Task Force to Investigate Possible Use of the Specialized Faculty within the University Library

Task Force on the Possible Use of the Specialized Faculty within the University Library
Mary Laskowski (chair), Tom Habing, JoAnn Jacoby, Bill Mischo

The Executive Committee charged a small group to investigate the potential issues and benefits in hiring and possibly converting existing AP positions to specialized faculty (see Provost Communication #25). Though all members of the task force had concerns and questions about issues raised with moving forward, mainly that we want to avoid any situation where we are encouraging the campus administration to force positions into the specialized faculty category, all felt that the potential benefits made the conversation worth continuing at the broader Library level.

Hypothesis for Discussion Purposes:

We are working from the assumption that incorporating Specialized Faculty in the Library advances our organization by creating a category for more operationally-oriented librarians, archivists and conservators.


  • The use of specialized faculty may provide a more robust career path with clear levels of promotion as opposed to current academic professional appointments.
  • Some existing and newly created positions may be most appropriately classed as specialized faculty instead of academic professionals, which may help alleviate problems with PAPE approvals, union concerns, etc.
  • This may help with recruitment, creating positions that may be more attractive to candidates who are looking for faculty positions focused on an area of practice rather than requiring the research and service components.


  • Use of specialized faculty may be a slippery slope, and campus may push specialized faculty appointments in place of tenure-track faculty appointments for the Library.
  • The use of specialized faculty may deepen the divide between technical/central services and public services, decreasing the rich opportunity for research and innovation in core services.
  • If we try to adopt specialized faculty in addition to both tenure-track positions and AP’s we may muddy the water further rather than clarifying the differences.


Discussion/Questions and Steps Taken:

  • Major difference between clinical faculty and tenure-track faculty is that clinical faculty (and all specialized faculty) focus on research, teaching, or service, not all three as tenure-track faculty do.
  • Contacted Mary Case at UIC for feedback, and reviewed UIC documentation on the use of specialized faculty found at <http://library.uic.edu/home/about-us/library-faculty-research>.
  • UIC basically determines whether a position should be tenure-track or clinical based on area of responsibility, as in most technical services, access services, and IT position would be clinical, while subject specialists and reference librarians would be tenure-track.
  • Contacted Paul Bracke at Purdue – Library not allowed to use the clinical faculty status. Limited to people in health sciences and vet med. Ongoing debate regarding AP versus civil service. AP position called “professional librarian.” Used for data specialists, people with no need to publish. “Professional Librarian” position does not require service or research.
  • Reviewed the Executive Committee policy titled “Distinctions in Expectations and Responsibilities between Senior Library Specialist, Library Operations Associate, Academic Professional, and Library Faculty Positions” found at http://www.library.illinois.edu/committee/exec/supplement/s2011-2012/DistinctioninExpectations.html.
  • Need to determine what role clinical faculty play in library governance…eligible to vote at faculty meetings? Serve on EC? What does the PTAC committee look like?
  • Job descriptions are often reclassified to fit into the hiring plan, separation between EC and Budget Group process for faculty/AP and civil service positions. Need to look at positions across the whole range.
  • The specialized faculty most likely to be used in the Library are clinical faculty and research faculty, and the definitions used for this discussion are derived from Provost Communication #25 and clarified in the revised EC document outlining our different classifications (LOA/AP/specialized faculty/tenure-track faculty).



  • First revise and adopt the “Statement on Promotion and Tenure”
  • Classification should be determined when the vacancy is approved and the job description created, not by individual preferences.
  • Clarify with campus regarding replacing “teaching” with “librarianship” as we do for our current tenure-track system.
  • Investigate the possibility of changing some existing AP positions to clinical or research faculty.
  • Update bylaws to allow specialized faculty to serve on the Executive Committee, but only up to two seats.
  • Allow specialized faculty to vote as members of the faculty, except on issues specifically related to tenure.
  • Update Promotion and Tenure Advisory Committee charge and roster to include election process and evaluation for specialized faculty. Specialized faculty will not vote on tenure-track cases, but a combined committee will evaluate specialized faculty, as is done at UIC.
  • The number of specialized faculty should be driven by the nature of the position. (Is there a minimum number of tenure-track faculty required to keep us operational in terms of tenure process, etc.? We already sometimes have problems staffing our full professor cases)



  • UGL Instructional Librarian – clinical faculty, different from Susan Avery’s faculty position in scope and responsibilities
  • Assessment Librarian, campus pushed to AP but perhaps more appropriate as clinical faculty
  • Uni High, preference would have been tenure-track, but if that was not a possibility clinical faculty would have been more appropriate than AP
  • Rare Book Conservator; Senior Special Collections Conservator
  • Some IT AP positions perhaps should have been clinical faculty, or perhaps research faculty (Tom Habing, Kirk Hess, Bill Ingram)