Working Papers

Tenure and the Law Library Director

James M. Donovan, University of Georgia School of Law Library
Kevin B. Shelton, Hofstra University Law School Library

Abstract

This essay offers a response to the current discussion concerning the possible rescission of ABA Accreditation Standard 603 governing tenure-track appointment of the law library director.

Part I reviews this discussion, highlighting the terms and arguments on all sides of the debate. Part II offers a defense of the current standard, based upon the need for the director both to receive the protections of academic freedom and to participate in faculty governance of the law school.

The need for tenure to perform a director's professional duties, however, does not make one automatically tenureable. Part III examines the skeptical attitude that librarians have expressed concerning whether they are either willing or able to perform at the added expectations of tenured faculty, especially scholarly production. A comparison of Leiter's scholarly impact scores shows that directors tend to perform well below the faculty averages of their schools, shedding possible light on the law school deans' expressed desire to eliminate 603.

Additional data for new director hires, however, suggests that this trend may be changing, and that rising library directors are better preparing themselves to succeed under the traditional criteria of tenure review. This result gives promise that the concerns of the deans can be addressed not by lowering the bar and making directors simple administrators, in the process weakening their ability to perform their library oversight duties, but by raising the quality of candidate chosen to assume the role.

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