Perceptions from Library School Faculty on Meaningful Matters to Academic Librarians: Additional Degrees, Sabbaticals, Evaluation, and Governance

Kristen Young

Abstract


Objective – To survey the faculty members of American Library Association (ALA)-accredited library schools to gain insight into their perceptions on academic librarians obtaining faculty status and how the library school curricula prepare academic librarians for faculty roles.

Design – Survey questionnaire.

Setting – An e-survey was distributed online to 57 ALA-accredited library schools during April 2007, using Zoomerang.

Subjects – The population consisted of 906 tenure-track or tenured faculty members.

Methods – The 24 item survey was designed to answer eight specific research questions and evoke responses scored on a five-point Likert scale that corresponded to (1) Strongly Disagree, (2) Disagree, (3) Neutral, (4) Agree, and (5) Strongly Agree. For the analysis of data in questions 1 and 3 through 8, the perceptions of faculty members of ALA-accredited library schools were determined by calculating the mean and standard deviation. For the analysis of question 2 a t test was used to determine differences in faculty members’ perceptions based on gender and tenure. A one-way analysis of variance, or ANOVA, was used to determine library school faculty members’ perceptions based on academic rank.

Main Results – A total of 906 individuals were sent the link to the survey, and 187 individuals completed the survey, making the response rate 20.6%. Of the respondents, 38.5% were professors, 25.7% were associate professors, 33.7% were assistant professors, and 2.1% were lecturers. The majority of respondents were female (60.0%) and tenured (65.0%).

Faculty members of the ALA-accredited library schools agreed that courses in statistical concepts, procedures, and research (both experimental and non-experimental) should be required of those seeking a master’s or doctoral degree. They agreed that the Master of Library Science (MLS) degree is insufficient in preparing librarians for faculty status, and that additional graduate degrees improve performance of academic librarians in discipline-specific positions.

Conclusion – It is clear that library school faculty have a strong interest in the curriculum and the future directions of librarianship. It is also clear that faculty status for academic librarians, equivalent to that of teaching faculty, will remain a contentious issue for some time. The author had five recommendations for practice: Librarians who want a faculty-status position should earn another graduate degree, in addition to the MLS; ALA-accredited library schools should require that PhD and masters students have courses in experimental and non-experimental research; ALA-accredited library schools should require that PhD and masters students have courses introducing statistics; Librarians with faculty status should be involved in university governance as well as library governance; and, Librarians with faculty status should be eligible for the same sabbatical and research leaves as other faculty.

There are three recommendations for further study identified by the author. First is a qualitative study to identify the reasons behind the perceptions that faculty members have of the issues that surround faculty status for academic librarians. Second is a qualitative study to assess how faculty status affects the lives of academic librarians, both personally and professionally. Lastly, additional research should be conducted to gain a greater understanding of how faculty status impacts academic librarians within the institutions they are a part of.

Keywords


academic librarianship; faculty; faculty status; library and information science

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