Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Faculty or Academic Status of Librarians in State Colleges and Universities

By Ferdinand Angelo Alipis

I suppose the faculty status of librarians also depends on your academic preparation. I think it is not automatic. We have to deserve it. We have to work for it and work hard for it. As was mentioned earlier, the college or the university has the final say on your status.

Having a master's degree, at least, is a requirement. At the moment, with my position as head librarian, I am classified under rank 7 which is equivalent to the rank of an assistant professor. Of course, I have to comply with the requirements of the school in terms of academic degree, professional license, length of experience, community involvement and outreach, membership in professional organizations, researches conducted and published, attendance in seminars and trainings, etc. All these things get accounted for and given points in determining one's rank and academic status.

Maybe it is good for librarians to realize that we just have to keep on studying and earning degrees which is what I continue to do. I have two masters degrees already and of course one is on library science. Whether I like it or not, I have to start work on a doctorate because academic achievements matter if we want to survive in the academe. Sometimes even our competence and credibility gets challenged by our colleagues and we have just have to recognize that we have our own special competence as librarians which they simply do not have no matter how many doctorates they have.

Even in the way we communicate, we have to work hard on our communication skills also. This is just basic and we have to remind ourselves regarding this matter. There is the perennial problem of our deteriorating command of English. Perhaps, you can notice that even here in the PAARL Yahoo Group. Just take a close look at some postings. We have to go back to basic English grammar and learn how to construct simple English sentences to make ourselves better understood. We do not need to be sophisticated and elaborate. As librarians, we communicate a lot, either orally or in writing. We write memos to our staff. We are sometimes asked to write letters or even prepare presentations for our superiors.

Aside from formally reviewing our English, we need to read also. Through reading we get to improve our vocabulary and discover how words are used in various contexts. How can I aim for an academic status when my English is incomprehensible because of wrong grammar or poor choice of words or simple errors in spelling abound in our work. Of course, obvious clerical error can be exempted, but has to be corrected. But we just have to be careful also and do some editing before posting or sending out anything. We just have to do basic things correctly. I get disgusted at how a librarian for ten years seem not to know her alphabet that she commits errors in filing shelflist cards.

We just have to shape up as librarians. We have to work hard for that academic status. It is not granted automatically. I just admire the likes of Ms. Fe Angela Verzosa and Ms. Lourdes David and Prof. Rosalie Faderon and, of course, many others out there. If we want academic status or any recognition as librarians, we just have to be like them.

Quoting Fe Angela Manansala-Verzosa : PAARL Library Standards (adopted in the year 2000 and serves as model for CHED Office of Standards and the Standards for Academic Libraries as prepared by BFL) supports faculty rank, status, and tenure for professional librarians in academic institutions. The specific provision is under item no. 2 on Administration: "2.5 The college/university librarian shall have faculty or academic status, and shall participate actively and interact with the faculty on curricular and instructional matters, and research activities." The rationale behind this is: "The library exists to support the teaching, research, and service functions of the institution. Thus librarians should also participate in the development of the institution' s mission, curriculum, and governance."

The salary scale and benefits for librarians should be the same or equivalent to those of other academic categories (teaching and non-teaching faculty) with equivalent education, experience, or responsibility. However, this status is achieved thru a process called collective bargaining. It is still a management prerogative to grant or deny the status, despite efforts of PAARL to provide the standard.

At De La Salle University Library, professional librarians have been granted faculty status since the 1980s thru collective bargaining. Our faculty status is enshrined in the Faculty Manual, which goes through a process of revision every 3 years. So salaries and benefits, working conditions, and other related provisions are agreed upon and implemented for the next 3 years, until the manual undergoes another revision.

Faculty ranking is equivalent to that of the teaching faculty. So before I retired, I was classified under Academic Service Faculty Rank 3 step 5 (3-5) with the equivalent rank and salary of an Associate Professor. I also enjoy an annual Research incentive equivalent to a month's salary for a research paper, publishable or presented in a public forum (seminar, conference, etc.) At present, there are 14 library faculty positions. According to our Manual, the institution may dismiss a librarian during the probationary period (which is set at a minimum of one year to maximum of 3 years) only for just cause and through academic due process. Non-reappointment also requires adequate notice, peer performance review, and access to a grievance procedure, if necessary.

Source: with permission from the author

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