i dream of being possible

Some personal context for 'Librarians, tenure, and de-professionalisation'

I sort of sparked a few interesting discussions with my last post on “Librarians, Tenure, and de-professionalisation.” I’ve definitely been enjoying participating, reading, and generally having this conversation.

It also has made me realise that many of my positions don’t really make sense outside of my personal context. This is was not helped by the pretentious title of the post, since more than anything I was really talking about me (one librarian) and my views on (my possible) tenure, and (my somewhat desired) deprofessionalisation.

It wasn’t intended to be either normative or proscriptive (er… I also realize I outright said “remove tenure for librarians!” but it was tongue-in-cheek, which was somewhat communicated by the evil Togepi gif).

And, for some of my comments, they make a lot more sense with a few details on where I’m at right now.

I’m a part-time, contract librarian. I also, inexplicably, appear to be in one of the few job designations on my heavily unionised campus that is not part of any union. At this point, ‘de-proffesionalising” to a lower rank but unionised position is probably a step up for me – and I do realise that this is probably not something that will happen.

The thing is…. is that I actually love my job. I could maybe do with full-time (but that isn’t even strictly necessary…). I enjoy the flexibility, since I can sit on some committees whenever I have the time and inclination (but attendance isn’t mandatory as far as I know). I’m involved in cool and exciting projects, my job is challenging enough (with opportunities to grow and learn).

I also have a fairly clear understanding of what is important for me, as far as being employed is concerned. I don’t care about status, money, etc. I do care about stability, benefits, and a great atmosphere (the people I work with at York are A+ awesome). This isn’t for everyone, though, and that is totally okay.

Above all… it would just be great for there to be more options. Options for people like me and options for the people who are interested in tenure (and, by this, I mean a reversal of the current trend for tenured positions just disappearing into the ether).

I don’t actually think that tenured librarians should be stripped of their rank, or that tenure should be off the table. What I do think is that there could be and probably should be more flexibility in how we classify ourselves and what we consider ‘professional’ in our field.1

  1. For example, I mentioned in my last post dropping ‘down’ to a lib tech/assistant position. But I find it equally ridiculous that a cataloguing assistant in my department could be working there for, say ten years, and have no chance of ever getting promoted to Librarian I without getting a MLIS, despite their valuable institutional memory, experience, and contributions to the library.