Category Archives: Library Science

Communication Options for Libraries: Email, Listservs, Forums, Chat

Here is a table outlining the pros and cons, and appropriate use in libraries for each of the following online communication methods: email, listservs, discussion forums (bulletin boards), chat/IM.

Method Pros Cons Use
Email – one-to-one and one-to-many communication possible
– private communication and consultation can be accomplished easily
– patrons can get direct contact with information professionals
– listing private email addresses on websites invites spam
– using email to communicate with a large number of people can cause privacy issues if BCC is not used
– archives not searchable by anyone other than the people who are directly involved
– if all library email goes to one address, recipient can become overwhelmed
– good for private communication between a single patron and library staff
– good for communication between library staff members
Listservs – one-to-many communication possible, and easier to maintain than with only email
– relevant information can be put in the hands of interested parties as soon as it is available
– if the listserv is for communication purposes rather than just for announcements, the members can learn from each other
– archives can be made searchable so even members who joined later can benefit from information that has come up in the past
– one-to-one communication is possible, but can be difficult for individual users to implement depending on how the listserv is set up
– sometimes devolve into misunderstanding and fighting so moderators need to actively monitor communication
– members cannot always subscribe/unsubscribe themselves, so moderators need to do basic maintenance work on a regular basis
– good for announcements from library staff to patrons and other interested parties
Forums – one-to-many and (usually, but not always) one-to-one communication possible
– members are free to check the forum when they need/want to and do not get bombarded with unwanted emails on topics that they are not interested in
– members don’t always check the forum for updates
– public forums often attract impolite users, spammers, and trolls, so the moderators have to spend time patrolling the forum for abuse and misuse
– need a critical number of members to join before the forum format can work
– good for suggestion boards
– perhaps good for users to share information about local events
– perhaps best for librarians to use amongst themselves rather than as a resource for patrons
Chat – one-to-one and (usually, but not always) one-to-many communication possible, however there is usually a fairly low limit to the “many”
– private communication and consultation can be accomplished easily
– patrons can get immediate answers
– not all chat clients save conversations, so it can be difficult to store and retrieve the information obtained through chat
– if a library offers reference services via chat, a librarian must be available at all times to respond, otherwise people will not feel that the service is reliable
– good for private communication between a single patron and library staff
– good for questions requiring immediate and non-complex answers

2005 JSLIS Abstract: Library Advocacy In Canada

Here is the abstract for a presentation that I did at the May 2005 conference of the Japan Society of Library and Information Science.

氏名: Shaney Crawford
所属: 筑波大学 図書館情報メディア研究科
発表題目: カナダにおける図書館アドボカシー (Library Advocacy in Canada)

本研究は、カナダにおける図書館アドボカシーの実態を解明し、それを分析することを目的としている。カナダにおけるアドボカシーを理解することにより、カナダだけでなく世界的に図書館アドボカシーの取り組みを改善するための基盤を得ることができるであろう。 アドボカシーとは、「図書館に影響を与え得るような政治的決断を下す人たちに、図書館および図書館界の活動に十分配慮させるため、図書館員および図書館協会の職員をはじめとする図書館界が行う継続的な取組み」と定義でき、図書館は国の教育・福祉基盤に必要不可欠な要素であるが、その存在と機能は、政治環境の変化によって脅かされる可能性が大きい。
本研究ではアドボカシーの展開をLibrary Book Rate (LBR)を用いて明らかにする。LBRとは、図書館がカナダ国内の他の図書館や個人宛に本を送る際に利用できる郵便料金の優遇制度である。この優遇制度は、カナダ連邦政府の方針に基づいて、刊行物支援計画(Publications Assistance Program)の一環として行われている。LBRは1939年から実施されており、図書館界では1967年以来、この制度を維持するため、多様なアドボカシーの取組みを続けている。その中心的役割を担っているのが、カナダ図書館協会、フランス語を話す人を対象とした図書館協会ASTED、カナダ国立図書館、および連邦政府、カナダ郵政公社である。

Research on Library Advocacy in Canada

My research at the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Tsukuba involved library advocacy.

There are an estimated 19,092 libraries in Canada. This includes public libraries, school libraries, academic (university) libraries, provincial libraries, special libraries, and one national library. These libraries all depend on the funding that they receive from federal, provincial, and local governments in their efforts to bring state-of-the-art library and information services to the citizens of Canada. Libraries are politically vulnerable entities because their level of political salience is low (meaning that they are not well-known in political circles), and the amount of controversy they stir up is also low, so they are not considered to be “politically useful tools” by most politicians.
Certain librarians and library associations have noticed the precarious position of libraries in Canadian political circles and have set out to make sure that the library voice is heard when legislative decisions are being made. Library advocacy, while still not a major movement in library circles, is gaining ground. Lobbying, once — and perhaps still — a dirty word in the minds of some librarians, has become a necessity.

For the purposes of my research “lobbying” was defined as “conducting activities aimed at influencing public officials, especially members of a legislative body, on legislation”. Lobbying is undertaken in order to attempt to influence or sway a public official toward a desired action. The desired action could be the passing of certain legislation, or equally, it could entail blocking certain legislation.

2004 Research Trip to Canada

I took a trip to Canada (Jan 19 – Feb 18, 2004) to learn more about library advocacy and to decide on a research topic for my thesis.

2005 JSLIS Conference

Here are the materials I used during my presentation at the 2005 Japan Society of Library and Information Science (JSLIS) Conference in May 2005. (The materials are all in Japanese.)

Research Papers

Library Advocacy In Canada: Defending The Library Book Rate

I am slowly putting the content of this paper online. Please forgive the gaps. (And feel free to contact me to tell me to hurry up if you want to read the rest!)


This research was made possible by the generous co-operation of the Canadian Library Association (CLA), and Library and Archives Canada (LAC, formerly the National Library of Canada). Both associations offered unrestricted access to their files on the Library Book Rate and their advocacy efforts to date. Impact Public Affairs, a government relations firm that works with the Canadian Library Association, also provided a number of key documents on the association’s lobbying activities.

I am particularly indebted to Carrol Lunau of Library and Archives Canada, a key player in the library book rate negotiations on behalf of the Canadian library community. She has repeatedly offered her support and advice during this project.

Canada Post was kind enough to provide me with detailed archives on the historical library book rates and leads for further research.

I would also like to thank my advisor, Mr. Jun’ichi Yamamoto, for his fair and consistent evaluation of my progress over the past three years.

Table of Contents


  • A Japanese (approx. 2000 characters)
  • B English (approx. 600 words)

Chapter 1 — Background

  • A Introduction
  • B Definitions
  • (I) Advocacy
    (II) Interest Groups
    (III) Lobbying
    (IV) Library Book Rate

  • C Sources
  • D Literature Review

Chapter 2 — Library Book Rate (LBR)

  • A Introduction
  • (I) What is the Library Book Rate?
    (II) What other countries have special rates for libraries?
    (III) What is the purpose of the LBR?
    (IV) What are the conditions of the LBR?
    (V) Who uses the LBR?
    (VI) How is the LBR used?
    (VII) What are the problems with the LBR?

  • B History of the Library Book Rate
  • (I) When was the LBR initiated?
    (II) How has the LBR changed?

  • C Legislation and Administration
  • (I) Who is involved in administering the LBR?
    (II) What legislation exists about the LBR?

  • D Costs and Benefits
  • (I) What costs are involved in the LBR?
    (II) Who benefits from the LBR?

