Wednesday, August 1, 2018
Ernesto A. Longa (Professor of Law Librarianship, New Mexico), The History of the University of New Mexico School of Law Librarians' Fight for Faculty Status and Equal Voting Rights, 110 Law Library J. 93 (2018):
Based on research of over sixty years of archival records, this article presents a case study of the University of New Mexico School of Law librarians’ fight for respect, professional recognition, faculty status, and voting rights in the face of persistent opposition from law school administrators, faculty, and head librarians.
This case study of UNMSOL librarians illustrates a number of challenges law librarians have confronted as they have sought to obtain rights and privileges within their institutions that their academic credentials and professional responsibilities warrant. Poldervaart’s experience reveals that even nationally prominent, dual-degreed librarians who teach legal research and substantive law courses, have respectable publication records, serve on law school committees, and hold appointments on the law faculty often still struggle to be seen by their academic peers as anything more than a second-class member of the law faculty. ...
UNMSOL law librarians became one of only a handful of other academic law librarian groups in the country to acquire equal voting rights at their law school. They did so through a combination of merit-, moral-, and rule-based arguments. Charlotte Schneider has summarized the merit- and moral-based arguments. She argues that it is only fair that librarians who teach, produce scholarship, serve on law school committees, and support the teaching mission and research interests of their law school community through research support, reference services, and collection development “deserve an equal voice with respect to law school governance.” UNMSOL librarians have contributed to this “movement of greater librarian inclusion and participation” in the shared governance of law schools by encouraging law librarians fighting for voting rights to consult university policies that have the potential to inform or even decide the question concerning whether law librarians should have equal voting rights at their law school. The UNM Faculty Constitution bestows full-time law librarians holding professorial rank inalienable voting rights within UNMSOL. UNMSOL librarians won equal voting rights at their school through persuasion rather than coercion, but it was reassuring to know that university policy could be relied on if UNMSOL administration or law faculty failed to do the right thing.