December 17, 2009
Parker on Tenure for Academic Law Librarians
Carol Parker, Law Library Director and Keleher Professor of Law, University of New Mexico Law Library, and former LLB contributing editor recently posted the following two articles on SSRN.
Abstract: This article examines what is required of law librarian tenure candidates and their directors and supervisors to bring a tenure track to a successful conclusion. It is the second of two articles examining the effect of tenure opportunities on academic law librarians, their law libraries, and the profession of law librarianship. Its intended audience is tenure candidates, and directors and supervisors who oversee the tenure process. Tenure candidates must regularly engage in self-reflection, personally assess their progress, and seek feedback from directors and supervisors throughout the tenure-track period. Candidates should be prepared to invest the time and effort that will be necessary to excel as an academic law librarian. Candidates must master the concept of shared governance and understand the institutional culture of their library. Library directors serve a role similar to that of a department chair or a dean during the tenure process. Directors must provide adequate support to candidates, ensure equitable policies and procedures are in place, and apply them consistently and fairly. Regular meetings with tenure track librarians to check on their progress and to provide feedback are essential. Directors must be prepared to address performance problems that arise during a tenure track.
Abstract: This article examines tenure requirements currently in use in academic law libraries in the United States. It is one of two articles examining the effect of tenure opportunities on rank-and-file academic law librarians, their law libraries, and the profession of law librarianship. Its intended audience is library directors and other leaders within the profession of academic law librarianship. The article reports data gathered in an August 2009 survey of law libraries that currently provide tenure or continuous appointment opportunities for academic law librarians. To provide context, this article revisits faculty status and how it can naturally lead to law librarians having opportunities to attain tenured status. The article also considers the ideal of tenured status—what benefits are gained by the tenure system and what is meant by the concept of academic freedom which underpins justification of tenure generally. It identifies various tenure tracks for librarians and the standards for performance under which law librarians are currently reviewed, promoted to progressively higher rank, and awarded tenure. Finally, it recommends that library directors and other leaders within the profession make a concerted effort to encourage law libraries to employ more uniform and consistently rigorous standards for assessing law librarian performance for tenure or continuous appointment, and to develop more robust programs for encouraging librarian scholarship. Failing to do so can only weaken arguments that law librarians should continue to hold faculty status, and be able to attain tenured status, well into the future.