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Penn State University Libraries

Policies and Guidelines



An important element of the Promotion and Tenure dossier is the summary performance evaluation of the candidate’s Librarianship.  This evaluation, which is authored by the librarian’s primary supervisor, is one of the best ways that we have of assessing Librarianship, the most important criterion for tenure.  Promotion and Tenure review committees consider summary performance evaluation letters carefully, and will often quote passages from the summary evaluation in their own review letters.

The summary evaluation, which should be addressed to the appropriate Libraries’ Associate Dean or Director, should cover all the aspects of the librarian’s core responsibilities.  It is not a letter of reference, but a cumulative assessment of the librarian’s performance for all of the years preceding the tenure review.  It should not include a recommendation as to whether the candidate should be tenured or promoted.

Effective summary performance evaluations:

  • Assess the quality and impact of the librarian’s contributions.
  • Document how the librarian has developed during the review period.
  • Put the librarians’ contributions into context.
  • Demonstrate how the librarian integrates all the aspects of his/her primary assignment, e.g., for a public services librarian, this would be the integration of reference, instruction, and collection development.
  • Highlight especially important items in the dossier; not merely summarize the activities already documented in the dossier.
  • Speak to the quality and impact of the routine work of librarianship, such as reference desk service or cataloging.
  • Incorporate information on the quality of a librarian’s teaching that is documented under the Scholarship of Librarianship, including information from formal peer and student assessments.
  • Emphasize the professional characteristics of the librarian and do not include irrelevant details or references to personal situations.
  • Stress the value of the librarian’s contributions to the Libraries and the University.
  • Focus on the quality of Librarianship, not on Research, Service, and teaching documented under the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.  However, the evaluation can highlight how the librarian’s contributions in librarianship have impacted his/her research, service, and credit-bearing teaching.  For example, a librarian may develop an innovative and popular program for the Libraries.  The supervisor could mention that a paper about this program was accepted for delivery at a prestigious conference—an indication of the quality of the librarian’s contribution.
  • Reflect the balance of the librarian’s various activities.  In some cases, the evaluator might want to indicate the proportion of time the librarian spends on certain activities.
  • Serve as a means of guidance for the librarian by indicating areas where the librarian needs to focus or improve.

The author of the summary performance evaluation is strongly encouraged to seek input from others who are knowledgeable about the quality of the faculty member’s librarianship.  They can include other administrators or leaders of major initiatives or committees in which the librarian played a role.  Input from the campus administrators is required for the summary performance evaluations of librarians from the Commonwealth Campuses who are undergoing second- and fourth-year tenure reviews. In all cases, the primary evaluator should indicate who provided input.  The primary evaluator should be the sole signatory; if the librarian has a split appointment, both supervisors should sign the letter.

A librarian is able to read his/her summary evaluation prior to the beginning of the promotion and tenure review cycle.  During the year when a librarian is undergoing a tenure review, s/he does not receive an additional performance review.

Effective Date: July 2005
Date Approved: July 2005 (Dean)

Revision History (and effective dates):

  • July 2013 –  Revised to reflect administrative re-organization of 2011
  • March 2008 – Revised to reflect required input from campus administrators and assistant deans at second- and fourth-year tenure reviews
  • June 2005 – Completely revised guideline recommended by the P&T Task Force
  • April 2002 – New guideline

Last Review Date:  February 2013