“There is more to life than work” – Gen X Faculty and U

This morning’s IHE brings us a report on emergent characteristics of Gen X professors, which brings some of the familiar characterizations of my generation into the study of faculty life. It turns out, for example, that we value transparency in the tenure and promotion process and the teaching component of academic life. Radical ideas!

As I read this report, I had two thoughts:

  1. this study seems somewhat “behind” the discussions we’ve had in the library community about Gen X professionals – likely because it takes longer to become credentialed and employed in an academic department than it does to do so in the library world; and,
  2. the fact that this study seems to bring key elements of the characterization of Gen X students into that of Gen X faculty members reinforces the importance of how we relate to the current generation of undergraduate students.

That is, if many of the characterizations that we (and others) have made about Millennial students and their relationship to the library (and, more broadly, to their information environment) carry forward in the same way, then we had really better focus our efforts on thoughtful transformation if we don’t want to read a report in 5-8 years telling us how Gen Y professors do or do not value the library.

2 thoughts on ““There is more to life than work” – Gen X Faculty and U”

  1. I had two thoughts too. Them younguns want a life. Hey, what a great idea! Can I have one too? (Seriously, this is good news. They want to be able to balance teaching and research and having a life that’s not so hectic they can’t do either well. Score one for their students.)

    Second thought: if the new faculty we’re hiring think it’s ridiculous to churn out papers and books as if that’s the only measure of their worth, we’ve just found allies, since we’d really rather not have to buy the stuff that’s churned out for all the wrong reasons. And if they can focus on publishing some thoughtful, thorough, and high-quality research rather than thin-slicing everything just so they can have a publishing record, we’ll all be better off. Even the older scholars trying to keep up.

  2. Right on Barbara!

    It is amazing to consider the amount of innovation that happens (and can happen) in the library as a result of “outside” activities and interests. This also ties into support for professional development, sabbaticals, and educational leave.

    Ultimately, I feel more empowered and refreshed when I know I have the freedom and support to occassionally pursue non-Library interests. There is even the potential for these interests to translate into a more knowledgeable, worldly, and happier person. This takes on greater importance when applied to reference staff or other public service library staff. Furthermore, it is no secret that librarianship attracts individuals who see value in interdisciplinary study and research. By encouraging outside-the-box pursuits and indulging hobbies and personal interests, I see myself as a happier – and more enthusiastic – educator.

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