  • E Future of the LBR

Chapter 3 — Library Advocacy in Canada

  • A Introduction
  • (I) The Need for Advocacy
    (II) CLA as Interest Group
    (III) Lobbyists’ Registration Act

  • B Players
  • (I) Canadian Library Association (CLA)
    (II) National Library of Canada (NLC)
    (III) Federal Government — Department of Canadian Heritage (PCH)
    (IV) Canada Post Corporation (CPC)

  • C History of Advocacy Work on the LBR
  • (I) 1930s – 1950s
    (II) 1960s
    (III) 1970s
    (IV) 1980s
    (V) 1990s
    (VI) 2000s

Chapter 4 — Analysis and Discussion

  • A Characteristics of Library Advocacy Work in Canada
  • (I) Non-Partisan
    (II) Bureaucrats vs. Politicians
    (III) Waves of Activity
    (IV) The Champion
    (V) The Written Word
    (VI) Creative Endeavours Unique to the Champion
    (VII) Research as Advocacy
    (VIII) Coalitions
    (IX) Use of Paid Lobbyist
    (X) Reactive rather than proactive
    (XI) Education and On-The-Job Training

  • B Challenges to Library Advocacy Work in Canada
  • (I) Timing
    (II) Dissent in the Library Community
    (III) Communication
    (IV) Inclusion, Information
    (V) Too Many Canadas
    (VI) Fatigue
    (VII) Perceived Expense
    (VIII) Positions Change Over Time
    (IX) Working in the Political Arena
    (X) Government as Moving Target
    (XI) Who does what?
    (XII) Defining Success
    (XIII) The Need for Innovation
    (XIV) Apolitical Nature of Libraries

Chapter 5 — Conclusions

  • A Summary
  • B Conclusions
  • C Future Research


  • A Published Sources
  • B Index of Primary Documents (From CLA, NLC, IPA Archives)


  • A Abbreviations
  • B Timeline of the Library Book Rate
  • C Map of the Postal Code System in Canada
  • D Library Book Rate – Historical Rates
  • Original System (1939-1978)
    Second System (1978-1979)
    Third System (1979)
    Fourth System (1979-1985)
    Fifth System (1985-1989)
    Sixth System (1989-2004)

  • E Presidents and Executive Directors of the Canadian Library Association
  • F Letter to International Postal Organizations


A Japanese (approx. 2000 characters)



本研究ではアドボカシーの過程をLibrary Book Rate (LBR)を用いて明らかにする。LBRとは、図書館がカナダ国内の他の図書館や個人宛に本を送る際に利用できる郵便料金の優遇制度である。この優遇制度は、カナダ連邦政府の方針に基づいて、ヘリテージ省(Department of Canadian Heritage)の管轄のもと刊行物支援計画(Publications Assistance Program)の一環として行われている。LBRは1939年から実施されており、図書館界では1967年以来、この方針を守り充実させるべく、さまざまなアドボカシーの取り組みを続けている。その中心的役割を担っているのが、カナダ図書館協会(Canadian Library Association)、フランス語を話す人を対象とした図書館協会ASTED、カナダ国立図書館(National Library of Canada)、連邦政府、カナダ郵政公社(Canada Post Corporation)である。





B English (approx. 600 words)

The present study aims to describe and analyze the processes involved in library advocacy in Canada. A clear understanding of these processes will serve as a basis for improvement in advocacy efforts, both for Canada and for libraries around the world.

Advocacy is defined as “a sustained effort by librarians and library association staff to keep libraries and the work they do in the minds of the people who make the political decisions that affect libraries”. While libraries are integral units in a country’s social welfare infrastructure, they are not immune to having their funding or programming jeopardized by changing political environments.

In the present study, the Library Book Rate (LBR) is used to illustrate the advocacy process. The LBR is a preferential postal rate for libraries to send books to individuals and other libraries within Canada. The rate is based on a federal policy that is overseen by the Department of Canadian Heritage as a part of its Publications Assistance Program. The LBR has been in existence since 1939 and the library world has engaged in various advocacy efforts to protect and enhance this program since 1967. Key players in these efforts include the Canadian Library Association (CLA) and its French language counterpart (ASTED), the National Library of Canada, the federal government, and Canada Post Corporation.

By examining a detailed history of the advocacy efforts from the 1960s to the present, the current study aims to define the characteristics of library advocacy work in Canada, and identify the challenges that the library community faces when trying to protect its interests. LBR advocacy work in the late 1960s involved communicating directly with Canada Post. In the late 1970s, the postal service effectively split from the federal government to become a crown corporation. The library community was then faced with a dual-tiered system, in which they would lobby the federal government, and the government would then negotiate with Canada Post. Advocacy efforts became more collaborative from the late 1980s and research started to play a more important role in the 1990s. Recent strategies include more advanced techniques such as the use of a professional lobbyist and direct contact with legislators by important members of the library community.

It was found that library advocacy in Canada is reactive rather than pro-active, it is non-partisan, and relies more on contact with bureaucrats than with politicians. There are spurts and lulls in activity, with intervals between forays becoming shorter in recent years. A key individual, or “champion”, is important to the success of advocacy; however, each champion uses different techniques to effect change in her era. Furthermore, the Canadian library community understands the rhetoric of advocacy and recognizes the importance of research in advocacy work.

Challenges to library advocacy work in Canada include factors that the library community can control, and some that they cannot. The community can control, to a certain extent, the timing of its advocacy work and the amount of dissent in the community that is made public. It can improve communication amongst its members and decide for itself how it defines success and failure. Factors that cannot be controlled include the amount of inclusion that the library community enjoys in policy communities, the amount of information they are given, and the amount of fatigue they experience when dealing with a particular issue over a long time.

The purpose of this research is to show that advocacy is not unidimensional, but that it is a complex process involving myriad factors, some controllable, others not. The success or failure of an advocacy attempt cannot be predicted and can even have little to do with the amount of effort put into a particular campaign. While the need for advocacy in the library community is indisputable, more research is necessary to determine the most efficient way for libraries to ask for, and get, what they want.

Chapter 1 — Background

A Introduction

As integral units in a country’s social welfare infrastructure, public libraries find themselves in a uniquely protected and yet precarious political position. While their connection with local, provincial, and federal governments may afford them a certain privileged status among non-profit organizations, they must also endure rounds of cutbacks and jockey for the limited funds that are allocated to municipal budgets.

Public librarians in Canada have become more aware of the library’s status in political circles and have recently started to learn the techniques necessary for securing a healthy future for their organizations. In 2001, the Canadian Library Association (CLA) and the Canadian Association for Public Libraries (CAPL) published the Library Advocacy Now! (LAN) Training Workbook as a part of the LAN! program. Training in library advocacy was originally initiated by the American Library Association (ALA) and has been offered as a part of Canadian conferences since 1996.

The word “advocacy” is being bandied about the library community recently, making it sound like a new phenomenon, but library advocacy has been around for as long as libraries have existed: libraries have always had to justify their existence to their sponsors. Crawford (1985) describes advocacy work that was done in England during the mid to late 1800s to introduce libraries into rural regions. An even earlier example can be seen in work to increase the funds available to the Library of Congress. After the library was destroyed by fire in 1802, the Librarian of Congress soon started to employ “the strategy of presenting in his report to Congress statistics of the great national libraries of the world to persuade them of the importance of increased appropriations for library growth” (Donnelly, 1973). However, these forays into the political world were often spearheaded by people who had an interest in libraries, but were not employed by a library. The recognition of library advocacy as an official role of the general librarian is a fairly recent phenomenon.

Libraries, as essentially apolitical organizations, may seem to have little to do with the political scene. However, the list of library issues that have a political component is endless: the establishment of libraries, determining the portion of tax revenue designated for library use; deciding who has the right to representation on library boards; depository rules; reporting rules (whether library must submit its annual reports to the government it works with); the right to impose penalties; efforts to exempt library property from taxation; resource-sharing rules, etc. (Doerschuk, 1980). In the early years of library development in an area, libraries may not have official legal status, they may lack a stable financial basis, and may depend too heavily on volunteerism (Taylor, 1980). As those problems are solved, new issues such as salaries, professional certification, and the need for expanded services come to the forefront. As these issues all have roots in legislation, the need becomes obvious for libraries to have a finger on the pulse of the political scene, even in the early days of their development.

In the present study, the Library Book Rate (LBR), an issue that concerns the library community in Canada, is used to illustrate the advocacy process. The Library Book Rate is a preferential postal rate for libraries to use in sending books to individuals and other libraries within Canada. The rate is based on a federal policy that is overseen by the Department of Canadian Heritage as a part of its Publications Assistance Program. The rate has been in existence since 1939 and the library world has engaged in various advocacy efforts to protect and enhance this federal policy since 1967.

