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What to Include in Director Evaluations
By Bobbie Studwell,
It's not easy to evaluate an academic law library director, but it is necessary. Otherwise, who knows how great the library director really is?! The problem is deciding what criteria to include that will both inform a dean about what a director does and will make a law school community realize the indispensable role of the director in the law school operation.
As the "blind man and the elephant" fable instructs, everyone has a different idea of what a director is or should be. Deans, faculty, and staff may have difficulty agreeing on the criteria for a perfect, fair, and meaningful evaluation form. Compounding the difficulty are the unique characteristics of the 180+ U.S. law schools and the varying commitment of deans to the evaluation process.
Do we, or should we, care? A few correspondents asked me this question recently after my article on "Evaluating Academic Law Library Directors" appeared in The Law Library Journal. They ultimately answered that we should care unless we want to be marginalized or replaced with someone who may not possess the same service ethics as ourselves.
One of the respondents suggested that ALL-SIS work with the directors' group to establish criteria for a standardized form. He suggested that deans would prefer a form which was simple and which could be modified to fit the needs of an individual law school. In addition, I would like to see a form which would instruct deans on our unique role within the law school and which would delineate the criteria we think are important in evaluating performances.
If you are interested in participating in this process, our Chair Tory Trotta suggested that the discussion could begin at the Directors' meeting in Philadelphia. Subsequent discussions would be scheduled to follow that meeting, to be conducted by email, or by other means. If you agree... if you have ideas for beginning the discussion... if you already have a dandy form to share... please contact Larry Meyer or me at our addresses listed below.
Let me begin the discussion in advance by saying that I know this topic is controversial. I know this is a time-consuming process. If we can agree, however, on a core set of functions and how to evaluate them, I am willing to commit the time and energy to keep our discussion going. Overall, I believe this task can be fun and I know that it will be instructive.
James G. Durham
Publications and Reference Librarian
South Texas College of Law Library
1303 San Jacinto Street
Houston, Texas 77002-7000
Last updated: March 22, 2000