New Rank and Promotion System for Professional Librarians Recognizes Information Expertise

Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan R. Wente and the deans of the schools and colleges have approved a new rank and promotion system for Vanderbilt’s professional librarians to go into effect on September 1. The move brings Vanderbilt in line with the practices of other research institutions, where librarian performance is incentivized and rewarded. The new system is the result of a multi-year study of Association of Research Libraries (ARL) models and internal models of successful librarianship at Vanderbilt.

The rank and promotion system reflects the recommendations of the 2015 Future of the Libraries Committee to reinforce “the shift from libraries as collections to librarians as contributors to learning, teaching, and research across campus and the global academy.” It is also in keeping with institutional attempts to more closely connect the work of individual librarians to the departments and Schools as evidenced in last year’s Collections Initiatives and Librarian contributions to the University’s Trans-Institutional Programs.

“Our deans and our faculty colleagues recognize the importance of a well-trained and intellectually nimble library staff to the successful collaborations we seek to foster across campus,” said Vice Provost for Learning and Residential Affairs Cynthia J. Cyrus. “Vastly expanded resources and new technologies require our librarians to demonstrate expertise, creativity, and innovation to help campus constituents produce new knowledge. I am grateful to the staff who worked over the past three years to develop this program, particularly Associate Director of the Divinity Library, Bobby Smiley.”

In the Librarians’ rank and promotion system, standard criteria include professional performance and service to the profession; effective collaboration across the University; and continuing professional development, including research or publication. Promotion is based on demonstrated merit and achievement. Vanderbilt faculty members will be involved in the evaluation process, providing letters of recommendation or evaluations for librarians’ promotion dossiers, which also rely on internal and external peer and administrative review.

“A system of promotion in rank is evidence of Vanderbilt’s commitment to research and learning,” says University Librarian Valerie Hotchkiss. “The promotion review process will support the recruitment and retention of great librarians, while providing a platform for their continued growth and performance. This is good for our national stature as a research library.”

For students, faculty, and staff seeking support or more information about Library resources, the departmental librarians are found here.

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