Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Charlotte D. Schneider (Reference Librarian, Rutgers), Inclusion and Participation: Law Librarians at Law Faculty Meetings, 107 Law Libr. J. 113 (2015):
Despite the vital role they play in the success of their law schools, academic law librarians are often denied attendance to and participation in law faculty meetings on certain matters of law school governance. This article argues that including qualified librarians in faculty meeting discussions and decision making will benefit law schools, faculty, and students alike.
Law faculty meetings represent an amalgamation of conversations, ranging from substantive to social, all focused on or coming back to the institution’s direction in legal education and the success of its student body and faculty. While it is hard to quantify these successes, they can often be sensed by way of the acknowledgments by doctrinal faculty for scholarly research support and in the employment outcomes of the student body who impress employers with their knowledge of research materials and processes. These successes directly impact school rankings and the number of potential applicants, and they can be easily traced back to law librarians’ contributions within the legal academy.
Academic law librarians are such an integral part of legal education and yet often lack the right to contribute a voice to the ongoing success of their law school and its student body. These librarians often have the educational equivalent of voting faculty and are likely to contribute to their industry very much like those doctrinal faculties, even without the implicit encouragement of being on a tenure track.
These librarian-professors, very much like their doctrinal brethren, are invested in the success of their students and even contribute to better employment placements for students, but are still overlooked as a voice to contribute to matters concerning the student body. These librarian-professors are likely to also take on course loads that are not just foundational to the success of the law students but essential for their later success in the practice of law. Required legal research courses should not be limited to only the first-year curriculum but should also be an integral part of the upper-level curriculum because research is a necessary skill for postgraduation employment. This urgency in focusing on legal research instruction in law school demands that legal research educators—law librarians—be a part of discussions and votes that take place at faculty meetings. Librarian attendance and participation at faculty meetings will only add support for the continued success of the legal academy and legal education as a whole.