Key players in this debate include the Canadian Library Association (CLA) and its French language counterpart the Association pour l’avancement des sciences et techniques de la documentation (ASTED), the National Library, the federal government, and Canada Post Corporation. The library associations and the National Library have been working both individually and in collaboration, with varying levels of success, for the past forty years on protecting the rate, deflecting increases, and expanding the definition of the rate.

It may seem that postal rates are fairly far removed from mainstream library issues, but as was recognized in an Australian National Resource Sharing Working Group report (1999), postal service “impacts on perceived library performance in delivering ILL services and impacts on service standards, both individual and national”. Changes in postal policies, therefore, can have serious effects on library performance, or perceived performance.

Because Canada is such a large country with a relatively small population, it is deemed more efficient to use public money on resource sharing rather than spending huge sums on building large, somewhat similar, individual collections. Facilitating interlibrary loans with the LBR saves public money through both the delivery cost and the cost of purchasing the books themselves. The LBR allows individual libraries to purchase a wider variety of books, thus strengthening the wide-area collections held by the regions.

However, due to ever-changing political climates, the LBR is constantly in jeopardy of being cut back or eliminated entirely. The present study focuses on the efforts of the library community to keep LBR funding at current levels and to increase the range of its coverage (currently only books are eligible, to the exclusion of all other audio-visual formats). Protecting this important federal program involves an intricate web of participants ranging from library users, local public librarians, politicians at the municipal, provincial, and federal level, library associations, and the national library.

Libraries are not like other interest groups, and they do not act like other interest groups when they lobby governments. They have specific characteristics that work for and against them in the political process. For example, libraries are very highly regarded by the general public in Canada. According to a Citizens First report (Erin Research, 1998), Canadian public libraries rated second only to fire departments in terms of overall service quality, well ahead of private sector services in general (11th), municipal government services in general (17th), and federal and provincial services in general (tied for 20th). They are generally perceived as “good”. They have very few enemies and their requests for money are not usually outrageous. (Not a great deal of money is needed to do a comparable amount of “good” in a library.) On the other hand, libraries are not a particularly “flashy” issue in the political realm, and only form a very small dot on the government’s radar. Ironically, because libraries don’t spend a lot of money, they aren’t considered to be big players. Furthermore, they are not considered “essential”, like roads or sanitation programs. In order to understand and improve upon library advocacy techniques, these unique characteristics need to be recognized and their role in helping and hindering advocacy efforts in a Canadian context needs to be made clear.

A great deal of the (albeit limited) information on library advocacy comes from American sources. The political system south of the border differs to a large enough extent that developing Canadian advocacy efforts according to US-based principles is misguided at best, and moreover, very likely to result in failure. The current study attempts to place library advocacy in a Canadian context in order to analyze it more accurately and provide conclusions that can be applied to other attempts to advocate for the library community in Canada. Historical information on the Library Book Rate has been collected from the Canadian Library Association (CLA), Canada Post, and the National Library of Canada (NLC).

Historical information on advocacy efforts comes primarily from a collection of Canadian Library Association and National Library of Canada documents that spans from 1967 to 2004. Additional documents were provided by the Canada Post Corporation and Impact Public Affairs, a government affairs consulting agency that works with the Canadian Library Association. The documents include business correspondence between the organizations and other political entities, various (generally unpublished) studies that have been done on the LBR over the years, and a number of internal memoranda that outline advocacy strategies. The documents have been put into chronological order (see References B) and were examined for specific activities, trends, and common themes.

The purpose of this study is to present a description of the unique characteristics of library advocacy in Canada and outline the particular challenges the library community in Canada faces when trying to persuade the political world to act. A clearer view of the history of the federal level advocacy movement to date should result in a more effective campaign to protect Canadian libraries.

Note: The National Library of Canada and the National Archives of Canada officially merged to become Library and Archives Canada (LAC) in 2002. Since the majority of the activities described in this paper took place before 2002, I have chosen to refer to this entity as the National Library of Canada (or NLC). Also, the national postal service of Canada is referred to as Canada Post throughout this document for reasons of clarity. In fact, until 1981, when it was privatized and commercialized, the postal service was known as the “Post Office Department”.

B Definitions

(I) Advocacy

Despite what you may think, politics and lobbying are not dirty words, but necessities in every organization. (Siess, 2003)

Various definitions for advocacy exist, but for the library community, the key point is that it is “a sustained effort by librarians and library association staff to keep libraries and the work they do in the minds of the people who make the political decisions that affect libraries”. Issues in library advocacy include funding, accessibility for those with special needs, intellectual freedom, preferential treatment given to libraries in recognition of their public contribution, etc. Any library issue is potentially an issue that requires advocacy.

It is important, however, to be able to discriminate between advocacy, public relations, and marketing. Public relations is a one-way message from the library to the public. It tells the people what the library is, what it can do, and when. Marketing is the process of finding out what the public wants from the library and discovering ways to give it to them. Public relations and marketing are both important aspects of advocacy work, but they do not go far enough to promote library issues. Advocacy involves interaction and partnerships. It involves communication between libraries and the decision makers in the community. It usually involves an issue that is of great importance to the library. A library advocate may use the tools of public relations and marketing during an advocacy campaign, but the actual goal of an advocate is to “favourably influence the attitudes of a designated group or individual” (Burdenuk, 1984) leading to a decision that improves the lot of libraries. Advocacy efforts are directed towards the powerholders in a community, rather than to the public at large.

It is probably easier to understand the concept of advocacy through an example. Non-smokers can advocate for non-smoking by-laws in cities. An important part of the advocacy strategy will be to mobilize the public. Public relations and marketing strategies can be employed to educate and grab the interest of the public. The anti-smoking advocates can use print or electronic media to get their message across, or they can host special events or create sustained marketing campaigns. These are all examples of standard public relations tools. This will not be enough, however, to get the bylaws changed. In order to effect change, the advocates will have to meet with the decision-makers in the community and try to show the decision-makers how non-smoking by-laws will advance their own (the politicians’) agendas. If the advocates are meeting with a politician, for example, they might try to find out what issue the politician is currently working on in her district. If she is trying to promote safety in the community, the advocates can show how the non-smoking by-laws will make public areas safer for children. If she is trying to improve tourism, the advocates can try to show that tourists prefer non-smoking environments (especially if they are travelling with their children) and that restaurants and bars in cities with non-smoking by-laws have not lost any revenue since prohibiting smoking on their premises. This kind of work, involving partnerships and linking agendas, is the kind of advocacy that will be covered in this paper.

(II) Interest Groups

Paul Pross (1992) defines pressure groups as “organizations whose members act together to influence public policy in order to promote their common interest”. This study will use his definition, but will make use of the term “interest groups” rather than his choice of “pressure groups”. Calling CLA a pressure group is somewhat misleading. CLA does not exist solely to pressure the government. It is a group that has a vested interest in the promotion and survival of libraries and library-related legislation. When those interests are threatened, CLA may act to pressure the government into protecting the library interest. Pross prefers the use of “pressure group” because he feels that “interest group” is misleading. He says that it implies that when people complain of government being swayed by “interests”, it is being affected by interest groups, when that is not always the case. He prefers the precision of “pressure” as he feels that it is more appropriate even though it focuses on a single part of a group’s range of behaviour. While that is a convincing argument for the use of “pressure groups” over “interest groups” in theory, the word “pressure” does indeed imply constant pressure and, furthermore, the over-riding goal of a pressure group would seem to be to apply pressure. Pross is justified in using the term “pressure” when discussing the role of various groups in the political process, but when applied to an individual organization like the Canadian Library Association in the context of this research, “interest” is more acceptable and appropriate.

(III) Lobbying

“Lobbying” is the act of trying to influence the government. Unfortunately, while the definition of the word itself does not suggest anything untoward, mention of the word “lobby” conveys a certain venal nuance. For that reason, “advocacy” has been chosen as a term to represent the concept of trying to influence the government without implying any money necessarily changing hands.

