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Policy on Librarian Classification and Salary Administration

Approved by Provost, July 1, 2006

DISCLAIMER: If there is a discrepancy between this electronic policy and the written copy held by the Policy owner, the written copy prevails.

This policy recognizes the role that McMaster librarians play in working with faculty and staff to carry out the missions of the University and its libraries. It recognizes that the creativity, teamwork, personal growth and service enshrined in those missions should be exhibited in the performance of both position specific responsibilities and in the professional activities by which the individual librarian can enrich the profession, the Library and the University.

POSITION RESPONSIBILITIES are those specified in the Position Responsibility Statement (PRS) for the position which the librarian holds.

PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES are not specifically stated in the PRS but are professional development, contribution and university/library service activities which include such things as: continuing education; teaching; research; publishing; participating in national, provincial or international professional organizations; serving on the committees of, and/or providing service to, the Library and/or the University.

While acknowledging the distinction between position responsibilities and professional activities, this policy is based upon the premise that both are contributions made by individual librarians combining them in daily practice. Further, accomplishment in one enhances accomplishment in the other. It follows that the most effective approach for librarians to develop themselves professionally, and for their performance to be evaluated, involves a consideration of two facets of the librarian integrated into a whole.  Consequently, this policy is based upon the identification of five levels of librarianship which involve increasing levels of both positional and professional accomplishment.

Levels I and II are developmental levels in which the librarian builds the positional and professional capabilities of librarianship. Level III is the career level for an experienced, professionally accomplished librarian. Achievement of level IV is contingent upon assuming a major administrative position and/or having a record of exceptional long term professional accomplishment. Level V is achieved by taking up a senior administrative position which requires broad experience and exceptional capabilities in both positional and professional roles. At all levels performance is to be judged on both the positional and professional criteria stated for the level and a single, holistic characterization derived.

One consequence of building this classification scheme around the person is that a single job, as traditionally defined, might be occupied by librarians at more than one level, receiving different levels of pay because of the different levels at which they perform their assigned tasks and the overall contribution they make to the library and/or the university.  An example of this for the position of reference librarian is shown in the addendum to this policy.

A number of administrative activities entailed in this policy are to be carried out by a Levels and Promotions Committee (LPC) which consists of individuals representing the viewpoints of both the librarians and the administration.



LIBRARIAN I is the level at which a professional career normally begins.  To qualify for an appointment to this level, the candidate shall have an M.L.S. or equivalent from an accredited institution, and show potential for successful performance in position responsibilities and professional development.

Librarians at this level are expected to learn the rules, policies and procedures of their individual department(s) and the University Library System as a whole, as well as to apply the theoretical knowledge acquired during the M.L.S. study. During this learning stage, assigned duties will be completed under guidance from the manager.

In addition, librarians at this level should begin taking part in professional development activities. Professional activities appropriate to this level may include joining library related professional organizations and/or attending library-related workshops and/or conferences.

Normally, a librarian would be in this level for two years.


LIBRARIAN II is the level at which significant growth is made in performance in position responsibilities and professional activities.  For appointment or promotion to this level, a candidate shall have a record of successful performance as a librarian and will have shown the capacity to develop and extend his/her professional and academic expertise.

Librarians at this level are expected to show increasing proficiency at their assigned duties, increasing capacity to work independently, and the beginnings of the development of expertise in specific areas. When performance is evaluated, the nature of the librarian’s position responsibilities will be considered, e.g. subject, area, or language specialization; supervisory or instructional responsibilities.

In addition, Level II librarians are expected to display increasing involvement in professional activities. Professional activities at this level may include, but are not limited to, some combination of the following:

  • service on committees of professional library-related organizations
  • presentation of papers or publications in scholarly or professional journals
  • service on Library and/or University committees not required as part of a librarian’s position
  • mentoring or otherwise contributing to the professional development of others

Normally, a librarian would be in this level from three to five years.


LIBRARIAN III is considered to be the career level for the majority of librarians.   To be considered for appointment or promotion to this level, the candidate must perform all aspects of his/her position effectively, with a proven ability to work independently and a demonstrated record of continuing professional development.

