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Committee to Examine Status of Librarians

By Michael Ferguson

In 1973, the AAUP adopted as policy the Statement on Faculty Status of College and University Librarians, a document drafted jointly with the Association of American Colleges (now the Association of American Colleges and Universities) and the Association of College and Research Libraries that calls for the granting of faculty status to academic librarians involved in teaching and research. Since then, numerous AAUP chapters have worked to achieve faculty status for librarians. The actual treatment of librarians continues to vary, however, and the Association does not have data on how its librarian members are classified and compensated at different institutions.

To begin to address these gaps, the AAUP’s Council last year authorized the formation of the Special Committee on the Status of Librarians in the Academy. Over the next three years, this committee will bring renewed attention to the status of college and university librarians. Patricia Bentley, a librarian at the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh and member of the AAUP’s Council, is the committee’s chair.

The first task of the committee is to identify weaknesses in existing sources of data on librarians. Bentley notes, for example, that “there is neither a source of information that comprehensively surveys the status of librarians within the academy nor a source comparable to the AAUP’s Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession that gathers and analyzes data on salary, rank, and type of institution for college and university librarians.” Although several professional organizations publish average salaries of academic librarians, the available data do not allow for “regional or national comparisons either among librarians or to other academics” and do not provide information about “where and how faculty status is achieved in the academy,” she says.

Bentley hopes that the committee ultimately will be able “to provide a standard by which status and salaries can be reported.” Such a standard, which would be articulated in a report issued by the committee, could lay the groundwork for a comprehensive survey of the treatment of college and university librarians—“a massive but needed enterprise,” says Bentley.

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