Procedures for Peer Review Committees for NONTENURED tenure-track Library Faculty

(Last Revised 19 October 2006)

Table of Contents:


The following procedures have been developed to provide peer review for nontenured (i.e., not-yet-tenured) tenure-track Library faculty, including new assistant professors and new full or associate professors with an initial term (“Q”) appointment as defined in Provost Communication 5. (By definition Q appointments include an initial probationary period before review for indefinite tenure. Length of probationary period for a Q appointment is set at the time the appointment is made.)

Special, shorter duration (i.e., 1 academic year) Peer Review Committees are also appointed to perform one-time reviews for tenured Library faculty seeking promotion to a higher rank and tenured Library faculty requesting a special broader faculty review in accord with the terms of Provost Communication 21. The procedures for Peer Review Committees for tenured Library faculty are described in a separate document.


Peer Review Committees, once known as “visiting committees” and originally developed to provide evaluative comments only in the area of librarianship to support a candidate’s promotion papers, have substantially expanded in scope over time. There is a new, evaluative emphasis so that candidates in the probationary period will have better feedback and earlier notification of problem areas. In addition, Peer Review Committees will now assess all three areas — librarianship, research and service — during the probationary period. Peer Review Committee reports follow the format of Provost Communication 9: Promotion and Tenure. The process also provides opportunities for informal discussion of progress in all three areas of consideration during the probationary period.

Peer Review Committee Reviews are conducted during the spring semester each year. Schedule and timeline milestones are defined in the Master Calendar for P & T, Peer Review, and Annual Faculty Review. Peer Review Committees are encouraged to meet informally at any time with candidates to review progress, discuss upcoming evaluation, discuss procedural changes, etc. The annual review process will produce a formal report from the Peer Review Committee at 0Y or 1Y, 2Y, 3Y, 4Y, and 5Y.

Composition of Committee

During his or her first year as a tenure-track member of the Library faculty, a Peer Review Committee is appointed for each nontenured tenured-track member of the Library faculty by the University Librarian, in consultation with the Library Executive Committee. Thereafter and throughout the probationary period, the assigned Peer Review Committee formally reviews the faculty member’s progress towards tenure on an annual basis in accord with the procedures described here. Ideally the committee includes at least one person from the Division with which the candidate is affiliated. If possible, the committee should not include a faculty member who works in the same library unit as the candidate undergoing review. It is normally expected that the composition of the committee will remain the same (barring resignation, retirement, sabbaticals, etc.) until a decision has been made regarding tenure or promotion (i.e. a committee established when a candidate is 0Y or 1Y may serve six years or until the candidate is recommended for promotion and tenure). However, the composition of the committee may be changed for a valid reason at the request of the candidate or the Peer Review Committee members by submitting a formal request to the University Librarian.

Preliminary Information and Meetings

As soon as possible after the Peer Review Committee is assigned, the Peer Review Committee provides preliminary information to the candidate.

  1. Peer Review Committee ensures that candidate has the URL and/or copies of:

    N.B. The Office of the Provost’s web site,, has additional information pertaining to promotion and tenure, (FAQ ), Rollbacks, Sabbaticals, and Leaves of absence, etc.)

  2. Candidate will supply to Peer Review Committee:
    • Current curriculum vitae
    • Job description and/or statement of primary responsibilities
  3. Peer Review Committee meets informally with candidate to:
    • Make introductions
    • Communicate criteria for evaluation.
    • Share process and procedures for evaluation, including a review of the documents cited above.
    • Discuss candidate’s primary responsibilities and priorities and personal goals in librarianship, research, and service.
    • Discuss importance of selecting outside reviewers.

The Peer Review Committee Review and Report

Each year the candidate and both Peer Review Committee members should begin by reviewing carefully the form of the campus promotion dossier (see documents referenced above and Appendix 1 of this document, “Outline of Promotion Dossier “).A complete and current dossier is the core of each year’s Peer Review Committee report. As described below the candidate and the Peer Review Committee both have responsibilities in preparing the Peer Review Committee Report. Generally informational sections of the dossier, documenting the candidate’s goals and accomplishments to date, are the responsibility of the candidate; the evaluative sections the responsibility of the Peer Review Committee — though the Peer Review Committee also is encouraged to provide constructive suggestions to the candidate for improving the candidate’s sections of the dossier. Space is provided at the end of each year’s Peer Review Committee Report for the candidate to comment on the evaluative sections of the report if the candidate is so inclined. In preparing each year’s Peer Review Committee Report please keep in mind that for the dossier portion of the report, format is to be based on the format expected by the campus for promotion and tenure dossiers. Campus guidelines for promotion dossiers are typically updated every year. While every effort is made to synchronize Appendix 1 of this document with campus guidelines for promotion and tenure (i.e., Provost Communication #9), Peer Review Committees are advised to adhere to the campus guidelines in the event of a conflict in format specification between current campus guidelines and Appendix 1 of this document.

