T is for Temporary

Donna Zufan Pontau, M. Cecilia Rothschild
1986 College and Research Libraries  
Temporary librarians are employed in a variety of positions in academic libraries, yet the roles of these professionals are rarely discussed. Few statistics are available on their number or use, and professional literature about them is nonexistent. Time limitations influence the work environment for librarians employed in these positions. Four potential problem areasorientation, supervision, acceptance and integration, and utilization-are discussed. Solutions are suggested, and further
more » ... is proposed. dministrators of academic libraries use temporary professionals to replace permanent staff on sabbatical or maternity leave, to work on long-term projects, and to fill positions not available on permanent status due to budgetary constraints. Specific parameters define these positions. For example, employment is generally for six months to one year or for a specific time-bound project such as a retrospective conversion of the card catalog. Maximum job performance is expected quickly. Moreover, the duties and responsibilities of these positions necessitate the librarian's immediate integration into the library structure, staff, and culture. Lastly, temporary librarians are both restricted from and ineligible for certain assignments that may be available to tenture-track or career librarians. The hiring of temporary professionals is a management option that offers distinct advantages to the employer. The salaries for these professionals are often lower than those of new permanent librarians. Temporary appointments are not tenuretrack or career positions, and therefore these professionals do not receive some of the benefits that accrue to other librarians. Temporary staff also provide flexibility in times of budget or enrollment declines. Finally, as new personnel they contribute fresh ideas. Temporary librarians, despite their use, constitute an unrecognized segment of the professional library work force. Consequently, issues pertaining to this group have not been investigated. One primary issue is the fact that the time constraints affecting temporary appointments produce distinct needs for these librarians. Problems arise if time's influence is not recognized and counteracted by management. The following discussion notes the absence of information on temporary professionals and examines potential problems resulting from unmet needs in the areas of orientation, supervision, acceptance and integration, and utilization . Measures to prevent these problems are presented. The use of temporary librarians is a topic that has not been addressed in the professional literature. No relevant citations were retrieved through online searches of LISA, ERIC, Dissertation Abstracts Online, and Psycinfo or through a manual search of Library Literature from 1921 to the present. During these searches, however, two articles were discovered on temporary university faculty. In the first article, Eugene Jabker and Ronald Halinski reported the results of their 1978 study of temporary faculty at Illinois State University. The second article was a more recent discussion of the status and condition of temporary faculty.
doi:10.5860/crl_47_02_150 fatcat:ig42bvenubbn7jkfwted2iyo24