(IV) Library Book Rate

The Library Book Rate (LBR) is discounted postal rate for libraries to use when sending books to individuals and other libraries within Canada. It has been in existence since 1939 and libraries have had to work to protect this rate (or keep the rates low) since at least 1967, and possibly earlier. The details of the LBR are explained at length in Chapter 2.
This paper is not concerned with postal rates for books that are sent by one individual to another. Certain countries offer such a “book rate”, but this concept is not covered here. Also, this paper will not discuss the special postal rates that are used to send reading materials to people with visual impairments. Furthermore, there are special postal rates for publishers who send large volumes of books. This kind of commercial book rate is not considered in this paper. (These specific exclusions are discussed in detail in Chapter 2, Section A (I).)

C Sources

A historical and analytical approach is used in this study. Research has been based on primary documents (letters, faxes, emails, memos, summaries, mainly unpublished), various studies, and factual documents collected from the archives of the National Library of Canada, the Canadian Library Association, Impact Public Affairs, and the Internet. See References, Section B for an indexed list of the documents.

There are approximately 180 documents about the Library Book Rate from the CLA archives, spanning from 1967 to the present. During that time, there have been 37 presidents of the association and 11 executive directors (2 acting). (See Appendix E for a full list of all presidents and executive directors since 1946.) The quality of the CLA archives differs greatly depending on the executive director who was in charge at the time. Paul Kitchen (1975-1986) kept detailed, hand-written records of his actions, including telephone calls and meetings. He emerges as the best record-keeper on this particular issue. A few notes also remain from the era of Jane Cooney, although it is not certain whether the records are actually hers or not because of the increasing use of typewritten documents. (Kitchen’s notes were always written in his distinctive writing style, so it was easy to identify him as the author of a note even if he did not sign his name.) Later actions of CLA have been discerned through the email archives of Carrol Lunau at the National Library of Canada.

A total of around 165 documents were retrieved from the National Library of Canada. These were almost all provided by Carrol Lunau from her private records as a participant of the LBR working group in the 1990s. These records span a much shorter time range (1990s to the present), but are much more detailed. Lunau started to make extensive use of email from the latter half of the 1990s, so her records from 1995 to the present time were extremely useful in this study. The switch from typewritten notes to email and computer files created an additional layer of authentication. The author, recipient(s), and date of transmission could be discerned with a greater level of ease than was possible with archives from earlier times. However, it can also be said that the advent of email brought an end to the handwritten note. Almost no handwritten records of meetings or phone calls are kept anymore, so evidence of these kinds of interactions have become much harder to come by in recent years.
A number of studies have been done on the LBR in recent years. The two biggest studies were done in 1998 and 2002. These two studies provided a number of statistics on the current rates of usage of the LBR and the problems that some of the users are having with the rate. The studies are summarized in Chapter 3, Section C (V) and (VI).

Because of the great distance between Japan and Canada, it was not possible to acquire as many documents as might have been desired. A total of almost 400 documents were retrieved from the Canadian Library Association and the National Library of Canada, but it is possible that more would have surfaced during the course of the research if it had been possible to visit Ottawa, Ontario a second time.

This research is based on primary documents but only those relating to the Library Book Rate. Further studies on the handling of additional advocacy issues are necessary to discover if the conclusions that have been drawn from this study can be be applied more widely.

D Literature Review

Due to the nature of the current study, the literature review will be, necessarily, rather short. This study is based on a large collection of historical documents, the nature of which will be revealed during the discussions on the advocacy work in Chapter 3. The current study’s heavy dependence on primary documents is a result of the fact that very little research has been done on library advocacy in the past. It is a very young field and it is only now starting to get the attention it deserves.

A number of books and articles have been written to help librarians learn about advocacy and how to become an advocate. From a practical perspective, these books are quite useful because they give practicing librarians specific suggestions about what they can do to improve the situation at their own libraries. However, these books do not include specific research-based information on how the advocacy process works. Furthermore, many of them have been written for librarians in the United States, so they are not always appropriate for use in Canada.

The Visible Librarian: Asserting Your Value with Marketing and Advocacy (Siess, 2003) is just this kind of book. It offers definitions of marketing, public relations, and advocacy, and gives various ideas about what the average librarian can do. It asserts that “too few librarians have management skills and political savvy” and states that there are “no courses on lobbying or advocacy” at library schools. Reports are anecdotal for the most part, and Siess does not delve into any accounts of research that have been done to strengthen her points, but that is perhaps natural as this book is meant for practitioners, not researchers.

Searching library journals for “advocacy” provides a long list of articles of just this nature — long on the pep talk, short on research. Some focus on attracting librarians to the cause (Matthews, 1997; Glass Shuman, 1999; Kirchner, 1999), or explaining advocacy techniques (Burdenuk, 1984, for teacher-librarians; St Clair & Williamson, 1992 for one-person libraries; Tremblay-McGaw, 1999, for librarians in advocacy organizations; and Shuler, 2002 for librarians involved with government information), while others work on motivating trustees (Miller, 2001).

One study did use scientific methods to discover more about advocacy methods. Straughan et al (1996) used controlled experiments to detect the effect on the audience of using various formats (advertisement vs. newspaper article) and sources (CEO vs. president of nonprofit organization) in advocacy messages. They found that news articles may be more effective than ads, and that the use of the CEO seems to be beneficial. While this research does not directly affect the outcome of the current study, it would be useful to have more examples of this type of study to direct advocacy efforts in the library community.

The current study is more along the lines of Crawford (1985) and Vandergrift (1996) who follow a cause and its advocates throughout a certain period of time. Crawford deals with the issue of library provision in England during the 19th century, while Vandergrift follows the progression of the women who advocated for children’s library services at the turn of the last century. While these studies had a strong focus on the people involved in the advocacy work on a specific issue, the current study follows the issue more closely than the personalities involved.

A number of studies have been done on the Library Book Rate. One was done some time in the 1960s, but it was not possible to locate a copy of that document, or even a specific date of publication. The next study was completed in 1982. It was commissioned by the Department of Communications and focused on usage statistics. A consultation document was drawn up in 1993 that outlined possible future directions for the postal subsidy. The study in 1998 gave detailed usage statistics and the 2002 study was similar, except for a detailed policy summary that put the LBR in a historical context. These studies and the role they played in the advocacy campaigns of the library community are discussed in detail in the section on the history of advocacy attempts (Chapter 3, Section C).

Historical accounts of CLA and NLC, such as Elizabeth Hulse’s The Morton Years and F. Dolores Donnelly’s The National Library of Canada: A Historical Analysis of the Forces which Contributed to its Establishment and to the Identification of its Role and Responsibilities, give detailed historical accounts of these two national organizations and how they came into being.

The number of books and articles that have been written on library advocacy work in Canada is, indeed, extremely limited. However, that fact only emphasizes the importance of the current study in laying the groundwork for further investigation into this difficult topic.

Chapter 2 — Library Book Rate (LBR)

A Introduction

(I) What is the Library Book Rate?

The Library [Book] Rate is an important factor in a national access strategy that ensures that all Canadians can fully participate as both citizens and consumers in the benefits of the information society and knowledge-based economy and furthers the government’s agenda to provide Canadians in every province and territory with reasonable access to a comprehensive bank of information on Canadian resources.

(Syd Jones, President of Canadian Library Association (1998-1999)
In a letter to Sheila Copps, Minister of Canadian Heritage (Archive No. 282))

The Library Book Rate (LBR), also known as the library rate, the postal book rate, the book rate, or library mail/library books (by Canada Post), is an important form of federal aid given to libraries across the country. It is included as an addendum to the Publications Assistance Program which is administered by the Department of Canadian Heritage in the Government of Canada. Put simply, it is a reduced postal rate for libraries to send books to their patrons or to other libraries. The official definition of the LBR can be found on Canada Post Corporation’s website:

Library Mail
This service is available to Public Libraries, University Libraries, and Libraries maintained by non profit organizations for use by the general public in Canada to mail library books to their Canadian patrons. This service is for books only and NOT tapes, videos or records.

The library must complete an “Application for Mail Privileges” form and be authorized by Canada Post to use this service.

The maximum weight for sewn or bound books is 5 kg, and is 3 kg for books that are not sewn or bound. The rates are based on a per item cost plus weight and destination. Postage paid by the library at the time of mailing covers both the outgoing and the return postage.

