Now to go off on a little bit of a tangent, something that gathering at faculty meetings, of which the Library Committee meeting is a sub-division of, is the view of librarians as faculty. You see, that way things are done here at the small college I work at is that we have a Faculty Day which brings together all of the faculty to discuss our concerns/issues and meet on various committees such as the curriculum committee and the library committee. Now, all of these committees have a mix of faculty from all departments and it is pretty much up to the individual as to what committee they want to serve on. Very informal and haphazard as you can imagine.
So, to continue to make a short story long, our library committee has a lot of librarians in it but also a sprinkling of faculty. Now they raise issues and concerns about the library and usually will wax poetic on how they expound the virtues of the library in their classes which is all well and good. So I sit there as the secretary of the committee as the chronicler of what goes on and what gets brought up and I have a sort of out of body experience where I view the proceedings through a lens of clarity (yes, I need an out of body experience to have a moment of clarity) and I see the faculty at large the the librarians as two separate bodies as the faculty at large see them. I can tell this from not only the words but also the tone and tenor coming from the faculty.
Hey now, we're all in this together and all are faculty together but they don't see it that way. Maybe it's because we aren't in the classroom running classes or something but it all comes flooding to me in this moment of clearheadedness. I start to think of some other interactions I've had with faculty and they seem to think of us as support staff like to tutors in the writing center. And recently I read an article about some colleges and universities stripping librarians of faculty status and designating the position as a professional position.
So the questions that I pose are, firstly and probably most importantly, why are librarian given faculty status. Then secondly, why do many people, not just faculty members, not consider librarians to be a position that is deserving of faculty status or recognition? I have my ideas on the answers to those questions so I'll spill and let you decided if I am off the mark or not.
In an effort to confuse you, I'll tackle the second part first, and because I think that one is an easier one to explain. I think that most people out there (and here I go generalizing that will probably get me in trouble) don't really know what an academic librarian does and how it differs from other areas of librarianship that they may be more familiar with such as the public librarian. Moreover (I always liked that word), there have been many rapid changes in technology and the way information is produced, stored and disseminated, that the old models of what a librarian "is" are grossly outdated and even the new definitions become outdated rather quickly. So the disconnect in what we do and what we essentially are is a big concern for me going forward in my career.
Now, back to the first question which is decidedly trickier. One answer as to why librarians are given faculty status is to keep them as equals to the in-class faculty. If you are doing information literacy instruction, whether it be in one-shot sessions, workshop style sessions or teaching a for credit information literacy course, then there is an imperative to be acknowledged as a peer with the traditional teaching faculty at large. Moreover (there is that word again), if you are looked at to publish as a requirement of gaining tenure or promotion, then what is there that really separates you from the general teaching faculty aside from perception?
I could go on and on about this and I was having an excellent discussion about this with a colleague just this morning. You do not want to create a situation where you have the haves and the have-nots, and if librarians are going to fall under the same requirements as teaching faculty, they the rules have to be the same for both.
Time warping back to where this all began, with me sitting in a library committee meeting, let's bring this back to the beginning. Some faculty in the meeting see themselves as different than the librarians because they are in the classroom teaching every day and that is true, they are different. But, we are the same in that we are faculty and that recognition needs to take place. Faculty does not have just one definition just like there are different types of librarians such catalogers, ILL librarians, reference librarians etc, but we are all librarians. Just like that, in the academic sphere, we are all faculty.