In addition, librarians will have:

  • assumed increased position responsibilities, such as: responsibility for a specific library process (e.g. reference, circulation, shelving, processing, acquisitions, systems, interlending, collection development, binding, etc.)
  • and/or have made a significant contribution to a departmental or library-wide project or initiative
  • and/or displayed a strong record of continuing professional development.

To be considered for promotion to this level, normally an individual will have been at the Librarian II level for at least three years.

Librarians at this level will perform duties requiring both extensive theoretical knowledge of librarianship and experience in applying that knowledge; display initiative and an ability to work independently; and contribute substantially through professional activities.

Professional activities at this level may include, but are not limited to, some combination of the following:

  • significant contributions to library and/or university committees
  • chairing of committees of professional library-related organizations
  • membership on the executive of regional or professional library-related organizations
  • further study and research in subject specializations as evidenced, for example, by the attainment of an additional degree at the Masters level


LIBRARIAN IV is the level at which a librarian assumes significant administrative responsibility for two or more discrete processes (eg. reference, circulation, shelving, processing, acquisition, systems, interlending, collection development, binding, etc.), and/or has been acknowledged by the LPC for his/her significant long-term professional accomplishments.

Librarians at this level will demonstrate excellence in the performance of their position responsibilities and continue to make outstanding contributions to the Library and/or the University, as well as the profession through their professional activities.

For promotion to this level on the basis of professional accomplishments, some combination of the following types of activities will normally be expected:

  • membership on the executive of national or international professional libraryrelated organizations
  • outstanding scholarly contributions in the form of widely recognized research publications and/or presentations
  • advanced study and research in library and/or subject specialization, as evidenced, for example, by the attainment of a degree at the doctoral level
  • significant professional/scholarly awards


LIBRARIAN V is the level at which librarians undertake senior administrative responsibilities.   This level is reserved for very senior administrators (e.g. Associate University Librarian). In addition to holding the specific qualifications required for the position, a librarian at this level requires evidence of a record of excellent performance with demonstrated initiative, creativity, leadership, and management skills.

Librarians at this level will continue to make an outstanding contribution to the Library, the University, and the profession through their professional activities.



A number of activities involved in the procedures described in this section will be carried out by the Levels and Promotions Committee (LPC). Its roles include: the review of job postings, the assignment of levels or ranges of levels to job postings, the determination of

levels for successful applicants, and the review of submissions for promotions from levels I through IV. A librarian can apply for promotion while serving on the LPC. When the application of a serving member is under consideration by the LPC, that member must withdraw from the meeting and be replaced by the former member of the same representation who most recently left the Committee.

The LPC will be comprised of:

  • two librarians, one of whom will always be from the Health Sciences Library, both of whom will be elected by all MUFA librarians for three year terms
  • one faculty member appointed by the Provost for a three year term
  • one librarian appointed by the University Librarian for a three year term
  • the Human Resources Consultant for the University Library (ex-officio)

The LPC will elect its own chair. The Chair shall have at least one year of experience on the Committee.


When a position becomes vacant or a new position is created, the manager and the Human Resources Consultant will prepare a preliminary posting. Once a posting has been approved by the University Librarian or the Director, Health Sciences Library, it will be forwarded to the LPC to review and determine the specific level or range of levels to be attached to the position.

Once an individual has been selected for a position, the LPC will confirm the individual’s level based upon his/her previous work experience and record of professional activity.

At the time of appointment, each librarian will be furnished with a copy of the current Policy on Librarian Classification and Salary Administration.


Performance review and development is a collaborative process, involving a meeting or series of meetings between the librarian and the manager in order to assess performance and agree on goals for the coming year. The results of this collaborative process will be documented and submitted using the Librarian Annual Performance Review Form. The manager will then assign a performance rating, covering both position responsibilities and professional activities. The completed and signed form and the manager’s performance rating will be forwarded to the appropriate divisional director for review and comment, before being passed to the Library’s Human Resources Office.

At all five levels librarian performance is to be judged on both position responsibilities and professional activities.

