What a compelling post on Librarians in Academia: Faculty or Support Staff?
Well, this is not new issue. I have heard for a while. I’m pretty much optimistic on tenure-track. It might be because I love research. That’s the reason why I chose to do my PhD thing here. So I see tenure track is the way to develop the field in total, not individual benefit. This is how society in general should go. Since you work one something and have knowledge/skills/experience, and you don’t need to hold faculty, why don’t you just contribute something you know/have to the society. I think it is the idea beneath the tenure-track to provide the machanism to develop the field you are belong to as well as the reputation of your organization. Money is just a tool to be used in this machanism. The image of the profession could not rely on tunure track also because mainly what your major contributions are from practice, not theory or success you earn from research or getting published. It’s not only about those librarians in academia. Public see what you have done on reference/circulation desk rather than in on a messy desk in catalog/collection development department. Oops! WYSIWYG.
In Thai academic environment, if you are a librarian, you don’t need to concern about this tenure things because you have no choice. You don’t have it, unless you are a faculty in LIS school. I think there are a couple of old universities that provide tenure track for librarian, but not that strong. Only thing you could compare with the tenure track is the evaluation for annual salary and benefit revision. But it’s not mainly based on academic/research contribution or . Usually it’s about how long have you worked.!!! You know it how Thai people respect seniority the most. Don’t blame any one. It’s government policy for government employee, never been complaint by librarians. And the big guys in the government are definitely the ones who longest works for the organization. Can’t complain.
The image issue is another thing that librarians in Thailand have never complaint about. Not only we are always seen as support staff, Thai librarians also respect the faculty as higher rank than them. The problem is not about others, but ourselves. Again, can’t complain. But yes, the image could be improved on one-by-one basis. That means one faculty with one librarian. Not that whole profession in general. My lecturer in Thailand married an engineer professor. Her husband always keep questions on what she would do with her library degree.
It is interesting to see why our profession is very misterious to outsiders, when our work is quite tangible. One of my PhD fellow mentioned in the introductory class that it’s not just our field, but every field. Have you ever curious about what people would do with their degree? (in particular those new degree titles)
For Thailand, library education is pretty fundamental questionable. It’s pretty hard to find one librarian you are second professional degree. Library science programs are largely taught in undergraduate level with no professional accreditation process. You can earn fully librarian position with the degree from recognized universities. Therefore, the majority of librarians in Thailand is undergraduate earned.
I usually blame the non-tenure track setting in Thailand for discouragement of R&D of the field. I know that once you start your work. Your users and your boss blind you from the profession’s sakes. But development turn you to be colorful. Whether it is colored by blue, grey or red, it’s value.
Well, the issue would not be overestimated if we just focus on our beloved profession. The image is outside. The real thing is inside. Respectiveness is individual based. You can be a big guy with your library degree.