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Navigating the gate keepers: A mixed method study of early career librarians in the tenure process

Judith Ann Wolfe, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

The "gate keepers" oversee the enforcement of the rules, set by the university, for those seeking tenure. This elite club decides what counts, how it is completed and evaluated, and where to set the equity bar. The pre-tenured librarian expects to be treated with openness and fairness but may be met with bias and secrecy. Without a network or mentoring system many early-career librarians are not reappointed, are denied tenure, and become dropouts in the last year of the tenure process. ^ This study explores mentoring functions as they relate to joining the "club" within an academic library. This study also identifies characteristics of mentoring that are similar to characteristics of a transformational leader and characteristics of mentoring that are similar to psychosocial support. This study was pursued with the belief that mentoring benefits the early career librarians who must navigate through the tenure process. ^ Because recruitment and retention are costly it is important for the library to retain library faculty and to assist them through the tenure process. It is equally important to replace departed library faculty. The pre-tenured librarian may enter the job market and profession with little or no academic experience so it is critical to provide a mentoring program to assist the librarian in professional growth. ^ This study provided evidence that mentoring programs assist the pre-tenured librarian in building a strong portfolio and developing confidence, while providing an overall easier time of becoming acculturated. This study also revealed that both mentors and mentees agree to the value of the support a mentoring program provides. It has been shown in the literature, that librarians who are not assisted through the tenure process most often do not become culturally savvy, do not receive promotions, or do not remain at the university. ^ The research questions were addressed through an explanatory sequential mixed method two phased approach. The first phase's survey population was drawn from 113 Association of Research Libraries members. In the second phase of the study, data was collected through interviews with librarians from three tenure granting academic libraries. ^ T-test analysis indicated that there was no significant difference between mentees and mentors measured for three of the "Four Is," of transformational leadership (inspirational motivation, individualized consideration, or intellectual stimulation). There was, however, a significant difference between the views of mentors and mentees for idealized influence. Sequential equation analysis supported the rejection of both null hypotheses. ^ The coded transcription provided supporting evidence that not all of the "Four I's" are considered important. Three themes emerged. (1), idealized influence was marginalized by the interviewee's responses. (2), individual consideration was confirmed as important. (3), the psychosocial support characteristic of trust was regarded as highly important by all interviewees. ^

Subject Area

Library Science|Education, Leadership

Recommended Citation

Wolfe, Judith Ann, "Navigating the gate keepers: A mixed method study of early career librarians in the tenure process" (2012). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3504005.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI3504005

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