(Canada Post Corporation, 2004a)
The word “NOT” is capitalized in the original.

According to the 1998 Study of the Library Book Rate (Archive No. 255), the size restrictions are a maximum length, width, or depth of 1 metre, and maximum length plus girth of 2 metres.

The original Library Rate was introduced in 1939. Originally all costs were subsumed by the Post Office Department, but when the Post Office became a crown corporation, the federal government instituted a system of subsidies in return for the reduced rate given to libraries. In 1998, however, that subsidy was rescinded due to international political tensions that will be outlined in the section on advocacy (Chapter 3). Despite the missing subsidy, the reduced rate is still in effect. This presents a new challenge to the advocacy strategies of the library world, as Canada Post now has to underwrite the cost of this program. This problem will be discussed further in the section on the history of advocacy attempts (see, in particular, the 1990s).

This thesis is based on a specific library book postal rate, which is different from the kinds of book rates that are offered in other countries to regular members of the public (as can be found in Japan and the US, for example). Many countries have such rates for sending books either domestically or internationally, but they are not solely for the use of libraries. (See the following section for more information about special rates for books in other countries.)

The special postal rates offered to people who have visual impairment will also not be discussed here. In Canada this is called “Literature for the Blind” and is defined below.

Literature for the Blind is available free of charge to blind persons and recognized institutions for the blind. Literature for the Blind items are processed as Xpresspost, Regular Parcel, Lettermail or Letter-post. Only the following items can be mailed as Literature for the Blind:

  • items impressed in Braille or similar raised type
  • plates for printing literature for the blind
  • tapes and records posted by the blind
  • recording tapes, records and special writing paper intended solely for the use of the blind when mailed by, or addressed to, a recognized institution for the blind

(Canada Post Corporation, 2004b)

Furthermore, some countries (including Canada) offer a postal discount to publishers who send large quantities of books in bulk. In Canada, this is called “Commodity Book Rate” (as of October 1999, the terminology may have changed since then) and it is “available for publishers, retailers, and distributors who mail books domestically” (Archive No. 302). Publishers must sign a contract with Canada Post and must send at least 750 parcels annually to be eligible for this rate. Book mailers who have a contract with Canada Post and commit to preparing and presorting their shipments are eligible for Book Presort: “The Book Presort is available to large volume book shippers for their book packages posted in Canada, for delivery in Canada” (Canada Post Corporation, 2004c). Neither of these commercial book rates are covered in this research.

(II) What other countries have special rates for libraries?

No studies have been done to compare special library book rates around the world. The Canadian Library Association tried to find out this kind of information in 2001 (Archive No. 336) and it was originally part of the information sought in the 2002 Study of the Library Book Rate, but it was discovered to be impossible to research this topic effectively at those times.

As a part of the current study, an informal survey was undertaken in April 2004 to discover the prevalence of library book rates in other countries. The email addresses of the postal organizations of 68 countries were located and each one was sent a copy of the letter that can be found in Appendix F.

The information survey was sent to the following countries.

Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Ascension, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Gambia, Germany, Grenada, Hong Kong, Iran, Ireland, Kuwait, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Malawi, Malta, Mauritius, Moldova, Myanmar, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, Togo, Tonga, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Kingdom

The following chart shows the responses received. Japan and the United States were added, as their situation is known to the author.

Country Library Book Rate Book Rate
Australia no no
Belgium no yes
Bhutan no yes
Canada yes yes
Estonia no yes
Finland no no
Germany no yes
Hong Kong no no
Japan no yes
Netherlands no yes
New Zealand no yes
Norway no no
Spain no yes
Switzerland no no
United States yes yes

The response to the survey was low, most likely owing to language difficulties and problems with email addresses. (A great number of the emails were eventually returned because the address was no longer valid, despite the fact that the address was generally taken from the official website of the postal service of that country.) While the response rate was very low, it can be seen that the existence of a specific postal rate for library books is likely the exception rather than the rule.

Further study on relationships between national postal organizations and libraries may be possible in the near future, as more nations develop more reliable web sites and email addresses as their information infrastructure improves.

(III) What is the purpose of the LBR?

There is a growing population of Canadians who are able to use the public library only if it is brought to them. These Canadians have been, are, and many will continue to be tax-paying citizens, who have just as much right as any other citizen in a library’s jurisdiction to that library’s services if they wish it — and the library has an obligation to provide it.

(Crooks, 1989)

According to Canadian Heritage (the federal department that oversees this program), the purpose of the LBR is to:

[p]rovide access to those readers who, due to their geographic location or physical limitation, do not have access to a public library by supporting the distribution of library books to such readers or for the purposes of interlibrary loans.

(Department of Canadian Heritage, 2001b)

Because Canada is such a large country with a relatively small population, it is deemed more efficient to use public money on resource sharing than to spend huge sums on building large individual collections. As the Australian National Resource Sharing Working Group (1999) states, libraries “cannot be self sufficient and […] effective interlibrary loan (ILL) and document delivery (DD) processes are critical for maintaining access to information”. Facilitating interlibrary loans with the LBR saves public money through both the delivery cost and the cost of purchasing the books themselves. The LBR allows individual libraries to purchase a wider variety of books, thus strengthening the wide-area collections held by the regions.

Furthermore, the Canadian Information Resource Sharing Strategy (National Library of Canada, 1994) states that “Access [to information] must not be restricted by geographic barriers or conditions that can result from age, disabilities, or economic factors.” The LBR plays an important role in ensuring that access to information remains barrier free.

It is interesting to note that the wording of the Canadian Heritage statement of the LBR purpose has clear political ramifications. Reading the above statement gives the impression that the LBR mainly serves to deliver books to underprivileged individuals who cannot otherwise reach a library in their area. In fact, according to a study on the LBR published in 2002, ninety percent of the use of the LBR is for the purposes of interlibrary loans. That is not to say that interlibrary loans do not assist the underprivileged. Certainly they do. But putting the emphasis on the individual readers makes a political statement that is difficult to argue against. The directed use of this kind of rhetoric is very important in advocacy work and will be discussed in greater detail in Chapter 4 (Analysis and Discussion).

(IV) What are the conditions of the LBR?

The Library Book Rate is aptly named. Despite nearly 40 years of advocacy efforts (starting in 1967) by the Canadian library community, the rate is limited to books. Libraries in Canada started collecting records, film, and microfilm on a regular basis in the 1970s, adding videos and cassettes in the 1980s, and cds in the 1990s. However, books are still the only form of media that may be delivered by the LBR. Various attempts to increase the range of the LBR definition are discussed in Chapter 3 but success has not been reached on this key issue despite more than 30 years of advocacy on the topic. (As will be discussed in a later chapter, the advocacy work to establish the National Library of Canada lasted for almost a century, so perhaps there is still hope for the expansion of the LBR.)

The LBR is, in effect, a one-way ticket for a two-way trip. The return trip is included in the price. This works well for libraries since they can send books out to patrons and ensure that they will come back without relying on the patron to pay for the postage. There is one major drawback in this system, however. In an interlibrary loan transaction, there is a lending library and a borrowing library. The borrowing library requests the book from the lending library, and the lending library then sends the book at its own expense to the borrowing library. It is a basic fact in Canadian librarianship that some libraries are net lenders, while others are net borrowers. The lenders — the ones who have paid for the book in the first place — end up having to pay to send them to other libraries, while the borrowers, therefore, get away with buying fewer books and incurring fewer postal charges. This is a fundamental imbalance that probably works out for many smaller libraries in a region, but might cause frictions if one single, large library is having to do all the lending. There have been discussions within the library community to ask for a different fee structure that includes a one-way rate for a single, outgoing trip, but there is not enough agreement in the community to push for that kind of system. So, for now, the definition of the LBR includes the two-way trip. Any changes to this policy will have an effect not only on the lending library, but also on the receiving library and/or the patrons themselves.

The current rate is based on the postal codes of the sender and the receiver. There are five different rates, depending on the distance between the two partners: both in the same postal code (rate 1); both in the same province (rate 2); in different provinces but postal codes are adjoining (rate 3); the receiver is in the Northwest Territories or Nunavut (rate 4); none of the above (rate 5). The current rates range from $0.67 plus $0.10/kg or fraction thereof (for rate 1) to $1.66 plus $0.66/kg or fraction thereof (for rate 5).

