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Defining Excellence in Academic Librarianship at USC (DEAL at USC): Your Philosophy of Librarianship

When the time comes for annual or continuing appointment [tenure] reviews, how are we to document and explain to our colleagues (both within our library and within our institution), exactly what we have accomplished?

Danielle Mihram's PowerPoint Presentation on the Philosophy of Academic Librarianship

Your Philosophy of Librarianship

At academic research institutions (such as ours at USC) librarians are being held accountable, more than ever before, to provide solid evidence of the quality of their work,  and of their impact on the mission of both their institution and their library.  Though, in many cases, our annual reviews are summative and evaluative, at time of promotion and continuing appointment (or tenure) the expectation of our University Committee on Appointments, Promotions, and Tenure (UCAPT) is that we present for their review our reflective (formative) assessment of our work (including our goals, strategies, methodologies) as well as our understanding of the value and purpose of our essential role as academic librarians in a research university.

 Such an assessment can be first formulated in our Statement of Philosophy of Academic Librarianship.  This is a relatively new concept in the field of librarianship and it has, as its precedent, the Teaching Philosophy Statement which is a “personal mission statement” for those committed to teaching.  That Statement demonstrates one’s reflective thinking about teaching.  It helps communicate one’s goals as a teacher, and one’s commitment to students’ learning outcomes based on their corresponding actions and activities, in and out of the classroom (See Seldin et al., 2010).

 A Statement of Philosophy of Academic Librarianship presents a capsule summary of your understanding of the value and purpose of your role as an academic librarian in a research university.

 It is highly personalized (it is your statement and not someone else’s.)  With this sense of ownership comes the ability to envision your work ambitiously while aligning with your institutional and discipline-related goals.

 It gives you a starting point to examine your professional practices, and codifies your thinking at a particular time, while it documents and showcases your reflective thinking within the context of your profession.

 It gains an advantage over others for promotion or for a new position.

Core Bibliography on the Statement of Philosophy of Academic Librarianship

An extensive literature review on this topic yields very few results.  In addition to the titles listed here, please see my PowerPoint presentation (left column) and Important Considerations in drop-down menu of this page.

American College & Research Libraries (2010).  2010 Top Ten Trends in Academic Libraries -A Review of the Current Literature.”

Also appeared in:  College & Research Libraries News 71(6): 286-292 (June 2010).

Baia, Wendy (2005).  “Notes from a Cataloguer—Success in Technical Services,” Chap 12 (pp. 157-169) in Gregory, Gwen Meyer (ed.), The Successful Academic Librarian – Winning Strategies from Library Leaders, Medford, NJ: Information Today.

Cardina, Christen and Donald Wicks (2004).  “The Changing Roles of Academic Reference Librarians Over a Ten-Year Period,” Reference & User Services Quarterly 44(2): 133-142 (Winter 2004).

Diamond, Robert M. (2002).  Serving on Promotion, Tenure, and Faculty Review Committees – A Faculty Guide (2nd edition).  Bolton, Mass.: Anker.

Duderstadt, James J. (2001). “Preparing Future Faculty for Future Universities,” Liberal Education 87(2): 24-29 (Spring 2001).

Hisle, W. Lee (2002). “Top Issues Facing Academic Libraries,” College & Research Libraries News: 714-715, 730. Nov 2002

Lankes, R. David (2011).  The Atlas of New Librarianship. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Lynch, Clifford and Don E. Carleton (2009).  “Lecture: Impact of Digital Scholarship on Research Libraries,' Journal of Library Administration 49(3): 227-244.     

Lynch, Clifford A. (2003). “Chapter 18. The Coming Crisis in Preserving Our Digital Cultural Heritage,” Journal of Library Administration, 38(3-4):149-161

Gregory, Gwen Meyer (2005).  The Successful Academic Librarian: Winning Strategies From Library Leaders.  Medford, NJ: Information Today.

Schontz, Priscilla K. and Jeffrey S. Bullington (1998).  “Tips for New Librarians – What to Know in the First Year of a Tenure-Track Position.  College & Research Libraries News 59(2): 85-88 (Feb 1998).

Seldin, Peter et al (2010). The Teaching Portfolio - A Practical Guide to Improved Performance and Promotion/Tenure Decisions (4th edition). San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Staley, David J. and Kara J. Malenfant (June 2010).  Futures Thinking for Academic Librarians. Chicago: Association of College & Research Libraries.

Wakashige, Benjamin and Emily Asch (2006).  “A View from the Top: What the Director or Dean is Looking For,” Chap 15 (pp. 199-206) in Gregory, Gwen Meyer (ed.), The Successful Academic Librarian – Winning Strategies from Library Leaders, Medford, NJ: Information Today.



Atkins, D. E. (chair). (2003, January). Revolutionizing Science and Engineering through Cyberinfrastructure: Report of the National Science Foundation Blue-Ribbon Advisory Panel on Cyberinfrastructure. Published by the National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA.

National Research Council (2000). The Digital Dilemma: Intellectual Property in the Information Age – A Report by the Committee on Intellectual Property Rights in the Emerging Information Infrastructure.  Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Unsworth, J. (Commission Chair, with commission members and M. Welshons, editor). (2006). Our Cultural Commonwealth. The Report of the American Council of Learned Societies Commission on Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities and Social Sciences. New York: ACLS.