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Library Faculty Commentary

PA State System of Higher Education

Academic Program Review


5-Year Program Review Report

2010-2011 to 2014-2015

Andruss Library

The faculty librarians welcome this opportunity to comment on their contribution to the Library and to the University, and to review the challenges they face as a department. The faculty librarians’ significant contributions to the University’s mission and to student learning, as documented in the five-year review, have earned us the respect of our academic colleagues. Librarians have full faculty status in the PASSHE system, and Bloomsburg University librarians have been elected to or invited to serve on many important committees and working groups on campus.[1] Our unique collaborative and interdisciplinary perspective has been recognized and is sought by administrators and subject faculty members alike.

Furthermore, since the last Five Year Review the librarians have become more engaged in our students’ development of lifelong information literacy and critical thinking skills. This has occurred in part because of our advocacy of information literacy as a student learning goal in the new General Education Program and also because of the efforts of the new Director of Library Services. The Director has placed greater emphasis on the professional development of librarians as educators through the Teaching Excellence Academy for Librarians (TEAL), a joint initiative of her office and TALE (Teaching and Learning Enhancement) Center. Additionally, the Library Director has sought opportunities for librarian and subject faculty collaboration through her connections at the Dean and Director level. Under the new Director, direct instruction of students by librarians in classes has grown steadily[2].  Not only have librarians increased the amount of classroom instruction they provide, but they also have increased their collaboration and communication with subject faculty in developing course proposals, assignments, curricula, material selection, and so on.

The biggest challenge the library faculty face is our continued low level of staffing[3], which makes it difficult for us to be proactive rather than simply reactive.[4] New roles for librarians continue to evolve in open access and scholarly communication, student learning and curriculum development, digitization of special and unique collections, and consortial sharing of resources, all of which contribute to the University’s strategic goals. It is of great concern to us that BU has the highest ratio of student FTE to library professional staff in the PASSHE system and our peer group: 1397 FTE students per library professional staff member at BU compared to an average of 661 FTE students per library professional staff member at BU’s peers.[5] Not surprisingly, we are falling behind our peers. The librarians can no longer provide leadership within the PASSHE system, the notable exception to this being our cataloging librarian, who has managed to maintain her leadership role in PASSHE, mentoring, advising, and assisting other cataloging units. Although modifying and redistributing responsibilities among librarians and staff has resulted in some efficiencies, the librarians are troubled by being able to do only sufficient, not excellent, work in important areas, with the consequence that they cannot meaningfully move the University toward its professed strategic goal of “academic excellence.”

What the Library sorely needs are additional professionals, skilled in 21st century, technology- rich, student-centered librarianship. Furthermore, new faculty will require time to be mentored and to build collaborative work relationships with subject faculty. The Library stands to lose considerable expertise with not-too-distant-future retirements, and the University will suffer in the long term from its lack of succession planning. Nevertheless, we remain hopeful that the administration will recognize the value that librarians offer, in terms of the University’s mission and student learning, and will provide the Library with at least two more faculty complements in the near future.


[1] These include the General Education Task Force and Committee, the Bloomsburg University Curriculum Committee, the Bloomsburg University Assessment Working Group, Middle States Periodic Review Committee, the University-wide Promotion and Tenure Committees, and the Faculty Professional Development Committee. In addition, library faculty members have served on the TALE Grant and the SPARC Grant Committees, participating in peer review of colleagues’ proposals for internal grants, and have been invited to serve on the departmental evaluation and promotion committees for other academic departments.

[2] From an average of 194 sessions a year (or 38.8 sessions/per librarian) between 2009 and 2011 to 217.5 sessions a year (or 43.5 sessions/per librarian), between 2012 to 2015.

[3] The Library lost 2 additional library faculty positions since the Library’s previous five year review (2010), for a total of 4 of 10 positions lost since 2009 (6 librarians remain). Interestingly, the last time the library had only 6 faculty members was in 1967, when we had a student enrollment of 3,620.

[4] Areas that have been neglected include: establishing an institutional repository of University research and publications, including masters’ theses and doctoral dissertations; greater outreach to academic departments and non-academic departments and units; greater participation and leadership on University-wide committees; continued professional development; comparative analyses in terms of cost and content of vendor databases; collection inventory; completing the organization of unprocessed research material in Special Collections and increasing online access; and less maintenance of the infrastructure that enables users to discover materials.

[5] See APPENDIX B: Andruss Library: Five Year Review Benchmark Charts, Table B4: Library Staff 2014.

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