Library Books Rate Codes
To determine the rate code applicable to a shipment of library books, use the first letter of the postal code of origin and the first letter of the postal code of destination from the following table. Once you have determined the rate code, find the applicable price in Library Books Prices below.

(Canada Post Corporation, 2004d)

The rates are based on the postal code system. See Appendix C for a map of the Canadian postal code designations. A chart of the postal codes and corresponding rates is included below, with a detailed description of the rate codes from the Canada Post website.

Library Books Prices (Effective January 12, 2004)

Rate Code 1 (within code)
Where the postal outlet of mailing and the postal outlet of delivery have the same first letter in their respective postal code (e.g. if mailed in postal area “K” for delivery in area “K”), the price per item = $0.67 plus $0.10/kg or fraction thereof.
Rate Code 2 (within province/territory)
Where the postal outlet of mailing and the postal outlet of delivery are in the same province but do not have the same first letter in their respective postal code (e.g. if mailed in “K” for delivery in “L”,”M”, “N” or “P”), the price per item = $1.11 plus $0.15/kg or fraction thereof.
Rate Code 3 (adjoining postal code – out of province/territory)
Where the first letter of the postal code identifying the delivery office is in an adjoining area of the first letter of the postal code of the mailing office (e.g. if mailed in “P”, adjoining areas are “J” and “R”), the price per item = $1.11 plus $0.15/kg or fraction thereof.
Rate Code 4 (for delivery in the Northwest Territories/Nunavut)
Where the postal outlet of delivery is in the Northwest Territories/Nunavut and the postal outlet of mailing is in any province or in the Yukon Territory, the price per item = $1.66 plus $0.66/kg or fraction thereof.
Rate Code 5 (beyond the zones described in 1 to 4)
Where the postal outlet of mailing and the postal outlet of delivery are not in manner described in 1 to 4, the price per item = $1.66 plus $0.66/kg or fraction thereof.

(Canada Post, 2004d)

The rates have been increased 24 times since 1939, but there were no increases between 1939 and 1946, and none between 1946 and 1951, nor between 1951 and 1978. Since 1978, however, the rates have been increased almost yearly. The library community has often had trouble trying to get copies of new rate tables as there is no program in place to connect libraries and Canada Post (or even the Department of Canadian Heritage) in any official way. Short messages like the following, which appeared in the Canadian Library Association’s newsletter in 1993, are often the only indication that there has been a rate hike. Specific rates were not available on the Canada Post website until 2001.

A three per cent rise was implemented Mar 1 [1993] and Canadian libraries can expect further increases of five per cent, effective Mar. 1, 1994 and Mar. 1, 1995. Three per cent of that represents a real increase in costs, while the other two per cent is due to inflation.”

(Canadian Library Association, 1993)

Note that the specific rates are not given, just increased percentages. Since libraries have often had trouble keeping up with the rates, it is likely that announcements like these would not have helped them determine the appropriate rate.

(V) Who uses the LBR?

Our organization makes good use of the library rate. Our participation in provincial and national resource sharing initiatives is dependent on the reasonable rate for delivery.

(Chinook Arch Regional Library, Alberta
From the September 1998 presentation to Canadian Heritage by ASTED, CLA, NLC)

As stated above in the definition of the Library Book Rate on the Canada post website, the LBR can be used by public libraries, academic libraries, and other libraries maintained by non-profit organizations. The Canada Post definition of a library is “a place where literary, musical, artistic, or reference materials are kept for use but not for sale such as public libraries, university libraries, and libraries maintained by non-profit organizations or associations for use by the general public in Canada” (Archive No. 255). Libraries that meet this definition are eligible to apply to use the LBR. (The only libraries that are not eligible are certain special libraries that operate in for-profit corporations.) Applications are made at local postal outlets. There is no central registry system.

An overview of a typical user of the library book rate was identified in a September 1998 presentation to Canadian Heritage by ASTED, CLA, NLC (Archive No. 265):

  • 74 percent of users are public or regional libraries
  • 91 percent of users have used it for more than 3 years
  • 74 percent send fewer than 999 parcels per year
  • 90 percent have increased their usage in the last 5 years

According to a 2002 study of the library book rate, public libraries make the greatest use of the rate, with a 94 percent rate of usage. Only 62 percent of academic libraries use the rate, and there are no statistics available yet to estimate use by special libraries. (The response rate of special libraries was too low in the 2002 study to be statistically significant.)

The lower use of the rate by academic libraries is likely due to the fact that patrons of academic libraries often need to receive their materials as quickly as possible. Also, academic libraries have other delivery options that are faster, and these libraries are perhaps not as limited financially as public libraries. It may also be that academic libraries can pass the fees onto the user, which enables them to use faster, more expensive delivery options. Public libraries, on the other hand, often do not have the luxury of choice, although local- or wide-area dedicated library courier services are becoming more popular.

Lack of use can also be attributed to lack of information. Special libraries, in particular, are often not aware that they are eligible to use the LBR. As long as the libraries are non-profit, and are open to the general public, they may make use of the LBR, according to the Canada Post definition. However, this lack of general information can also affect Canada Post employees, who sometimes contest the fact that certain special libraries are allowed to use the rate.

In addition, special libraries are also not as likely to offer interlibrary loan services or be connected to a wider area network. This is probably the main reason for both the lack of responses to the LBR survey in 2002 and the lack of use of the rate itself by special libraries.

A two-week survey in 2002 discovered that the highest use of the LBR was found in small, rural or remote libraries, often in the western provinces. The western provinces have widely embraced regional library systems, and are thus more likely to share resources within a large-area group. Furthermore, many libraries in those provinces offer online interlibrary loan applications, which naturally increases demand for ILL, leading to an increased use of the LBR.

(VI) How is the LBR used?

The library rate postage is a valuable asset for public libraries. Costs for ILL and mail-out services to the homebound and rural users would be much higher without the library rate and would probably mean a reduction of these programs.

(Halifax Regional Library, Nova Scotia
From the September 1998 presentation to Canadian Heritage by ASTED, CLA, NLC (Archive No. 265))

According to a survey undertaken by the Canadian Library Association, l’Association pour l’avancement des sciences et des techniques de la documentation (the French counterpart of CLA), and the National Library of Canada in 1998, while the library book rate is used mainly for interlibrary loan (90-93 percent) and basic outreach purposes (12 percent), it is also used to distribute materials to distance education students (10 percent) and to send a deposit collection of books to rural communities (12 percent).

The 1998 study went on to say that ILL programs at small public libraries are dependent on the Library Book Rate. However, the LBR is only used in approximately 15-19 percent of ILL requests (for all libraries).

The 2002 study further clarified that the LBR is used for interlibrary loans, sending books to citizens who are disabled or unable to come to the library, providing source material for distance education classes, or sending books to people living in rural locations (of which Canada has many). During a two week sampling period, this study concluded that 39.9 percent of the LBR books are sent to branches within the same library system, 49.3 percent are sent to external libraries, and 10.8 percent are sent to individuals. The authors of the study noted that since many libraries in Canada’s western provinces are amalgamated into regional library systems, the lines of definition between the first group (sending to branches in the same library) and the second (sending to external libraries) may be blurred.

In addition to interlibrary loans, many libraries offer “books by mail” services to their patrons. Many rural libraries in Canada serve a population that is thinly spread out over a very large area. Rather than creating many small branch libraries in low population areas, the libraries set up a system where the users can order books and other library materials from a catalogue that is updated and sent out regularly by a central processing office. Books by mail programs make good use of the LBR and since most are run by small, rural libraries, they would probably not be able to continue if the LBR were abolished.

