Resources for Future Directors — Outline & Checklist

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Created by Carissa J. Vogel, University of Washington, May 2008

In early 2005, a group of directors started to identify skills, experience, and knowledge that the next generation of law librarians needed to acquire in order to be ready to become directors. This discussion lead to a workshop in 2005 and article in 2007 called Rebuilding the Profession.

The following is an outline of the 2007 article, Rebuilding the Profession: Recommendations for Librarians Interested in Becoming Academic Law Library Directors, 99 Law Libr. J. 101 (2007) (PDF), with a few minor additions. It is meant to be a checklist to help law librarians identify resources for the skills they need to build and knowledge they need to acquire in order to prepare and apply for directorships. This outline is made up of a series of expandable items with embedded links. Each of the nine embedded links directs the user to a resource page with articles, books, programs and conferences.




Preparing to be an academic law library director—what the job entails and what you need to do to be ready to be the boss

Directors need to balance administrative demands against requirements to achieve tenure

  • General Information 
  • Administrative Skills
    • Manage library operations
      • Familiarity with business literature on effective management
      • Familiarity with technology and computing systems of the law school
      • Personnel management skills
        • To do: Gain supervisory experience
      • An understanding of how to use money strategically
        • To do: Seize opportunities to manage money
      • Leadership skills and a vision for your organization
        • Be able to articulate the vision
        • Know how to support and motivate subordinates
    • Manage law school involvement
      • Know how to be a team player
        • Be aware of the demands on the law school’s resources
        • Support the law school’s mission
          • Do not publicly complain about the institution
          • Do not sit back and allow yourself to be overlooked
    • Know how to negotiate
      • Understand what is needed to make the library a success in order to recognize when to be flexible and when to stay firm
    • Advocate for the library
      • Understand that the school is driven by rankings
      • To do: Practice creating sound bites
    • Manage yourself
      • Manage your time
      • Manage your work—know when and how to delegate responsibilities
        • To do: Learn to articulate an expected result, give up control, and let the other person decide how to meet the goal
      • Maintain a sense of humor and perspective
    • Faculty Responsibilities—what will be expected once you start on the path to tenure
      • Tenure and Institutional Governance
        • Generally:
          • To do: Be aware of tenure trends affecting law library directors
            • Develop your case for faculty status of law library directors
            • Receive law school and university tenure rules regarding faculty responsibilities
            • Negotiate faculty-level support
            • Maintain competence in field and continue to engage in intellectual pursuits through research, scholarship, and writing
          • Institutional governance
            • Faculty responsibility for decision-making and policy-making of the law school
        • Academic Freedom:
          • Application to academic law libraries
            • Consultation with faculty about library collection and policies
            • Consultation with faculty about research projects
            • Development of library services and programs
            • Collection development to support research, even unpopular and/or controversial topics
            • Protects academic writing and teaching of library staff
        • Scholarship:
          • Process of evaluating publications
            • Placement of publications
            • Nature of publications
            • Number of publications
            • University rules about evaluation
              • Evaluation within the field of study
            • Advice from Rebuilding the Profession:
              • Pick topics relating to law librarianship, information policy, intellectual property, legal publishing, pedagogy of legal research, etc.
              • Pick something of importance within the field
              • Work on an original idea or argument
              • Houdek recommends showing that you are director material through pre-director scholarship focused on library or info-orientated topics
                • Houdek also noted that this helps to provide the boundaries of your work
            • To do: Try to publish one substantive article before looking for a position as a director
            • To do: Create a file to keep track of your presentations
        • Service (to the law school, the university, the profession)
          • Impact on law or librarianship, depending on where you are up for tenure
            • Leadership contributions
            • Contributions on the local, state, national, or international level
            • Advice from Rebuilding the Profession:
              • To do: In the beginning, focus on service to law school and be aware of political ramifications of some committee service
                • Limit work to one or two committees
              • Wait to start more involved commitment work: 4 to 5 years into your job or until you get tenure
        • Teaching:
          • Pre-tenure period: work out teaching package
          • To do: Take advantage of opportunities to teach
            • Offer individual research classes
            • Create short workshops
            • Find substantive classes not being taught and develop a seminar
            • CAUTION:
              • Teaching in a library school does not count for law school tenure
              • Teaching often does not provide any additional pay
          • To do: When teaching, you must do a good job
            • Build your understanding of how adults learn
            • Use technology in the classroom and use it well
            • Prepare and practice presentations
            • Pay attention to student evaluations
            • Go to teaching seminars and programs
    • Job experience
      • Career path:
        • Typical path is 8–10 years: reference librarian → head of reference → head of public services → associate law librarian → director
        • Untraditional paths also work
        • Important part is building on experience and skills

 

Ready to take on the job?

Finding and interviewing for the job as an academic law library director

  • Interview Process
    • Job search and preparing your application
      • Respond directly to institution OR
      • Be nominated by a faculty member, director, or dean
    • Long process of weeks or months
    • Pre-interview preparation
      • Pre-interview or telephone interview, then an invite to a full-fledged interview
      • Preparation means looking at faculty interests, special programs, names and
        • Status (whether or not the job a tenure-track position)
          • Tenure or continuing appointment standards
        • Administrative responsibilities
    • The Interview
      • Search committee mostly made up of faculty—hiring will be decided by faculty vote
        • Faculty will look at what they know: teaching, scholarship, service
        • Faculty are not as familiar with administrative work
      • The interview process might require several visits
      • Candidates evaluated on formal and informal interactions:
        • Formal presentation, especially important for faculty position
          • The Search Committee might have very specific expectations
        • Small group
        • Meeting with the Dean
          • Does not make the hiring decision, but decides on the terms of the offer
    • Post-interview—follow-up questions and negotiations
      • After the interview, the Search Committee might:
        • Cold call faculty at your institution
        • Request your teaching evaluations
        • Ask additional questions
      • During the negotiation, be reasonable about goals of the job, do not over-commit because renegotiating will be more difficult