Tenure and the Law Library Director

Journal of Legal Education, Forthcoming

41 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2010 Last revised: 31 Mar 2011

See all articles by James M. Donovan

James M. Donovan

University of Kentucky

Kevin B. Shelton

Hofstra University - Library

Date Written: March 30, 2011


This essay offers a response to the current discussion concerning the possible rescission of ABA Accreditation Standard 603 governing tenure-track appointment of the law library director.

Part I reviews this discussion, highlighting the terms and arguments on all sides of the debate. Part II offers a defense of the current standard, based upon the need for the director both to receive the protections of academic freedom and to participate in faculty governance of the law school.

The need for tenure to perform a director's professional duties, however, does not make one automatically tenureable. Part III examines the skeptical attitude that librarians have expressed concerning whether they are either willing or able to perform at the added expectations of tenured faculty, especially scholarly production. A comparison of Leiter's scholarly impact scores shows that directors tend to perform well below the faculty averages of their schools, shedding possible light on the law school deans' expressed desire to eliminate 603.

Additional data for new director hires, however, suggests that this trend may be changing, and that rising library directors are better preparing themselves to succeed under the traditional criteria of tenure review. This result gives promise that the concerns of the deans can be addressed not by lowering the bar and making directors simple administrators, in the process weakening their ability to perform their library oversight duties, but by raising the quality of candidate chosen to assume the role.

Keywords: Tenure, Law Library, Directors, Academic Freedom, Faculty Governance

Suggested Citation

Donovan, James M. and Shelton, Kevin B., Tenure and the Law Library Director (March 30, 2011). Journal of Legal Education, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1640009

James M. Donovan (Contact Author)

University of Kentucky ( email )

J. David Rosenberg College of Law Library
620 S. Limestone Street
Lexington, KY 40506-0048
United States

Kevin B. Shelton

Hofstra University - Library ( email )

United States

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