In evaluating the performance of librarians at levels I to III, the relative weighting of position performance to professional activity performance is normally at a ratio of approximately 75% to 25%. In some years, on an exceptional basis, the librarian and his/her manager may agree to adjust the normal 75%/25% split to enable the librarian to participate in a major departmental and/or library project. This agreement should be made at the time when the librarian agrees to participate in the project and a Librarian Agreement to Temporarily Alter Weighting should be completed.

At levels IV and V, the balance between positional and professional performance is more fluid since, in such positions, the professional activities component may become more closely associated with position responsibilities.

Prior to or during the process of performance review, a peer could be consulted as appropriate. This consultation can be initiated by the manager or the librarian.

Given that this policy envisions librarians at different levels performing the same responsibilities, (as illustrated in the addendum) it is imperative that performance evaluation for each librarian focuses clearly on the performance criteria for the librarian’s level. For example, a level of performance which would be considered exceptionally good for a level III librarian would be the expected norm for a level IV librarian, and the annual performance rating should reflect this.


A librarian who wishes to be promoted from level I to II, or from level II to III, will submit to the LPC a request for promotion which includes the documentation outlined in the Promotion Application Guidelines for Librarians. The LPC will evaluate the request using the criteria specified for each level in this policy document.

Librarians at Level I can apply for promotion once they have been granted a continuing appointment. If the initial application is denied, applications may be resubmitted every six months.

Librarians at Level II and III may apply for promotion no more than once in a twelve month period, unless significant change in position responsibilities has occurred.

There are two routes for promotion to level IV: assumption of a major administrative position and/or successful application to the LPC on the basis of exceptional long term accomplishments. Promotion to level IV, if based on administrative responsibilities, will normally come as the result of successful application for a special position.

Promotion to level V will normally come as the result of assuming administrative responsibility for a broad spectrum of library functions or services. The position responsibilities and accountabilities for level V positions will be determined by the University Librarian and/or The Director of the Health Sciences Library.

All decisions concerning promotion will be formally communicated in writing to the librarian by the Library’s Human Resources Consultant.

ADDENDUM: This addendum illustrates how a set of “generic” position responsibilities might be performed by a librarian moving through levels I to III.

Position Responsibilities for Reference Librarian:

  • gives instruction in the use of catalogues, reference tools, and electronic resources
  • answers reference questions and advises patrons on research strategies
  • conducts library tours and instruction sessions
  • compiles bibliographies, reference aids and class guides
  • provides service in other reference areas as required
  • verifies interlending requests
  • develops collections for assigned reference subject areas (as appropriate)
  • contributes to other projects and committees

As performed by Librarian I:

  • A Level I Librarian spends a great deal of preliminary time familiarizing her/himself with the reference collection in all its formats and in learning the policies and procedures of the Reference Services unit.
  • Initially, time spent on the reference desk is usually in the company of a more experienced staff member, especially on evenings or weekends.
  • Library tours and instruction sessions will be already scripted or the librarian’s own script will be developed in consultation with colleagues.
  • Projects involving bibliographies, reference aids and class guides will be undertaken in consultation with colleagues.
  • The librarian will be assigned a subject area for collection development and will work with the Reference Services Manager to develop strategies for maintaining an appropriate collection.

As performed by Librarian II:

  • A Level II Librarian will be expected to work on the reference desk independently and will consult with his/her colleagues on difficult research problems. He/She develops in-depth expertise in a particular subject area.
  • Bibliographies, reference aids and class guides will be assigned in more broadly based terms, with the end-results reviewed for effectiveness.
  • The librarian will be expected to devise his/her own general and subject-specific tours and instruction sessions in consultation with colleagues.
  • Collection development responsibilities will be undertaken with more independence.

As performed by Librarian III:

  • A Level III Librarian is a senior member of the Reference team and is the expert in at least one particular area of reference service.
  • The librarian has taken on responsibility for coordinating one aspect of reference service (e.g. instruction, virtual reference, e-learning).
  • The librarian is independently responsible for the quality of the reference collection in his/her assigned subject area. He/She will be able to advise the Reference Services Manager on the priority of this collection area within the context of Library-wide collection policies and University course requirements.
  • The librarian will be expected to head project teams with general guidelines given for the expected result of the project.

Approved by Provost
July 1, 2006