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Amused Muse

Inspiring dissent and debate and the love of dissonance

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Master's Degree holder, telecommuting from the hot tub, proud Darwinian Dawkobot, and pirate librarian belly-dancer bohemian secret agent scribe on a mission to rescue bloggers from the wholesome clutches of the pious backstabbing girl fridays of the world.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Library Faculty: "Heated, Often Personal Debates"

I just had a run-in online (don't ask) and got accused of reacting "emotionally" to being identified with a YEC IDist. Well, I'm not a scientist, but that was really unfair, and scientists never get emotional when their ideas are shot down, of course. (Ever gone to a convention? I did back in college - mercifully for only a few hours. The proceedings are almost inert, but break into small groups and start debating - eeeaauuughh! I'm sorry to say that it turned me off, because now I realize that probably every conference in every field is the same.)

Now I'm trying to get back to work and for my paper (yes, I really have a paper to write) I'm reading about the question of whether or not librarians in academic institutions deserve faculty status.

Few issues inspire such heated debate among academic librarians as the issue of faculty status. A recent example is Blaise Cronin's article, "The Mother of All Myths," in which Cronin calls library faculty status a "mockery of the professorate" and generally asserts that librarians have no place in "the academic calling." This article met with numerous letters to the editor in subsequent issues of Library Journal. Mark Herring agreed with Cronin, saying that tenure turns librarians' minds to "muddle." Others felt that Cronin was relegating librarians to the status of "contented handmaidens" and "'the help' on campus." Stephen Karetzky wrote that Cronin's definition of faculty status implied that Cronin himself should abdicate his professorship. Lisa Dunn wrote that Cronin's assessment was "overgeneralized and politically naïve." Even Robert Eno, a colleague of Cronin (both are professors at Indiana University, Bloomington) and president of the local chapter of the American Association of University Professors, wrote to disagree with Cronin. The debates are heated and often personal [emphasis mine].
--D.B. Hoggan. (2003). Faculty status for librarians in higher education. Portal: Libraries and the Academy, 3(3), 431-445.

No kidding!

We don't relinquish any legitimacy in our arguments because we get hot under the collar for being called a name. (In my case, a particularly insulting name.) It seems that librarians get called names, too - with the requisite assumptions, about how you are individually because you happen to be a woman, thrown in. Oh, goodie.

Many librarians believe that faculty status provides a higher level of stature and recognition within the university community than does staff status. Librarians who do research are thought to have better relationships with other faculty on campus. Thus, faculty-status librarians may find it easier to win the respect of faculty in other departments. A good rapport with the faculty is important because the effective teaching of information literacy skills is facilitated by collaboration between librarians and professors.

Ironically, while many librarians view faculty status as an asset to the professional's reputation, others feel that it detracts from the librarian's image. Blaise Cronin writes that faculty status seems "petty and vainglorious" to outsiders and that the justifications for faculty status are "downright embarrassing." However, the majority of published opinions support the idea that faculty status improves the stature and image of academic librarians.

God damn it. The stereotype of the elderly spinster who ended up as a librarian because she (it's always a she) couldn't get a man is childish. When are we going to revise this ridiculous misconception? I'm thinking of going into technical services and/or online system development and/or digital archiving and/or science reference librarianship. These fields have largely been dominated by men.

(Grad school is one of the few places where I end up in a room with a bunch of women. I was at an orientation, and one speaker made reference to "Dr." Phil. "And we all love Dr. Phil, don't we?" The students yelled, "Yes!" I yelled, "No!" I mean, what is that? Can't I even escape from so-called female pop culture at grad school?)

I'm looking forward to my first ALA conference! :-D

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Blogger Meg Kribble said...

I was at an orientation, and one speaker made reference to "Dr." Phil. "And we all love Dr. Phil, don't we?" The students yelled, "Yes!" I yelled, "No!"

Ugh!! What a nightmare.

October 13, 2007 8:30 PM  
Blogger breakerslion said...

You mean you're not all evil militant Lesbians out to take over the world through the control of information? I'll have to tell the Rotarians that thier intelligence reports might have been "sexed up". The planned counter-insurgency measures might be unnecessary. All that planning and they could have just had a pancake breakfast instead! This news is going to shake up a lot of people. Heads will roll!

As an IT person who was once employed by a college, and taught at a college, but was considered "staff", I'm not really sure where I stand on the whole policy of tenure. It has both good and bad results. As an underappreciated professional, I can identify with the stereotyping and lack of respect some people no doubt show to librarians. These people are assholes, and so is Dr. Phil.

Good luck with your paper!

October 14, 2007 8:53 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Ugh!! What a nightmare.

Yeah, I couldn't believe it.

The only reason Dr. Phil is famous is because of Oprah - and because he made his money working for Exxon after the Valdez oil spill (remember that? They've never paid a cent for that spill).

I'm not really sure where I stand on the whole policy of tenure

I'm not sure where I stand, either. But I do think at least some librarians at research institutions deserve faculty status. From my reading, it seems that liberal arts colleges grant this the most, and research institutions the least.

