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The Forgotten Faculty

At my college, librarians are considered faculty. We share the classification of “non-teaching faculty” with counselors, even though both librarians and counselors offer elective courses and programming such as workshops or instruction sessions. This status is a good thing – it means we’re protected by the faculty union and contract, which impacts everything from pay to representation.

As valuable as this faculty designation is, it sometimes doesn’t seem to register with the rest of the campus community. I can’t blame teaching faculty for rallying behind issues impacting them – these days in education everyone is having to fight to protect their interests. However, it’s been frustrating to have to explain repeatedly to surprised colleagues that I am a fellow faculty member. A high-level college administrator once commented that they “would’ve liked to see someone from academics in the room” in a meeting where I and a counselor were both present.

These interactions have led me to wonder what can be done to bridge this gap. Non-teaching faculty attend faculty meetings and sometimes lead campus faculty associations. We often share information about our instructional services, but it seems like the message isn’t always getting through.

I’m writing this post out of curiosity – are librarians faculty at your campus? If so, have you had similar experiences? What have you done to raise the profile of librarians with teaching faculty and administrators at your institution?

One reply on “The Forgotten Faculty”

On my campus, Librarians are faculty as well. We (and Counselors) are labeled as “noninstructional,” which seems like a misnomer, given the work we do. All is not equal, and this runs deep and even is encoded in law: there’s a California law requiring that 50% of a district’s expenses be expended on salaries of classroom instructors. Encoded in the law is a specification that librarians don’t count. This has impeded efforts to adequately staff our library.

Within faculty ranks, we’ve had mixed experiences. Overall, we feel seen and respected: we have a seat on Academic Senate, and a place on campus committees. However, we certainly do run into colleagues and administrators who don’t understand what we do, make assumptions, and act on them. We’d rather spend our time on outreach to students than on battling those misconceptions!

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