Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Tenure for Librarians on my Mind

...or, two big accomplishments at the end of 2014.

But first: Happy New Year!

I'm writing from the other side of a pretty lengthy holiday break from work. Christmas--the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord--is my favorite feast day. And Bookie, who is two and a half, is having a blast with her two favorite Christmas gifts: her new dolls, all of whom are named "Baby," and her new wooden blocks set.

Bookie, "Baby," and "Baby"
Wooden blocks FTW

Prior to the two and a half weeks I was away from the office for the holiday, I had reached the end of a very busy Fall semester. I experienced two accomplishments during that semester which I wanted to chronicle here, and which are in fact related.

First, at the end of October I submitted this for review.

What #libtenure looks like
That's a 20-page narrative documenting my accomplishments in librarianship, scholarship, and service since being appointed to the library faculty at my university in 2008, accompanied by a 3ish-inch binder of evidence of said accomplishments. As I write this, the Board on Rank and Tenure, a committee made up of eleven of my faculty colleagues across the university, are reading through my materials and determining if they meet the criteria for tenure laid out in our Faculty Handbook. Later this month, I meet with the Board and answer any questions they may have about my application...and immediately after that meeting, they vote on whether or not to grant me tenure.

Put another way, they vote on whether or not I get to keep my job.

No pressure or anything.

And though my case is solid, and I have the evaluative support of my department colleagues, chair, and dean (which is all included as evidence in the review process), and I was awarded promotion to the rank of Associate Professor last spring (which is a more rigorous application process than that for tenure)...this is most certainly a process fraught with anxiety because of what is at stake.

I will find out mid-spring the outcome of the vote, and the university president's final determination based on that vote, as to whether or not I will be granted tenure. Your thoughts/prayers/good vibes are welcome!

Second, and most certainly related to the above, in December I had an article published in the Journal of Creative Library Practice!

My article is titled "Academic Librarians as Knowledge Creators," and addresses the question of how both faculty status and tenure for librarians relate to the practice of creating new knowledge in the field of librarianship through doing and publishing scholarly research. It's what I've dubbed a "personal case study" because it not only situates that question within the literature, but measures it against my own experience as a librarian on the tenure-track who is required to be successful at doing and publishing scholarly research. In it, I share the narrative of my collaboration with my research partna', Teresa, through the lens of the question the article is addressing. I hope you'll click on over and give it a read if you haven't yet, and do let me know what you think if you do!

This article was originally written as a book chapter for an edited collection that never got off the ground--though it still may. I blogged almost two years ago while I was doing the research for the piece, which also gives insight as to how I decided on the title. I decided to pull it from the collection and offer it to the professional community sooner than I would have had I kept it in the traditional publishing cycle it was going through as a book chapter. Since a publisher hadn't been found at the time I pulled it to seek publication elsewhere, I knew there was no guarantee my piece would even remain in the final collection, whose final publication was still months-if-not-years away. The kind of researcher I am growing into just cannot deal with that kind of timeline, unless I am entering into it knowingly and intentionally with a specific aim in mind. Lesson learned for the future.

But JCLP has been just awesome to work with, and it meets all the criteria for openness and timeliness of publication that my experience with the traditionally edited collection did not. (I can't recommend highly enough this journal to other researchers in the field of librarianship as a possible space to publish your work.) I chose to request peer review for my article, and while it slowed down publication a tad (a whomping three months<sarcasm>--that's a blink compared to most publications), I am so glad I did. It was a case of peer review doing what it's supposed to--i.e., make the work better than it would have been otherwise. One of the reviewers responded positively with no substantive feedback, but the other reviewer engaged the piece thoroughly and offered criticism with an eye toward the article's potential. If I were to sum up the second reviewer's feedback in my own words, it would basically be:

"Make this article more #critlib*."

I was more than happy to oblige.

And so, I did my best to #critlib a piece I had first written over a year before ever encountering the critical library community. It was published at the beginning of December, and I'm so excited it is out there for folks to read and engage with.

So, those are my two big accomplishments from last semester, with some pictures of a very Bookie Christmas thrown in for good measure.

What did you find were your biggest accomplishments at the end of 2014?


*The reviewer did not use the #critlib hashtag in the feedback offered. I'm using it to encapsulate all of the reviewer's major points and suggested improvements.

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