Daily Archives: January 5, 2006

MLA Engages Tenure, Scholarly Communication Issues

For those who haven’t followed the various reports from the recently-completed annual meeting of the MLA, there were interesting discussions of re-thinking tenure requirements for faculty in the Humanities and of the role of digital scholarship as a route to tenure. An overview can be found in today’s Inside Higher Education.

As with Andersen’s Digital Scholarship in the Tenure, Promotion, and Review Process (2004), the fact that this discussion is coming from within a discipline suggests an opportunity for the academic librarian to act as an advocate and a resource for innovation in scholarly communication.

Academic Administrators: Beware If A Librarian Is On Your Search Committee

Once again, academic librarians get no respect. I came across this quote in an article in today’s online version of the Chronicle . It’s from a disgruntled job seeker who’s been the “faux finalist” for one too many searches. This refers to an institution that has already decided to hire an internal candidate, and the interview process is just a sham held to document that the search was truly open to all. The author (a pseudonym is given) seeks to provide a public service to other academic administrators by providing the warning signs that one is probably a faux finalist. Here’s the offending one:

It all starts with the search committee. Beware if it’s filled with people who have no campus authority, such as untenured faculty members, librarians, nonacademic administrators, or anyone hired only a few months ago. If it is, that’s a signal that the more senior people with real clout have better things to do with their time. If the search were truly open, then deans and top administrators would want to have some influence over the decision.

Admittedly, we don’t wield the same power as a dean or vice-president, but this strikes me as an extension of an unfortunate stereotype to suggest that academic librarians have no campus authority. I guess we do nothing all day but sit around and read books, which makes us ideal participants for sham search committees so we can ask polite questions like, “So what books have you read lately?”. I suppose like all the negative stereotypes we encounter it is best to have a sense of humor about it, and to simply do what we can each day on the job and in our relationships with our academic colleagues to dispel ridiculous notions about who we are and what we contribute to the academic enterprise.