The people who have these librarian stereotypes are so pervasive, Breakerslion! Gawd, it's everywhere! "Shhhh, ha ha." Ugh. "So you're going to be the woman behind that desk?" [points to reference librarian at downtown Minneapolis public library] No! I don't want to work in a public library - unless I'm with Technical Services!

It's like when people found out I majored in English Literature - "So, you want to teach?" "Do you write romance novels?"

October 14, 2007 11:48 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Actually, I've been wondering if there's a market for atheist romance novels. ;-)

October 14, 2007 11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OF COURSE academic librarians should have tenure. What librarian would take on any controversial issue, keep any book on the shelves, subscribe to any periodical, keep records of patron's requests away from warrant-less searches, write about funding (the lack of), challenge or reject "donations" from RR flacks and front groups?

Tenure at secondary and post-secondary institutions is mandatory if academic freedom has any meaning.

Tenure is mandatory in Medical School and Law School libraries. The ABA/AALS accreditation standards require law schools to have library directors who hold both M.L.S. and J.D. degrees. Medical school libraries don't require MLS/MD - but they do require that the librarians have solid hard science degrees as well as the MLS.

The Chronicle of Higher Education strongly supports tenure in academic librarians - and, we need professional researchers to teach our pathetic HS grads how to use a library - thanks to NCLB.

October 14, 2007 12:24 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

I'm really interested in how NCLB has affected the library use of students, Anonymous. Was this as big an issue before (because of Google, television, etc.), or had there been a marked decline since NCLB?

I do a literature search on this but I'm swamped by schoolwork.

October 15, 2007 11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The NCLB does not test "research skills" - hence, a certified secondary school librarian has no value to the school district as the skill set does not teach to the test. It is a learning skill - but it it detracts from time spent teaching NCLB courses.

The fact of the matter was that my client was not using her librarian certification - but, prior to NCLB, holding the 6 certifications that she did and the two Master's and 3 Bachelor's degrees bumped up the district's overall accreditation where the state divided the number of teaching staff into the number of degrees and factored in multiple certifications.

My client went from a major value to the district (and, had a $48k+ pay package) to useless in about 1 year. NCLB has no dog in the hunt for Adult Ed (albeit that the State's Constitution does not define "adult" as an adult until the age of 22 and most "adult ed" students were under 22) - and neither does NCLB have an interest in ESL or ELL (English Language Learners....term de jour) as those students drag down the NCLB testing scores.

Add to this mess the fact that as school budgets get pinched the library budgets go first. Librarians without tenure are toast.

October 15, 2007 5:29 PM  
Anonymous Hipple, Rev. Paul T. said...

Hello Sister Kristine-

It is so Good to hear from you again. I didn't want to conflagulate Dr. Prof. PZ Myers Interweb with our private discussion, so I've contacted you here. I hope you don't mind.

In answer to your question Things are going about as well as can be expected.

As they are prone to say in Pakistan, "I'm still alive."

Rep. Tom Tancredo's campaign is really taking off. You can just FEEL the Lord working through him.

And now that Mother Yancy's had her boil removed, she is much more comfortable.

I hope all is well with you, too, and that the Lord is helping you to work through your Lesbianism and Harlotry.


October 17, 2007 1:46 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Of course I don't mind, Rev. Hipple, knowing that you like to tipple.

(Box wines now come with a nipple dispenser. Neat, huh?)

As they are prone to say in Pakistan, "I'm still alive."

No fair making me laugh!

Rep. Tom Tancredo's campaign is really taking off.

Can we send him to Mars with Bushie?

You can just FEEL the Lord working through him.

Great. Now my blog just achieved a G rating again. Thanks.

And now that Mother Yancy's had her boil removed, she is much more comfortable.

Ha ha ha! That's what you think! Ever see the film How to Get Ahead in Advertising?

I hope all is well with you, too, and that the Lord is helping you to work through your Lesbianism and Harlotry.

Seeing that it worked so well with you...

(A little context, friends...)

October 17, 2007 3:58 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Thank you, Anonymous, for your comments regarding NCLB.

That program has been a disaster for Minnesota schools, which are considered among the best in the country. Yet I had not considered such a direct impact on libraries.

You'll be happy to know that the U of M offers a faculty status equivalent ("continuous appointment") which amounts to tenure and includes academic freedom, access to professional development funds, paid sabbatical, and peer review of dossiers. Librarians at all levels are expected to engage in scholarly organizations and/or to research and publish. (This was the topic of my paper - Walter Library, specifically.) It sounds pretty good to me.

October 17, 2007 4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mother Yancy's boil-reminds me of the boil sucker joke.
It's the grossest joke I ever heard. I won't recount it here. There are very few venues in which I would tell it. It is crude factorial.

October 17, 2007 4:58 PM  
Blogger Kevin Scott said...

"God damn it."

Again more proof that all atheists secretly believe in God.

October 20, 2007 12:57 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Well, yes. "A theist(s)." What's so surprising about that? ;-)

October 21, 2007 2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I say "fuck" and "shit" quite often. But I will admit I secretly believe in sex and fecal matter.


October 21, 2007 5:49 PM  

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