Tuesday, January 13, 2009

How mad am I?

What do we owe our profession? What do we owe those who follow after us? I happen to think we owe our profession a great deal. We owe those who follow after us a very great deal. We owe them at least as good a situation as we found, and preferrably, a better situation. And I am mad at those who seem to place their personal interests above any long term interest of the profession, and those who follow after them.

Let's not name names. At least not yet.

What do you say about a major library director who seems to have waved goodbye and waltzed out of his library, after many, many years? He seems to have left it up to his long-time colleagues to select a successor, and never thought to urge them to select a librarian -- that is, somebody with library training.

What do you say about a different major library director who seems happy to let his faculty believe that librarians do not do any kind of research unless it mimics the law faculty model? Do we have any kind of obligation to educate our faculty about library publications and library research that should dazzle our plain-vanilla law colleagues? I think so. But some of my director colleagues have been so busy feathering themselves with the law faculty plumage that they have not noticed that librarians have their own research and scholarship that is just as legitimate as anything published in journals run by law students!

What about the various law schools that are trying to redefine the library director position as non-faculty -- an administrator position? You might be able to make the argument, but I think they are losing a major value of the faculty/director position. In fact, I like the idea of all librarians as faculty and scholars generally. But the school has to commit to providing release time for research and writing, and if they teach, for preparation for class. When you combine the roles of librarian and faculty, I think you get a double bang for the institutional buck. There is a blending of the teaching/scholarship role with the research and support role that librarians bring. And all of that is blended together when purchasing materials, choosing subscriptions, planning space, teaching students how to use materials, and providing tutorials to faculty on how to best use the resources available.

I am really angry when I see what looks like individual librarians taking the short term advantage for themselves, and leaving a mess behind for those who follow. I hope I am misunderstanding what I see. I will happily apologize to anybody I am wronging with my rant. But I am mad at what looks to me like folks grabbing and running -- and leaving the younger librarians who follow after us with trash to look forward to. That ain't right.


Lyonette Louis-Jacques said...

There is some cause for concern.

I hear there's a major law library director who's asserted they don't know about technical services and they don't seem to care or want to know about technical services. That's worrisome.

Marie S. Newman said...

I think you're right, Betsy. Each of us should fight the fight for faculty status in our own institutions. Otherwise, the next generation of directors will be the losers.

Betsy McKenzie said...

Ok, it's cute when James Taylor sings "don't know much about history..." but it really cuts to the bone when a major library director does, in fact state that he does not know about technical services. And does not follow up with any statement about working hard to learn or getting the best people to teach him, or really admiring the folks who know it.... I agree, Lyo. And Marie, you are right on.