Skip to content
Penn State University Libraries

Policies and Guidelines

HUMAN RESOURCES

Guideline UL-HRG07 PROMOTION AND TENURE CRITERIA GUIDELINES

Contents:

  • Preamble
  • Criteria
  • . . . . The Scholarship of Librarianship
  • . . . . The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
  • . . . . The Scholarship of Research and Creative Accomplishments
  • . . . . Service and the Scholarship of Service to the University, Society, and the Profession
  • Definition of Ranks (HR-21)
  • . . . . Assistant Librarian
  • . . . . Associate Librarian
  • . . . . Librarian

PREAMBLE:

The University’s fundamental role is the “discovery, synthesis, transmission, and application of knowledge” [HR23, Promotion and Tenure Procedures and Regulations].  That policy affirms the primacy of academic excellence in tenure and promotion decisions at Penn State, outlines the University’s general criteria for those decisions, and encourages each academic unit to develop its own more explicit expectations and standards as the operational basis for its tenure and promotion recommendations.  Each academic unit applies the University’s general criteria “in light of a detailed knowledge of the specific goals” of that unit and amplifies the general criteria with specific criteria tailored to its mission.  This document defines the criterion unique to the faculty in the University Libraries, the Scholarship of Librarianship, and amplifies the other three criteria in light of the role of the University Libraries within the University.

The University Libraries are integral to the discovery, synthesis, transmission, and application of knowledge.  The mission of the Libraries states that “The University Libraries are a leader in advancing intellectual discovery, information literacy, and lifelong learning.  The Libraries connect students and scholars to the world of information and ideas.  As an active participant in the worldwide community of scholars, the Libraries foster the teaching, research, service, and outreach goals of Penn State.  They select, create, organize, and facilitate access to resources that are relevant to the University’s programs and pursuits.”  By furthering this mission, members of the Libraries’ faculty facilitate the integration and application of existing knowledge to create new knowledge, and promote learning, teaching, and research.  The complexity of this mission requires a Libraries’ faculty diverse in expertise and responsibilities.  The Libraries’ Promotion and Tenure Criteria are designed to promote evaluation of each faculty member’s unique contributions to the Libraries, the University, and the community of scholars.

Promotion decisions are based on recognized performance and achievement in each of the criteria.  Tenure decisions are based on the potential for further achievement in the criteria as indicated by performance during the provisional appointment.  The presumption is that a positive tenure decision for an Assistant Librarian is sufficient to warrant promotion to Associate Librarian.  (See the University’s “Administrative Guidelines for HR-23: Promotion and Tenure Procedures and Regulations,” II. Criteria Statements)

CRITERIA:

The Scholarship of Librarianship:

The scholarship of librarianship is the most important criterion for faculty in the University Libraries, and is given the most weight in tenure and promotion decisions.  University libraries are complex information environments, and the responsibilities of members of the Libraries’ faculty vary markedly in their focus.  The scholarship of librarianship comprises many facets of knowledge and practice, and each faculty assignment focuses on certain aspects of that scholarship.  The varied nature of faculty responsibilities and contributions constitutes a strength of the University Libraries, and this variety among our faculty is valued.  The narrative statement and a brief description of the faculty member’s core responsibilities help reviewers understand the unique role of that faculty member within the University Libraries.

The scholarship of librarianship includes:

  • the ability to select, acquire, analyze, transmit, and preserve documents and collections of recorded knowledge for students, faculty, and staff of the University, as well as for scholars outside the University;
  • the ability to organize information optimally for subsequent retrieval;
  • the ability to teach students and staff of the University, professionals in Pennsylvania and beyond, and members of the general public to identify their information needs, develop and implement search strategies, recognize and access appropriate information sources to meet those needs, and critically use those sources;
  • the ability to develop and apply technologies that further the University Libraries’ mission, including the use of distance technologies to make appropriate resources available to broader communities of scholars, students, professionals, and the general public; and
  • the ability to apply professional knowledge and judgment in the administration of library collections, services, and departments to further the teaching, research, and service missions of the University.

The University Libraries value excellence in librarianship.  Members of the Libraries’ faculty should demonstrate sustained growth in librarianship and high-quality contributions in the area(s) of their core responsibilities in librarianship.  Documented initiative, innovation, creativity, and leadership in the design of services and solutions are particularly valued, as is evidence of the positive impact of the scholarship of librarianship.

