Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Yearly performance reviews & job satisfaction

Appropriately enough, April 1st is the due date for annual performance review submission to the personnel office. Non-tenured academic faculty members, librarians are on a yearly contract renewal based upon performance. My boss subscribes to the self-evaluation model for performance reviews and as such I am required to submit documentation supporting goals from the previous year, a listing of accomplishments, and set goals for the next academic year. Sounds simple, right? Not so much.

An organized soul, though in all fairness anal is probably more fitting, I learned early in my career here to keep a detailed calendar (paper, believe it or not) and a document listing monthly activities. These items are irrefutable life saving measures when the inevitable email arrives scheduling our review conferences with the director. Now the challenge will be locating last year's review on my desktop and coordinating it into some semblance of order with my list. As with so many other ventures I am not looking for brilliance; I want to appear knowledgeable, confident, and have a positive impact on the library.

While pondering my performance review document, I found an article in the February 1, 2008 edition of Library Journal. Take this Job and Love It, by Andrew Richard Albanese, is part of the LJ series on job satisfaction.

"The survey, however, also amplifies some persistent challenges facing librarians, including keeping up with rapidly changing technology, stressed budgets, management and career advancement issues, campus politics, concern over their role in the academic enterprise, and, of course, low pay." (Albanese -- Library Journal, 2/1/08)

There were many interesting points raised within the article, several of which caught my attention. In particular issues regarding the MLS education:

"If there is one great irony in librarianship, it is this: librarians can't afford to get the MLS, and libraries can't afford to hire those with it." (Albanese -- Library Journal, 2/1/08)

I was in that position, still am for that matter as I have a year left on my student loan for my MLIS (from Pitt it is a master's in library and information science). Prior to getting my masters I was working in a public library making minimum wage. The only librarian on staff was the director, the rest of us were support staff. Caught between the proverbial rock and hard place, no promotion without a degree and not enough money in the current position to afford the degree, I chose the debt route and worked straight through getting the degree in one year. Now, at least, I can afford to pay for the degree that helped me get this job.

It is not something I regret, in fact this is without a doubt the best job I have ever had. But I do wonder about the status of librarians and librarianship in academics. The first article in this series, Great Work, Genuine Problems (10/1/07) is available on the LJ web site and it is reported the third article in the series will be/was published in March (wonder where our March Library Journal might be?).

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