Status of Academic LibrariansFAQ Sheet

Q1. What is academic status for librarians?

A. This employment document calls for

  • ranks for librarians with norms and criteria for appointment and promotion.
  • Academic freedom: protection to represent all viewpoints in the library collections and protection from censorship.
  • Due process: just cause must be shown in the termination of full-time librarians who have completed a probationary period. Non-renewal of a librarian would have to be the result of documented reasons (e.g. failure to maintain an acceptable attendance record, theft, sexual harassment, copyright violations, etc.).
  • Q2. Why do the librarians want academic status?

    A. Librarians develop book and media collections that are a scholarly contribution to academic life. Like an editor selecting contributors to a collection of essays, bibliographers make critical judgments about what researchers read. Librarians’ commitment to representing all viewpoints makes them vulnerable to the potentially arbitrary actions of political factions who sometimes object to controversial subject material in libraries.

    Recruitment and retention of librarians would also be enhanced with academic status. Le Moyne is surrounded by college libraries in NYS with faculty status and some variation on that theme.

    Q3. What do librarians at Le Moyne have now?

    A. Administrative contracts of one or three years in length. No means for promotion through enhancement of credentials and professional contributions. No protection from arbitrary termination at the end of a contract.

    Q4. Who else at Le Moyne has due process?

    A. Unionized employees on campus (B&G, Security officers). Tenured faculty. Administrators who also have tenure.

    Q5. Would having academic freedom and due process mean the same thing as having tenure?

    A. Some people would call any form of job security or “just cause protection” tenure, but what the librarians have requested in this case is not really very different from what unionized employees at Le Moyne and elsewhere already enjoy. It simply would mean that the College could not be pressured into victimizing librarians for making controversial decisions. Librarians could only be terminated for documented “just cause” or to meet the needs of the institution (e.g. if the college decided it needed fewer librarians overall).

    Q6. What kind of status do librarians have at other colleges?

    A. Some have full faculty status. Some have faculty rank without tenure. Others have administrative appointments that carry the protection of showing just cause to terminate employment. Some are administrators as it is at Le Moyne.

    The Faculty Senate Committee on Academic Relations, Policies and Procedures (ARRP) at Le Moyne College considered faculty status for librarians including tenure and decided against it. The academic status being proposed here is not faculty status.

    Q7. Does the College have anything to lose if it grants academic status to its librarians?

    A. No. The College can terminate a librarian for documented incompetence. This contrasts significantly from terminating union employees who are protected by a form of due process that provides for outside arbitrators to make final binding decisions when a dispute arises.

    "Just cause" and "due process" are simply good personnel practice for all organizations and all employees. They make an important statement about the commitment of the employer to fairness and justice. They will not in any way prevent the College from getting rid of librarians who are incompetent or out of date and they will not prevent the College from making personnel changes in the library based on changing needs. They simply guarantee that treatment will not be arbitrary or unfair.

    Q8. Will this cost the College money?

    A. It would entail raises when librarians are promoted. As it stands now, librarians are on the administrative pay scale. While the pay scale would appear to have the potential to cost the college money, in reality this is money the college will have to spend anyway to attract and retain excellent librarians. Frankly, failure to adopt academic status for the librarians would cost Le Moyne College in terms of recruitment and retention of excellent professionals.

    Created: 4/6/99 Updated: 4/6/99