The 1998 study of the Library Book Rate sampled a selection of libraries over a two week period to come up with the following usage rates for the individual codes:

  • Rate 1 = 80.1 percent
  • Rate 2 = 7.51 percent
  • Rate 3 = 3.44 percent
  • Rate 4 = 8.7 percent
  • Rate 5 = 0.25 percent

It can be seen that Rate code 1 is used in the vast majority of cases, followed by 4, 2, 3, and 5. In fact, since codes 2 and 3 have had identical rates since 1989, and since codes 4 and 5 have had identical rates since 2002 (and since code 5 doesn’t appear to be used very often), it would probably be a good idea to amalgamate codes 2 and 3 and codes 4 and 5, making a simpler 3-code system.

(VII) What are the problems with the LBR?

A number of studies have been done on the Library Book Rate and they have all revealed similar problems with the LBR.

In the 1993 Consultation Document (Archive No. 176), the following problems were noted.

  • It is not understood well by libraries.
  • There is no coordinated program to publicize it and educate qualified participants.
  • Registering to use the LBR involves dealing with local Canada Post employees who are not familiar with the program and confuse it with the publishers’ book rate.
  • While delivery standards are equivalent to Canada Post’s Parcel Post Service, the perception is that performance rarely meets these standards and is variable and unreliable.
  • Service is generally considered too slow for academic and business needs.

In the 1998 Survey of the Library Book Rate, the rate of satisfaction with the rate was found to be 96 percent, despite the fact that 79 percent reported having difficulties with the implementation and 66 percent felt that it could be improved. Specific suggestions for improvement included educating local postal staff about the rates, creating up-to-date user manuals for libraries, and allowing the inclusion of non-book materials. Faster delivery times were also requested.

Sadly, the 2002 Study echoed the problems identified in the earlier studies, and added a few new concerns.

  • The biggest problem is with restriction to print-materials.
  • The rate structure is too complicated.
  • It is not fully understood by all library and post office staff, so mistakes are often made in calculating rates.
  • There is not a lot of official information available about the policy. It is just mentioned as a part of the PAP on the Heritage site, and then included in the postal manual for CPC

In fact, the rate structure is not only complicated but it has been changed six times since the LBR’s inception. At first, when the rate came into existence in 1939, it was based on weight alone and only had specific rates for the first pound and then for any additional pounds. The second system, initiated in 1978, tied the rate to 3rd or 4th class parcel rates and set out a 10-code system for deciding the specific rates. This was the most complicated system by far. The third system elaborated on the second by identifying the specific rates for portions of a pound (in ounces). The fourth system was quite similar to the third, but was documented in kilograms, as Canada switched to the metric system. (The metric system was officially legalized in Canada in 1871, officially adopted by the government in 1970, and many standard measures were converted during the 1970s. Some measures remain in inches and pounds to this day.) The fifth system tied the rates to the 4th class parcel rates. Finally, the sixth and current system, initiated in 1989 separated the LBR from standard parcel rates and gave it an independent rate system made up of 5 rate codes. However, codes 2 and 3 have been identical since the rate code system was introduced in 1989 and Codes 4 and 5 were reversed in 1996, reversed back in 1999, and reversed again 2004 after being made equivalent in 2002. Details of the rate increases and system changes can be seen in Appendix D (Library Book Rate – Historical Rates).

In addition, the LBR is always in danger of being rescinded and it is susceptible to changes in the PAP although it is not actually that closely related to PAP at all. It is impossible to find information about LBR on PAP-related documents, other than basic definitions of the program and perhaps a mention of the cost.

Not all of the problems are attributable to Canada Post. In the 1998 survey, a college library described an additional dimension of problems with the LBR:

We have been trying to get prepaid return address labels for a year. Canada Post says we are already registered and just go ahead, but the College insists that we are not, and that they cannot/will not produce the labels. It would help if we had documentation to give the College.

(September 1998 presentation to Canadian Heritage by ASTED, CLA, NLC (Archive No. 265))

An LBR briefing document (Archive No. 323) also mentions certain issues with the Department of Canadian Heritage. The department doesn’t always let the library community know when negotiations have started for a new memorandum of agreement, or when the negotiations have finished and a new contract has been signed. Also, only a very limited amount of information trickles down to CLA, ASTED, and the National Library regarding the progress of the negotiations. Because it is such a small part of the larger Publications Assistance Program, it is not always clear that the department recognizes the importance of the LBR to the library community. There is also a perceived reluctance to tackle some of the important issues of the LBR, such as requests to modernize the program by allowing the inclusion of non-book materials, and the idea that negotiations should not focus entirely on setting new rates and rate hike limits.

The problem of the lack of clear information about the rate shows the inherent Catch-22 of library book rate advocacy. If there were more information available on the LBR, more libraries would use it. If more libraries used it, the burden on Canada Post would be increased. If CPC’s burden is increased, it may decide to cancel the program or increase the rates. So, ironically, the lack of information is actually probably helping to support the existence of the rate.

B History of the Library Book Rate

(I) When was the LBR initiated?

The Library Book Rate was introduced in 1939 as a part of the Publications Assistance Program (which will be discussed in greater detail in the following section.) The exact details of how and why it came into being are, at present, a mystery, but its original goal was then, as it is today, to provide all Canadians with equal access to library books.

According to the 1982 study on Canada’s LBR, the rate was created to mimic US subsidization of library book mailings. The United States Congress created a special class for library books in 1928 after several decades of lobbying by various library-related groups (Lawson & Kielbowicz, 1988). Libraries experienced a period of growth during the late 1930s, and public spending on libraries grew sevenfold from 1937-57 (Bernard Ostry, The Cultural Connection, cited in Fuse Communications and Public Affairs & ASM Consultants, 2002), so it is indeed likely that somehow, someone in 1939 convinced the federal government to create a Canadian postal subsidy system for libraries that was based on the American system. If it were possible to discover the methods that the person (or more likely people) used and the length of time it took them to reach a successful conclusion, it would make a welcome addition to any study of the current LBR and/or advocacy techniques.

In the over sixty years since it came into existence, this policy has shown remarkable resistance to change. While the rates have increased 24 of times, the range of the policy has remained unchanged. The policy was created to subsidize the cost of transporting books, and it continues to fulfill that, and only that, requirement. The fact that the program has lasted this long is a credit to the library community as well as the forward-thinking people at the Department of Canadian Heritage, however the lack of expansion in the policy to include non-book formats can be seen as a failure of the advocacy efforts of the Canadian library community. This will be discussed in greater detail in the section on advocacy (Chapter 3).

(II) How has the LBR changed?

The rates and rate structure have undergone many changes over the years. The rates have increased 24 times and the structure of the rate system has changed 5 times (not including the four cases of category switching and re-wording from 1989 to 2004) making historical comparisons somewhat challenging. The rates changed from pounds to kilograms in 1979. (Canada officially adopted the Metric System in 1970 but it took a while for all governments and corporations to make the switch.) The postal department of the Canadian government became a crown corporation in 1981.

The following chart shows that increases in the LBR have basically kept pace with the rate of inflation, but that the LBR has faced more drastic increases than the first class postage rate (for letters) in recent years. (First class rates were used as a comparison because, as Canada Post does not have an official archives, it was difficult to locate the historical parcel rates.)

(First Class postal rates from Canadian Philately (2004)
Inflation rates from Bank of Canada (2004))

The LBR rate in this chart is based on a 1kg book being sent by rate code 1 or its equivalent. Inflation is relative to $0.06 in 1939 (the rate for sending one 1kg book by LBR at that time). The 1978 LBR was estimated from the 10-code system (Code 1 = K to K). The rates for the LBR between 1978 and 1988 are difficult to calculate because they were based on concurrent 4th class parcel rates, which were not able to be retrieved for this study.

See Appendices C (Map of the Postal Code System in Canada) and D (Library Book Rate – Historical Rates) for a more detailed look at the changes to the LBR since its inception in 1939.

C Legislation and Administration

(I) Who is involved in administering the LBR?

(II) What legislation exists about the LBR?

D Costs and Benefits

(I) What costs are involved in the LBR?

(II) Who benefits from the LBR?