Assessment of the quality of contributions to the scholarship of librarianship is based on administrative evaluation (via the letter of summary evaluation), peer evaluation (for sixth-year and promotion reviews), and documentation of accomplishments provided by the candidate, including measures of the impact of those accomplishments.  The administrative evaluation should refer to as many measures as are available, and candidates are encouraged to summarize in the dossier, and/or provide in the supplementary file or a teaching portfolio, evidence or measures of the impact of the scholarship of librarianship.

Much of the teaching by members of the Libraries’ faculty is not credit-bearing and is documented under the Scholarship of Librarianship (third bullet, above).  The University Libraries value teaching by members of Libraries’ faculty, who teach to many different audiences (undergraduate students, graduate students, university staff, general public, professionals in the field) via many media (e.g., guest lectures in resident education courses, library instruction classrooms and labs, reference desks both physical and virtual, workshops, and seminars).  Teaching by members of the Libraries’ faculty is expected to be of high quality and to advance the learning experiences and learning outcomes of students and other audiences, and to contribute to the development of information literacy and an aptitude for life-long learning on the part of students and other audiences.  Documentation of efforts to assess and improve one’s teaching is especially valued, as is evidence of reflective and creative use of a variety of teaching methods that advance learning.

Candidates for tenure and promotion to Associate Librarian should exhibit a pattern of growth and development leading to excellence by the sixth year.  Candidates for promotion to Librarian should demonstrate a sustained record of excellence, as well as outstanding creativity and leadership.

Evaluative methods: Administrative evaluation (via the letter of summary evaluation); peer evaluations (for sixth-year and promotion reviews); lists of contributions and measures of impact as indicated above.

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning:  (when assigned)

As the University values teaching on the part of collegiate faculty as a means to student learning, the University Libraries value teaching by members of the Libraries’ faculty.  Faculty members in the University Libraries teach to many different audiences (undergraduate students, graduate students, university staff, general public, professionals in the field) via many media (e.g., guest lectures in resident education courses, library instruction classrooms and labs, reference desks both physical and virtual, workshops, and seminars).  The expertise of members of the Libraries’ faculty (for example, in information literacy, discipline-specific research methods, or information science) enables them to contribute through their teaching to curricular programs and student learning.

Teaching of credit-bearing resident education or online education courses is documented under the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, as are formal advising responsibilities, direction of undergraduate honors theses and graduate theses, and service on graduate committees.  Teaching by members of the Libraries’ faculty is expected to be of high quality and to advance the learning experiences and learning outcomes of students and other audiences, and to contribute to the development of information literacy and an aptitude for life-long learning on the part of students and other audiences.  Documentation of efforts to assess and improve one’s teaching is especially valued, as is evidence of reflective and creative use of a variety of teaching methods that advance learning.

The development and teaching of credit-bearing courses, whether offered through the Library Studies Program, another college, or the World Campus, is one of several ways in which members of the Libraries’ faculty promote student learning.  It is especially important where there is a demonstrated need for sustained expertise by members of the Libraries’ faculty to support the curriculum, as agreed among a Libraries’ unit, the Libraries’ administration, and an academic unit. All members of the Libraries’ faculty document their contributions to the Scholarship of Librarianship, the Scholarship of Research and Creative Accomplishments, and Service and the Scholarship of Service.  When a member of the Libraries’ faculty documents contributions to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, the balance of the dossier changes: the contributions to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning are valued and expectations for the other criteria are adjusted to reflect the overall balance.

Evaluative methods for teaching or advising: Peer review; student evaluations; statements from administrators. A variety of evaluative methods strengthens the assessment and is encouraged.

The Scholarship of Research and Creative Accomplishments:

A faculty member of the University Libraries is expected to establish and sustain a program of high quality research and creative accomplishments appropriate to his or her core responsibilities and rank which are consistent with the Libraries’ mission and goals.

The scholarship of research and creative accomplishments is documented through a portfolio of quality accomplishments, reflecting an active and focused research program.  The University Libraries highly value publications and presentations that have undergone an independent evaluation and selection process, such as peer review, rigorous editorial selection, or competitive juried selection.  A rigorous editorial selection process may apply to books, parts of books, and articles in professionally significant nonrefereed journals.  Also highly valued are publications and presentations that have been invited or otherwise solicited, as well as those published by, or presented at conferences sponsored by, professional or scholarly organizations.  Evidence of the impact of the candidate’s research and creative accomplishments, and of the candidate’s reputation in the discipline, are also valued.

