’m also currently reading Juris Dilevko’s recent book The Politics of Professionalism: A Retro-Progressive Proposal for Librarianship, where he uses the corporatization of education institutions as a foundation for his argument.

As U of T English grad, I assume that the Department of English will always be ‘safe’. Upon entering my studies, almost any ‘outsider’ I met would say “English, really? What are you going to do with that?” Studying humanities always seemed to require justification. I thought that others just didn’t get it. Now it seems that the University itself is turning its back on learning for learning’s sake and the importance of the humanities. What’s next?

The good news is that people are noticing these types of decisions:

Sign the Save Comparative Literature at University of Toronto petition here and join the Facebook page.

Join the Knowledge Ontario Matters Facebook page.

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