I have used this site in many occasions to express opinions on what I consider necessary changes in the field of librarianship. Some problems that affect our field, as well as other fields, derive from the Academe’s wrong approach. The following discussion is about one of them. In some institutions academic librarians have a choice of being faculty librarians or not. In other institutions the burden comes with the position. Two questions enter the debate realm: a. What is the right choice? and b. Should all academic institutions offer the choice?
To answer the first question we must consider a number of factors. Academic librarians have a variety of duties, depending on the position. Lately, with the cut-downs, they are very busy covering a number of positions and dealing with a number of departments inside their respective institutions. If they are faculty librarians, they are required to publish, but they hardly have the time to take a break from their duties. If their director allows paid time off for research and publishing , then there is no problem. The latter, however, rarely happens, since the limited personnel is absolutely necessary for the proper function of the library. Despite the lack of time, the obligation to publish stands for the faculty librarians. Not only that, but committees look at quantity instead of quality when it comes to tenure evaluation, as long as the publisher is respected, lowering the academic standards and making the librarian’s obligations harder to fulfill. Knowing these facts, it would be expected by a librarian accepting an academic position to choose the non-faculty option, if such option was offered by the institution.
The second question can now be easily answered. The choice should be offered by all academic institutions. Unless, they can come up with a plan that would allow academic librarians to take paid time off to publish, they should not force them to go with this option. This would also prevent publishing of works of lower quality, since energy-drained and time-lacking librarians do not have the time to do better than that. To change this approach, like in most cases where change is required, people who possess leading positions in the Academe must change their one-way thought process and realize that, what was effective and logical in the past may be dysfunctional and catastrophic in the future.