Open Access Tenure: Support Structure
I worked from home yesterday (more on that in a bit) but it means that today I’m all screwed up. I kept saying it was Monday today. But tomorrow is Wednesday and then we’ll be halfway through a week that is going past at an alarming rate.
Tenure support comes in a variety of ways from my institution. This is not always true across universities, I’ve heard other places that do more and other places that do less. It’s certainly something to ask about when interviewing. Tenure track librarians at my institution get time, money, mentors, and meetings.
Time: We are allotted 15 research days per year. These are days to not be in the building, to work on your papers, to find some uninterrupted time to get through a pile of articles, to develop a presentation, whatever it is that you need to do. My current supervisors has been very encouraging of my taking these days–which I usually have to schedule a couple of months in advance. At my last quarterly meeting with her, she told me to schedule days out for the spring right now so that they were there and meetings wouldn’t get put on top of them. When the days come up, I stay home and work on a lot of those things I keep meaning to get to but just can’t seem to find the focus. Monday was a research day for me. Having these dedicated days that I can take is a huge bonus. Also, those research days do NOT include conferences. While I may need to take a couple as I get more involved in presenting papers and such, right now my conference attendance has been included in my professional development and I’ve been granted that time. This year I will have between 9-12 weekdays that I’ll be attending conferences, so you can see how all of this adds up. (And yes, I do still answer email and such when I’m on research days and at conferences, I just don’t have my email up all day.)
Money: As tenure track faculty, we get $1500 a year towards conference expenses, memberships and professional development fees. Now, granted, this doesn’t cover everything by any stretch of the imagination. This year for me it covered ALA Annual and Midwinter registration, a webinar, my MLA dues, and because we have some extra funds this year, it will cover a couple of plane tickets and my hotel in Anaheim. Depending on how I price things out, this might also go for a year of AMIA dues. There’s a group of faculty who review the expenses just to make sure it’s not outrageous or really bizarre. With most things the business office will handle the registration or buying of the plane tickets, hotels are the only thing I have had to get reimbursement for. One does have to fill out extra paperwork if staying at a non-conference hotel. I don’t know why but that’s how they handle things. I have to look into what extra paperwork that over this next week before I go to Computers in Libraries.
Mentor: When a new faculty member starts tenure, they are assigned a tenure mentor. Relationships between mentors are highly varied but the goal is to have someone outside of your regular department with whom you can talk about your progress. My mentor is one of the AULs. He and I meet every six weeks or so to talk about what I’m working on, status of things that I’m doing, what’s been accomplished. While I don’t report to him, this is an accountability check for me. I need to know what I’m doing to talk about it with him and he has a timeline on what I’ve told him about that helps me put things in perspective as well. A project that I felt took forever really only lasted four months. Because he’s not in my building or on my side of campus, he’s not involved in my every day work so there’s the opportunity to step out of that and look more at a larger picture rather than getting bogged down in a minor detail. Once I get to my third year, a second mentor will be added on to help with the paperwork.
Meetings: I’m in a lot of meetings. More than I’d like most weeks. But one of those meetings every month is everyone in my building who is presently tenure track with a few people who are already tenured. This is a brown bag style meeting (though not at lunch), with people reporting on current projects, getting directions and suggestions, offering up surveys or articles for review. It’s an interesting window into what other people are working on in my department–our department meetings are limited to what we need to know, what new books are in, what crazy patron we’ve all been dealing with at the desk rather than the grand thoughts we’re thinking. This group is pretty solid at asking “so why do we care about this?”–kindly but still with an emphasis on trying not to write things up just for the sake of writing and submitting.
And here I thought this would be a short post. So that’s what my institution does for me. Please let me know if there is anything that isn’t clear or something you’d like to know about our process.