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Librarian is Teaching or Non Teaching

There is a lot of talk about the place of librarians in academics. I worked for faculty status
and non-faculty status positions. I am happy with either position since I’m doing my job, my work; I
can publish and speak regardless of whether or not anyone tells me to. But I never really understood
why some libraries had a status while others didn’t.

What specifically is the purpose of having a status track for librarians? To encourage
publication? To put librarians on the same level as other academic faculty? To create job security? To
get the respect we deserve? Maybe that’s why I like discuss here. I don’t get judged for my age, my
looks or my chair. I’m judged for what I am and what I do.

“Librarian with faculty rank.” The only places I see our “faculty rank” coming into play is in
payroll, vacation days, and in the ability to be a part of faculty clubs and other committees.

While we have a “place at the table,” we are certainly not seen as faculty members by the
faculty. It is clear to me that the faculty members see us as support staff. They see us as people who
help them find articles and help their students to learn how to do library research. They don’t see us
as teachers, as creators of knowledge, and as experts in our particular field (librarianship). And in
spite of our degrees and our knowledge, we are here to support the students and faculty. That’s our
job. So while I’d love for faculty members to see me as an intellectual equal and to understand what I
do, I don’t think status is what would do it.

Some persons arguing against made the valid point that librarians can become involved in
faculty committees simply by being given faculty rank. However, they also argued that librarians don’t
need the security of tenure because they are collecting knowledge not creating it. There I disagree.
There are plenty of librarians who write and who do original research. There are plenty of librarians
on the cutting edge of technology and are developing amazing applications. They are creating
knowledge. If the purpose of librarians having tenure is to secure academic freedom for us (and the
ability to take sabbaticals to do original research and whatnot), I’m all for it. But that is rarely an
argument.

With faculty status, librarians find it easier to earn the respect of their faculty peers and
administrators. They become credible academics who are capable partners in the shaping of teaching
and research. As faculty members, librarians are more likely to have a say in establishing the criteria
on which academe will judge libraries in the 21st century.

Srinivasa Rao Ganta