Approaching challenges to tenure: A fully remote librarian perspective

Taylor Ralph


According to a large 2016 study, more than half of university librarian positions are granted nominal faculty status by their institutions, which includes a tenure or peer-review process.1 So, scholarship and service, along with the performance of regular job duties as outlined by a position description, are expected as points of consideration for the promotion of university or college librarians. Current literature on tenure-track librarianship includes, but is not limited to, both the professionalization and the de-professionalization of library positions, how generational groups feel about librarian faculty status, and the impact that racial identity and disability status have on the process. While the discussion around the necessity and even desire for tenure-track library positions continues, there has so far been little consideration of the expectations set by this status for fully remote employees. Remote work in libraries has become increasingly common during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it seems more positions are being hired as fully remote. This fully remote designation presents challenges for librarians hired in tenure-track positions. As a fully remote tenure-track librarian who works across the country from my institution, I have identified three major challenges set by tenure-track expectations: a lack of peer collaboration opportunities, physical barriers to service at the library and institution levels, and a profound feeling of disconnect to the mission and vision of the institution.

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