The University Libraries value both collaboration and individual initiative.  Although co-authored or solo-authored publications and presentations are both valued, the candidate’s dossier should show some evidence of independent research.

Sustained progress in the Scholarship of Research and Creative Accomplishments should be demonstrated by Libraries’ faculty members throughout their six years in the tenure process.  At the second-year review, evidence of the formulation of a research agenda, such as manuscripts in progress, are expected.  By the fourth year, candidates should demonstrate that they have begun to share their research with the profession through publications, presentations at conferences, or other evidence of research.  Continued progress in research should be demonstrated at the sixth year with additional publications, presentations, or other evidence of research.

For tenure and promotion to the rank of Associate Librarian, the candidate must present evidence of an established reputation in the scholarship of research and creative accomplishments as indicated by the criteria examples listed above and by external letters of assessment.  For promotion to the rank of Librarian, the successful candidate must demonstrate a level of achievement in the scholarship of research and creative accomplishments beyond that presented at the time of promotion to Associate Librarian and give evidence of a continuing capacity for significant research and creative accomplishment.

Evaluative methods: Contributions as indicated above; external letters of assessment (for sixth-year and promotion reviews).

Service and the Scholarship of Service to the University, Society, and the Profession:

The University Libraries highly value active participation and leadership in service to the campus, University Libraries, University, and profession.  Members of the Libraries’ faculty are expected to apply their professional expertise in developing new programs and services, providing solutions to problems, and guiding the strategic direction of the Libraries within the faculty member’s core responsibilities.  Libraries’ faculty members contribute to the governance of the University or its various units, and to the diversity and intellectual life of the University and the community.  Professional participation at an appropriate level is expected. Such participation may be in state, regional, national, or international associations or organizations.

Contributions in this category may include but are not limited to: participation in committees at all levels; participation in task forces and other problem-solving activities; mentorship of new faculty; contributions to the University’s programs to enhance equal opportunity and cultural diversity; assistance to student organizations; and participation in academic governance.  Outreach service may include leadership or service in professional associations or learned societies; participation in community affairs as a representative of the University; and assistance in the faculty member’s field of expertise to groups, organizations, corporations, government, and communities.  Candidates for tenure and promotion to Associate Librarian should have documented a sustained record of active service by the sixth year. Candidates for promotion to Librarian should show evidence of leadership in the profession.

Evaluative methods: Contributions as indicated above; awards and honors; letters or other documents that attest to the effectiveness of the candidate’s contributions.

DEFINITION OF RANKS: (HR-21)

Assistant Librarian:

The assistant librarian should possess a graduate degree in library or information studies or other appropriate degree; must have demonstrated potential ability as a librarian; and must have shown promise of growth in research and service.

Associate Librarian:

The associate librarian should possess the same qualifications as the assistant librarian, demonstrate excellence in librarianship, show evidence of an established reputation in research, and have a strong record of service to the University and the profession.

Librarian:

In addition to the qualifications for Associate Librarian, the Librarian should demonstrate sustained excellence in librarianship, give evidence of creativity in his/her field of specialization (including a continuing capacity for significant contributions in research and creative accomplishments), and show evidence of leadership in the profession.  The rank of Librarian should be reserved for persons of proven stature in librarianship, research, and service.


Effective Date: July 1, 2005
Date Approved: January 20, 2005 (Provost)
Date Approved: January 12, 2005 (Dean)
Date Approved: December 8, 2004 (Libraries Faculty Organization)

Revision History (and effective dates):

  • December 12, 2004 – Completely revised criteria guidelines from the Promotion and Tenure Task Force
  • September 17, 2002 – Editorial revisions based on UniSCOPE Model (LFO Faculty Affairs)
  • August 30, 2001 – Editorial revisions to "Definition of Ranks" approved by the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
  • February 9, 1997 – Completely revised criteria guidelines
  • July 11, 1979; May 14, 1982; June 17, 1991; July 29, 1993; August 2, 1994 – Revised
  • November 1976 – New criteria

Last Review Date:  November 2009