Librarian career advancement standards under review to ensure compliance with university goals

News Reporter

School officials are reviewing the process of career advancement for librarians at Texas State as part of the university’s ongoing mission to become a Tier One research institution.

An evaluation of the career ladder is scheduled to take place every five years, but 2010 passed without a review being conducted, said Selene Hinojosa, senior librarian.

“Faculty senate is asking us now to set up a review process to see if [the career ladder] is working,” Hinojosa said. “We want to see if it has raised standards, if it is acceptable to the librarians and acceptable to everyone involved.”

The ladder is the prescribed method of establishing standards for the promotion review process library staff must undergo at every level of their career, said Piava Rentz, senior librarian and liaison to faculty senate.

Rigorous standards were applied to the career development process when it was last altered in 2005, making it somewhat comparable to the faculty prerequisites for advancement, Hinojosa said.

“We wanted to set specific requirements,” Hinojosa said, “So it wasn’t a matter of being here for five years and automatically getting promoted.”

Librarians must document work accomplishments, committee memberships and published writing or similar projects that fall under the category of “creativity,” Hinojosa said.

Those accomplishments are reviewed and scored by a group of their peers before librarians may have the chance to advance to the next level, Rentz said.

Hinojosa said the current review is not necessarily due to a need for higher standards, especially considering the changes implemented during the last nine years.

“It wasn’t that we found (the advancement requirements) lacking,” Hinojosa said. “We just wanted to see how we stand compared to others.”

The committee will look into career ladder policies at peer institutions such as The University of Texas and Texas A&M University, Rentz said.

“If we aren’t up to par, then this committee can recommend what changes need to be made,” Hinojosa said. “But I don’t think we can assume that until we've established a benchmarking of other institutions.”

The committee will collect data on the rankings and job descriptions of library staff at comparable institutions, their committee participation and voting privileges and whether they are allowed development leave, said Rentz.

“Say a librarian has advanced to the highest rank—we want to know if there is still opportunity for advancement after that,” Rentz said. “And if they make changes through promotional review, we want to know how those are initiated.”

The standards at Texas A&M libraries are similar to those of Texas State, in that they encourage committee participation and provide developmental leave to their qualifying employees, said Kim Wolfe, employee resource representative for Texas A&M University libraries.

“We’re looking especially at institutions that are emerging research libraries like us,” Rentz said. “But we are also striving to become a member of the association of research libraries.”

The review committee will take into account the standards upheld by the 126 libraries that have attained a research status, Rentz said.  

“They are all the way from Harvard and Yale to much smaller libraries,” Rentz said. “So will be able to look at some of them to see what their common practices are and how we compare.”

The committee will consist of librarians from each level, as well as two members of faculty senate and will consult with a librarian from an outside institution, Rentz said.

Faculty Senate set a March 2015 goal for the completion of the review, Rentz said.

An institution must be a member of the Association of Research Libraries to achieve Tier One research status, according the criteria outlined by the State of Texas.

“Because there was such an overhaul in 2005, it might be that what we’re doing is more than what’s required,” Hinojosa said. “I would suppose that could help us in our argument as we become a research university, which is something we absolutely want to be.”