E Future of the LBR

Chapter 3 — Library Advocacy in Canada

A Introduction

(I) The Need for Advocacy

(II) CLA as Interest Group

(III) Lobbyists’ Registration Act

B Players

(I) Canadian Library Association (CLA)

(II) National Library of Canada (NLC)

(III) Federal Government — Department of Canadian Heritage (PCH)

(IV) Canada Post Corporation (CPC)

C History of Advocacy Work on the LBR

(I) 1930s – 1950s

(II) 1960s

(III) 1970s

(IV) 1980s

(V) 1990s

(VI) 2000s

Chapter 4 — Analysis and Discussion

A Characteristics of Library Advocacy Work in Canada

(I) Non-Partisan

(II) Bureaucrats vs. Politicians

(III) Waves of Activity

(IV) The Champion

(V) The Written Word

(VI) Creative Endeavours Unique to the Champion

(VII) Research as Advocacy

(VIII) Coalitions

(IX) Use of Paid Lobbyist

(X) Reactive Rather than proactive

(XI) Education and On-The-Job Training

B Challenges to Library Advocacy Work in Canada

(I) Timing

(II) Dissent in the Library Community

(III) Communication

(IV) Inclusion, Information

(V) Too Many Canadas

(VI) Fatigue

(VII) Perceived Expense

(VIII) Positions Change Over Time

(IX) Working in the Political Arena

(X) Government as Moving Target

(XI) Who does what?

(XII) Defining Success

(XIII) The Need for Innovation

(XIV) Apolitical Nature of Libraries

Chapter 5 — Conclusions

A Summary

B Conclusions

C Future Research


A Published Sources

B Index of Primary Documents (From CLA, NLC, IPA Archives)


A Abbreviations

B Timeline of the Library Book Rate

C Map of the Postal Code System in Canada

D Library Book Rate – Historical Rates

Original System (1939-1978)

Second System (1978-1979)

Third System (1979)

Fourth System (1979-1985)

Fifth System (1985-1989)

Sixth System (1989-2004)

E Presidents and Executive Directors of the Canadian Library Association

F Letter to International Postal Organizations

A Canadian's View of Canada

This short essay was written after I returned from a research trip to Canada in 2004.

I could never understand why anyone would specialize in Canadian studies. Canada always seemed so boring to me. Everything is just so plain and simple there. Canadians think of themselves as being boring. We think that we have no accent and no particular culture. We think that British people have better accents than we do and Americans have worse. Ours is “basic”. I bet if you asked a Canadian to describe Canadian culture, you wouldn’t get a satisfying answer.
After living in Japan for almost a decade, however, I have come to see my own country more clearly. I have started to see Canada with foreign eyes. I notice things about my country that my fellow Canadians may take for granted.

Obviously, the Size

First of all, I noticed the size of the country. My trip included 5 stops (Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Victoria, Vancouver). One of my Japanese friends asked me whether I took a bus or a train to get to all those places. Naturally, I took airplanes. I would have spent the entire time on a bus or train if I had chosen to go that way. Trains are so convenient and efficient in Japan, but that kind of efficiency is just not possible in a country the size of Canada. I also noticed the fact that we have huge streets and huge areas of land that we do nothing with. And even the cities are not crowded. It is occasionally a bit squishy on the subway, but if you don’t travel on the trains, you might be surprised at how empty our cities are.

Libraries are More Modern, More Inviting, but the Librarians…

I noticed that libraries in Canada are bright, open, inviting – and busy. They are generally housed in splendid buildings and act as a focal point for the town’s scenery. They have modern collections and high-tech equipment. They often belong to regional or county systems, which allows them to spend more time on serving the patrons and less time on cataloging. (I did notice, however, that Canadian librarians can be a bit scowly.)

Your Mileage May Vary

When I first came to Japan, I was working in a junior high school in Tajima-machi, a small town in Fukushima prefecture. I attended the graduation ceremonies in April, and much to my surprise the ceremony at my school was taped for the NHK news that night. Or so I thought. Actually, the school that was on the news was somewhere in Kyushu (an island at the other end of Japan), but it looked so similar to what had happened in my school that day that I could have sworn it was my school. The gymnasium was the same, the layout of the chairs and dias were the same, and the red and white banner encircling the gym was the same.

In Canada, that would never happen. We seem to like re-inventing the wheel over and over again. Whereas you can trust things to be the same or similar in Japan, you can almost count on them to be different in Canada. For example, the political systems in each province are different. In Ontario, the provincial politicians are called “Members of Provincial Parliament” or MPPs. In Alberta, they are called “Members of Legislative Assembly” or MLAs. The Ministry of Culture looks after libraries in Ontario, but the Ministry of Community Development (known as just Community Development) looks after libraries in Alberta. Subsidization of libraries varies widely by province as does the success of advocacy efforts in each province (library advocacy was the topic of my master’s thesis, and the reason for this trip). Public transportation systems are even different. In Japan you can be fairly sure that all trains you ride will be on a destination-based fare. In Canada, some are based on distances, some on direction of travel, and others on the time of use.

West is Best?

There are a number of rivalries in Canada that are age-old and not likely to change. French vs. English, and therefore Ontario vs. Quebec, is an important one and the West vs. the rest of Canada is another. Things are very different in the east and the west. Standardized tests are common in the western provinces, and students generally graduate after grade 12. Ontario doesn’t have any standardized tests, and students until recently graduated after grade 13. This creates a rivalry in the education system. Furthermore, attitudes in the west can be somewhat rebellious. For example, Alberta libraries charge a fee for “membership” despite the fact that one of the basic tenets of librarianship (or so I thought) is that it be free for all. Alberta libraries vehemently defend their right to charge their patrons despite the opposition they face in the rest of the country. (One or two libraries have decided to drop the membership fee, but they are considered to be the black sheep of the Albertan library community.)

What Do You Think?

Canadian local government tries its best to be interactive. When the new Vancouver Public Library was being built, the city’s citizens were given the right to vote on the design. Every time a citizen checked books out of the library, her or she was given one vote. In this way, the public had input into the way their city would look.
When a new library was built in the Toronto Public Library system in 1995, the public was asked to contribute names. Around 170 names were received and the final decision was made by a citizen’s advisory committee.

Creative Solutions

Time spent sorting returned books is time not spent serving the public. Many libraries in Canada try to streamline the sorting system by getting the public to sort their own books. The Victoria Public Library has separate return boxes for books and audio/visual materials, while the Ottawa Public Library has three boxes: adult books, children’s books, and audio/visual.

“Fast reads” are books that are bestsellers, and often new. They are placed in a separate part of the library and are only lent for 7 days. In some libraries, patrons can buy extra days at $1 per day. These books have an incredibly fast turnaround so more patrons get a chance to read them.
Some public libraries in Canada have special collections. They have to make special rules for the patrons because despite the value and rarity of their collections, they have to make them open to the public – not just researchers.

My impression was that Canadians are not afraid to try new things. If they make a mistake or fail, they try something else. They don’t seem to be afraid of failure, but think of it more as a natural step in the process.

Casual vs Formal

Even very formal institutions are quite casual in Canada. I was given a great deal of freedom to collect data at the National Library and the Canadian Library Association. The rules are not very strict, or at least they can be re-interpreted as situations require.
Many libraries include cafes, often actually in the same area as the books. Libraries put up signs that say “don’t mess up the books” and that is it.

Who’s in Charge?

Libraries in both Canada and Japan receive most of their funding from the local government. However, the libraries in Canada have a much more distant relationship with the government. Libraries in Canada do not necessarily consider themselves to be a part of the local government, even though that is where most of their money comes from. Public libraries in Japan are often run by people who just happen to work for the local government (i.e. they don’t necessarily have the qualifications of a librarian).

Connections are the Key

When I tried to organize this trip it was difficult to make any definite plans because I didn’t know who would agree to meet me. At first it was a bit difficult to get people to commit to meeting with me. Then I met a woman at the OLA Superconference who changed all that. With her support, I was able to get meetings with some of the most powerful people in Canadian librarianship.

In Memory of…

Canadians are able to spend extra money on making beautiful buildings – probably because of private donations. The idea of donating money has not caught on in Japan – and that is probably one of the reasons that Japanese librarianship lags behind Canadian.

What I Can’t Figure Out…

Japan has WAY more money than Canada, but Canada’s libraries look better, have more professional staff, and may even be larger in size (per capita). Why is that?