Annual Sequence of Events

0Y or 1Y, 2Y, 3Y, 4Y and 5Y & all Q years:

  1. The Peer Review Committee will provide candidate with any revisions to relevant documentation & guidelines.
  2. Candidate will supply to Peer Review Committee:

    The dossier format incorporates information from:

    • Annual report
    • Current curriculum vitae
    • Statement of primary responsibilities
    • Statements of goals and accomplishments for librarianship, service, & research.
  3. The Peer Review Committee meets with unit head or other appropriate faculty member to discuss candidate’s performance in carrying out primary responsibilities and priorities.
  4. The Peer Review Committee meets with candidate to review procedures and discuss evaluation criteria. During these scheduled meetings, the Peer Review Committee is expected to:
    • Review procedures and discuss the significance of formal evaluation.
    • Review the candidate’s accomplishments and progress in librarianship.
    • Review the candidate’s progress and accomplishments in research & service.
    • Provide constructive suggestions to the candidate for improving the candidate’s sections of the dossier.
    • 3Y and 5Y reviews: discuss with candidate which publication(s) would be best to send to external evaluators.
  5. The Peer Review Committee then gathers evaluative data and adds to the candidate-supplied dossier the evaluative portions. The Peer Review Committee also will append a signature sheet to the dossier (format as described below).
  6. Except in the case of 3Y reviews a copy of the now completed dossier is provided to the candidate. The Peer Review Committee then meets with the candidate to discuss the dossier in full and to share assessment of candidate’s progress in three areas: librarianship, service, and research and publication. In the case of 3Y reviews, the completed dossier is first reviewed by the Library Promotion & Tenure Advisory Committee and the University Librarian, BEFORE being shared with and discussed with the candidate. PTA’s role is to advise the University Librarian about whether the candidate shows sufficient potential in his/her progress towards tenure to be retained. When meeting with the Peer Review Committee to discuss the evaluative sections of the dossier, the candidate will be asked to sign the signature sheet appended to the dossier by the Peer Review Committee (see details below). The candidate’s signature attests to the candidate’s receipt of the document and also to his/her understanding of its contents; it does not imply the candidate’s agreement with the content of the evaluative sections of the dossier. The candidate may add comments or responses to the evaluative sections of the dossier as authored by the Committee. The Peer Review Committee members also sign and date the report.
  7. The Peer Review Committee then adds covering material as described below and submits a copy of all as per instructions in the current year’s Master Calendar for P & T, Peer Review, and Annual Faculty Review (see link on Index of Promotion & Tenure, Peer Review, and Annual Faculty Review Documents).

Evaluation of Librarianship

The Peer Review Committee interviews referees regarding librarianship, synthesizes this information, and makes evaluative statements about the individual’s progress. Each year the candidate’s Unit Head, Division Coordinator, or other appropriate Library faculty member should be included among the referees consulted regarding candidate’s accomplishments and progress in area of librarianship. See Appendix 2 for suggestions of internal (librarianship) referees to consult; Appendix 3 for possible areas of review to discuss with referees; Appendix 4 for guidelines for interviewing internal referees; and Appendix 6 for sample questions for use by Peer Review Committees. Recommended guidelines for which and how many referees to consult for review of Librarianship vary by tenure code year as follows:

  • 0Y and 1Y: Interview Library faculty.
  • 2Y: Interviews Library faculty and, where appropriate, at least one colleague on campus outside the library who can speak to candidate’s librarianship.
  • 3Y: Interviews Library faculty and where appropriate three additional persons including, for example: head(s)/chair(s) of liaison department(s); chair of liaison departmental library committee; and other colleagues as appropriate pertaining to the candidate’s librarianship.
  • 4Y and 5Y: Interviews Library faculty and where appropriate at least three additional persons including, for example: head(s)/chair(s) of liaison department(s); chair of liaison departmental library committee; and other colleagues as appropriate.

Evaluation of Research and Service

The Peer Review Committee gathers evaluations from others relating to research and service and synthesizes this information into an evaluation of the individual’s progress in areas of service and research. See Appendix 2 for appropriate types of internal and external referees to consult regarding service and research. Recommended guidelines for which and how many referees to consult for review of Service and Research vary by tenure code year as follows:

  • 0Y or 1Y, 2Y– Interviews at least one UIUC librarian or colleague, in addition to the immediate supervisor, who can address progress towards research, and/or service. Develop a list of external evaluators, with some biographical information.
  • 3Y — Consults two or more individuals, at least one from a peer institution and not UIUC, qualified to serve as referees for research and service evaluation. In selecting external referee(s) the Peer Review Committee should be guided by the same considerations used to select external referees asked to comment on suitability of a candidate for promotion and tenure. (It is not uncommon for an external referee who has provided a quality review at 3Y to then be asked to serve as a referee for the same candidate or another candidate at the time of promotion and tenure.) See Appendix 5 for sample letter soliciting an external evaluation; however, please note, in the case of external referees consulted for 3Y review, the University Librarian’s office actually contacts the external referee and solicits the review. The Peer Review Committee’s responsibility is to identify the external referee(s) and provide necessary contact information. See link to Master Calendar for P & T, Peer Review, and Annual Faculty Review on the Index of Promotion & Tenure, Peer Review, and Annual Faculty Review Documents for details on schedule for providing name of external referee(s) to the University Librarian’s Office.
  • 4Y and 5Y –Interviews with at least two Library faculty and, where appropriate, external referees who can evaluate research and service.

