Tenure and Promotion Season at the Library

 Faculty Research Productivity, Faculty Teaching  Comments Off on Tenure and Promotion Season at the Library
Nov 262012

At many colleges and universities it’s tenure and promotion season, when major decisions are made about continuing employment and promotions for faculty members. Some of our librarian readers may be sweating their own tenure cases, as some academic librarians have faculty status, and some librarians may be supporting other faculty members as they prepare documentation to prove that they’ve been doing good work. If you have experience in either of these areas that you’d like to share, please leave your thoughts in the comments! (And note that you must first create an account to join the discussion.)

Academic libraries contribute to faculty teaching and research, two of the major categories on which faculty are generally evaluated for decisions about tenure and promotion. How can libraries and librarians support the review process and thus demonstrate library value?

The Value Report suggests that we examine how library characteristics can be connected to faculty:

  • Publication output
  • Grant proposals
  • Funded grants
  • Conference output
  • Textbook publication
  • National juried show exhibits
  • National or international awards
  • Citation impact
  • Patents
  • Consultancy/advisory work (p. 47-48).

Any and all of the above faculty activities and outputs may be represented in tenure and promotion portfolios. How can libraries help with the documentation or make use of the documentation to strengthen our case for library impact?

Does your library provide a citation database for faculty? Do faculty members use it or do librarians help them use it in order to demonstrate the impact of faculty publications? There’s a potential for library impact!

Does your library provide electronic resources that faculty integrate into proposals, articles, and reports? There’s another potential for library impact!


If you or others at your institution are interested in finding out how your library contributes to faculty teaching, a review of course content can be a point of analysis for library impact and value. The Value Report answers the question, “How does the library contribute to faculty teaching?” in this way:

Most librarians think only of their contributions to library instruction, such as guest lectures, online tutorials, and LibGuides. However, libraries contribute to faculty teaching in a variety of ways. They provide resources that are integrated into course materials on a massive scale (a value that is long overdue to be adequately captured and communicated). They collaborate with faculty on curriculum, assignment, and assessment design. (Value Report, p. 134)

To measure library impact on faculty teaching, we can look at syllabi, assignments, course reading lists, course websites, course reserves, and more. Questions to ask in the perusal of course content include: Where, in these documents, are library resources used or referred to? Where could (or should) library resources be more integrated into a course?

Data sources for course information are not too hard to come by: course syllabi are often archived on a department website or in a departmental office, and depending on your institution’s online courseware, you may be able to gain viewing privileges for course websites. Information on course reserves is available within the library, and librarians may survey their colleagues to learn about collaborations between instructors and librarians on curriculum, assignment, and/or assessment design.

A library-focused analysis of course content can illuminate connections between various types of library use and institutional mission and outcomes. And if your library is not currently collecting data on these potential correlations, it’s worth considering.

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