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The Need for Faculty Status and Uniform Tenure Requirements for Law Librarians


Carol A. Parker


University of New Mexico School of Law

November 21, 2009

Law Library Journal, Vol. 103, No. 1, Winter 2011

Abstract:     
This article examines tenure requirements currently in use in academic law libraries in the United States. It is one of two articles examining the effect of tenure opportunities on rank-and-file academic law librarians, their law libraries, and the profession of law librarianship. Its intended audience is library directors and other leaders within the profession of academic law librarianship. The article reports data gathered in an August 2009 survey of law libraries that currently provide tenure or continuous appointment opportunities for academic law librarians. To provide context, this article revisits faculty status and how it can naturally lead to law librarians having opportunities to attain tenured status. The article also considers the ideal of tenured status - what benefits are gained by the tenure system and what is meant by the concept of academic freedom which underpins justification of tenure generally. It identifies various tenure tracks for librarians and the standards for performance under which law librarians are currently reviewed, promoted to progressively higher rank, and awarded tenure. Finally, it recommends that library directors and other leaders within the profession make a concerted effort to encourage law libraries to employ more uniform and consistently rigorous standards for assessing law librarian performance for tenure or continuous appointment, and to develop more robust programs for encouraging librarian scholarship. Failing to do so can only weaken arguments that law librarians should continue to hold faculty status, and be able to attain tenured status, well into the future.

An earlier draft of this article entitled, "The Need for More Uniform and Consistently Rigorous Standards for Assessing Law Librarian Performance in Tenure and Continuous Appointment Policies," received the American Association of Law Libraries' LexisNexis® Call for Papers, Open Division award for 2010.

A companion piece, “Challenges Associated with Providing Tenure and Continuous Appointment Opportunities for Academic Law Librarians,” may be found at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1490113.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 53

Keywords: law librarians, faculty status, tenure-tracks, promotion and retention performance evaluation standards

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Date posted: November 22, 2009 ; Last revised: January 2, 2011

Suggested Citation

Parker, Carol A., The Need for Faculty Status and Uniform Tenure Requirements for Law Librarians (November 21, 2009). Law Library Journal, Vol. 103, No. 1, Winter 2011. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1510824 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1510824

Contact Information

Carol A. Parker (Contact Author)
University of New Mexico School of Law ( email )
1117 Stanford Dr., NE
MSC11 6080
Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001
United States

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