Preparation of Peer Review Committee Report

  1. The candidate supplies the Peer Review Committee with his/her completed outline for the Promotion dossier in an electronic form, including the candidate’s statements of librarianship, service, and research goals and objectives. The candidate writes all but the evaluation sections. The Peer Review Committee writes the evaluation sections.
  2. The formal report shall be written in a narrative style and of professional quality high enough to be included in promotion and tenure documentation. The final Peer Review Committee’s written report includes:
    • A cover sheet for FRC listing the following: Candidate’s name, title, tenure status (0Y or 1Y, 2Y, etc.), divisional affiliation, names and titles of referees contacted in preparation of the report, and names and titles of the Peer Review Committee members.
    • The Peer Review Committee completes sections IIIB. Evaluation of Librarianship and Instruction; IVB Evaluation of Service; VB. Departmental Evaluation of Research Accomplishments, and integrates these into the electronic document to create one cohesive document. Referees may be quoted, but should not be identified by name. For example, the report should not say Professor Appletree said, “I have never known such a splendid librarian in my 40 years on this campus.” It should say, instead, a Professor in the Classics Department stated, “I have….”
    • An end sheet with signatures and dates from Peer Review Committee members and candidate. This should bear the following wording for the candidate: “I have read the evaluative sections of this report.” (See Appendix 6 for Instructions to individual’s needing to respond to Peer Review Committee report). Similarly, for the Peer Review Committee members the following statement should be included, “We have discussed the content of this report with the candidate.”

    Peer Review Committee reports for the following years will address points appropriate to candidates tenure status year, for example:

    • 3Y — The Peer Review Committee focuses on a candid statement of the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses in all areas. A strong component of this should be constructive feedback.
    • 4Y — The Peer Review Committee completes the “Evaluation of Future Potential” section. To assist the preparer of promotion papers at 5Y, include lists of internal and external referees:
      • List of at least 5 appropriate internal referees who would be qualified to write evaluative letters for the candidate (pertaining to librarianship) For individuals who work in a library unit that directly serves a University College or Department, this list MUST include either the department head/chair or the chair of the departmental library committee.
      • List of at least 5 external referees (for evaluation of research and service)
    • 5Y — Peer Review Committee, upon completion of its final report will deposit all pertinent archival files to the University Librarian’s Office.
  3. Final Peer Review Committee report is distributed and discussed with the candidate as described above. (Be sure to follow the special procedures for the 3Y report as outlined above.) Candidate signs copy of written report as acknowledgment of receipt of the report. Candidate can add comments or responses to the written report — these must be forwarded with the final report to the University Librarian’s Office. The candidate may request a meeting with FRC (4Y, 5Y, and all Q years) or PTA Committee (0Y – 3Y) to clarify procedures or express concerns.
  4. Peer Review Committee maintains archival files that would allow for continuity in the event that Peer Review Committee membership changes. These files are confidential and are kept by the members of the Peer Review Committee until the completion of the promotion and tenure process or until the candidate leaves the university. At that time, the files, including all formal notes and other records, will be transferred to the University Librarian’s Office. See Appendix 7 for items to include in archival files.
  5. If Peer Review Committee members become aware of concerns that are not appropriately covered in the PRC report due to confidentiality issues, a supplementary letter can be submitted to the University Librarian’s Office which addresses those concerns.

Q Contracts

The Office of the Provost’s Communication No. 5 states with regard to Q contracts, “Normally, the initial term of the “Q” appointment may be for up to four years, with the final year being the terminal year, if necessary. In unusual circumstances, a term beyond four years may be considered. By the end of the penultimate year (at the latest), a determination must be made whether the person will be recommended for tenure or whether the appointment at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign will terminate at the end of the next year.”

For example, Peer Review Committees for faculty with 4Q Contracts should conduct a stringent review procedure in the first year since the second year would have the candidate preparing tenure papers for consideration the following fall.

For example, Peer Review Committees for faculty with four-year Q contracts should proceed as follows:

  • The 1st annual review for 4Q appointment candidate would be the equivalent of the 4Y review;
  • The 2nd annual review for 4Q appointment candidate would be the equivalent of the 5Y review;
  • which creates the starting point for the tenure dossier that will be submitted in the fall of that year.In other words:
    1Q = 4Y
    2Q = 5Y
    3Q = Papers evaluated/tenure decision made
    4Q = terminal year if not granted tenure


This document is maintained jointly by the Library Faculty Review Committee and the Library Promotion and Tenure Advisory Committee. Comments and suggestions for edits should be forwarded to the attention of those committees.
Editor for this version: Timothy W. Cole.