My Opinion on the firing of WPL Chief Librarian Cathy Matyas


I would like to add my voice to those questioning the dismissal of the Waterloo Public Library’s Chief Librarian, Cathy Matyas. I’ve been watching/reading all the news I can get on the issue. I can’t think, in all my over 40-year involvement with Ontario public libraries, 22 years employed by the provincial ministry administering the Public Libraries Act, of a similar “firing without cause.”

Mayor Halloran has confirmed the over-125-year principle in Ontario that public library boards, though municipal bodies, are separate and arm’s-length from the municipal council, when questioned on the firing. However just recently Mayor Halloran said cash to cover a hiring consultant and perhaps some of the compensation in lieu of notice will come from a city reserve fund. This is enabling the library board in its decision.

I am puzzled by Jackson summarily firing Matyas after having served as chair for seven years and having had no problems with her, apparently, in all those years. Why fire the chief librarian just before he himself goes? The firing and its substantial cost becomes his legacy to the library. Could it be a personal issue over the powers of the chair versus the powers of the chief librarian? The Public Libraries Act states that the chief librarian has general supervision over and direction of the operations of the library and its staff,
not the chair.

The firing isn’t illegal, but in my opinion not to provide, at the very least, Cathy herself, with a reason, is morally wrong. No matter what an employee does, you don’t fire them without warning or giving them a chance to improve or come around. After seven very successful years, Cathy Matyas deserves a good reason if the board is going to fire her. The library board also needs to show staff and Waterloo taxpayers how this firing and new direction is in their best interests

I agree with Kim Jernigan: I too am “hoping it is not too late for the library board to revisit this ill-considered decision” and reinstate Cathy Matyas. Mayor Halloran also has some reconsidering to do. Undertaking to fund the search for a new chief librarian and pay what
is likely to be substantial compensation in lieu of notice from municipal reserve funds implies tacit approval of and support for the library board’s decision.

Update one year after: Turns out Jackson and Matyas lost confidence in each other over each others opinion on a hot municipal issue. When that happens one must go and it is usually the Chief librarian and not the Board Chair who is the one to go.

About thebows99krug

Hi, I am Eric, a retired librarian. I was born in St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto and raised in the downtown area north of the Art Gallery, south of the University of Toronto. I went to Orde Street Public School, Harbord C.I., University College at the UofT and the UofT's Faculty of Library and Information Science. I meet my wife Patricia at FLIS; our first date was on November 15, 1968. We were engaged February 14, 1969 and married on June 21, 1969. Our family includes son, James; daughter-in-law, Erin; (both writers), grand-daughters, Vivian and Eleanor; and Pooka, a small but fierce gray tabby. I would like to hear from any other class of '63 alumni of Harbord C.I. and class of '67 alumni of UofT's University College.
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