Magazine article American Libraries

ALISE: Can (Greying) Faculty Shape Policy? A Report on the Library Educator's Conference in San Antonio

Magazine article American Libraries

ALISE: Can (Greying) Faculty Shape Policy? A Report on the Library Educator's Conference in San Antonio

Article excerpt


Can (greying) faculty shape policy?

JUST PRIOR TO ALA MIDWINER Meeting, the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) held its annual conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in San Antonio Jan. 6-10.

ALISE, formerly the Association of American Library Schools, was founded in 1915 and is the professional organization for library and information science educators. ALISE's personal members, primarily faculty and doctoral students, total 518; the association also has institutional members.

Despite ice and snow storms that kept some members from attending and delayed the arrival of others, this year's attendance of 325 was about the same as at last year's conference in Chicago. San Antonio attracted a record number of doctoral students and first-time registrants.

The overall assessment of the conference atmosphere this year was positive. Despite the closing of a number of library schools the past few years, library education appears to be on an upswing at the moment. Most participants reported good enrollment figures again this year--figures that were especially encouraging since they seem to demonstrate that last year's increase was not a one-time upturn.

Indeed, faculty from some schools reported record enrollments, and conversations about crowded classrooms and heavy teaching schedules were common. Obviously, prospective students have become aware that shortages of library and information workers already exist in some specialties and some geographic areas and that these shortages are likely to continue and expand.

To ensure that library and information science schools continue to attract the qualified students needed to meet this shortage, ALISE has established a recruitment committee that will work with ALA's Office of Library Personnel Resources to establish recruitment networks and develop strategies addressing critical recruitment needs. (See recruitment story p. 180.)

Another impending personnel shortage was evident at this year's conference: Schools of information and library science may themselves be facing a shortage of faculty members in the near future. Mirroring the general trend in academia, a "greying" of library faculty has occurred, with many retirements expected in the next few years. What is not clear is whether there will be enough qualified library educators to replace those retiring. Since a large number of library and information science Ph.D.s go into library administration rather than teaching, there may indeed be a shortfall. For those schools attempting to recruit new faculty at the conference, the shortfall appeared to have already arrived: there were fewer candidates interviewing for teaching positions than schools seeking new faculty.

Calls to action

"Faculty Participation in Policy Formulation" was the conference theme chosen by ALISE President Kathleen Heim, dean of Louisiana State University library school. The generally excellent presentations centered around the question, "What is the appropriate role of library and information science faculty members in policy formulation and how can they increase and strengthen that role?" The presentations covered many types of policy including campus, professional association, and government policy.

The first general session, focusing on faculty role in campus policy formulation featured Peggy Sullivan, dean of the College of Professional Studies at Northern Illinois University. Sullivan stressed the importance of the political process on campus and faculty need to develop political skills. She described the tension existing between administration and faculty on most campuses, with the faculty mistrusting management and the administration more willing to share governance than information. She pointed out library educators' strengths and weaknesses in developing political clout. She urged faculty to develop alliances with others across campus and to determine the best use of their efforts. …

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