Monday, April 13, 2009

Faculty or Administrative Status for Librarians

More Bradford pears in bloom

One aspect of professional life as an academic librarian that has confused me for a while is whether a librarian should be classified as faculty or administration. Frankly, librarians are neither: As much instruction as we provide, we are not in the classrooms as much as professors, and although the library is a support service, we are not really comparable to the registration office or the bursar. Our profession requires at least one master's degree, which implies specialty in a field, but no teaching experience. We have to be knowledgeable about learning resources and curriculum, but have not traditionally been in charge of recruitment or retention. Faculty librarians are typically expected to perform research that contributes to their field; administrators are not necessarily. Administrators work when the semester is not in session; faculty often have more flexibility. You could make the case that we serve everyone and are at least incidentally involved in all aspects of a college, but in reality we are far more visible in some places than others, and it seems to vary whether our primary focus is on the students or the institution.

Librarians should really have our own category, but this only seems to matter when a contentious issue divides the faculty and the administration, with librarians stuck in the middle trying to choose which side to be on. And that never happens, right?

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