Daily Archives: March 2, 2007

Job Hunts In Two-Faculty Households

The following guest post was contributed to ACRLog by a colleague who prefers to remain anonymous. The ACRLog team thanks this individual for submitting the post:

One of the first things I read after I woke up this morning was an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled “Two Careers, One Job Offer” by a pseudonymous Ph.D. who last month decided with her husband to turn down his job offer at an institution that happens to have a program in his field but not hers. Not that extraordinary, I supposed, until I read further to discover that her husband’s search committee went to such lengths as arranging meetings between her and “more department heads than I would have guessed could exist at the university.” Even though they didn’t have a position in her field, they tried to find her a fit. Still, no solution presented itself. “In the end, the university could offer me little more than an office and an affiliation. It also offered a year’s salary and assurances that it would work hard to keep helping me.” After some soul-searching by the author and great effort by the search committee, the couple decided, as her husband told her, that “this isn’t good enough for you.”

I had not even experienced caffeine at this point in the morning. But I was alert enough to know something was amiss. You see, my spouse and I are both librarians with academic backgrounds. Indeed, we have always known that in order for us both to have viable careers in our chosen profession, we must consider only those institutions with multiple libraries or with other nearby academic institutions. When we have had the opportunity for one of
us to apply to work in the other’s library, we’ve decided (wisely, we think) not to insert our own relationship into the workplace.

We have found it odd over the years when we’ve heard of institutions helping to find jobs for spouses of non-librarian faculty, while we’ve experienced only well wishes when a spouse is dealing with layoffs, temporary jobs, low pay, no benefits, and/or abusive supervisors. We haven’t even been able to get interviews for clerical jobs within those institutions. The funny thing is that we’ve expected nothing more. As I read through the article this morning, I was shocked at the sense of entitlement that the author (a new Ph.D.) seemed to feel. What puzzles me most is the idea that an office, an affiliation, and a year’s salary are not good enough to satisfy this entitlement which is expected when one’s spouse is offered a faculty position.

In every academic librarian position we’ve held, we have been full members of the faculty. Of course, there are always hints from other faculty and administrators that librarians aren’t “real faculty.” But it has never hit home like it did this morning. If this is the way it really operates for “real faculty,” we librarians must have a lot of catching up to do. When we get offers for library faculty positions, should we be negotiating, not only for moving expenses or conference travel funds, but also for customized faculty positions for our partners? Somehow I think we’d be laughed off the campus.

After reading this, I never needed the caffeine today.