Dean of libraries Lewis Miller said there were multiple reasons why he and associate dean for public services Sally Neal lobbied Butler’s Faculty Senate last year to make librarians members of the faculty.
“Librarians do a lot of teaching themselves, so we wanted to be involved with curriculum development because we spend $1 million a year in the library for databases to help students,” Miller said.
“It also put us in the interaction loop. But the biggest thing for us was each librarian has a specialty in a field just like other faculty members.”
Miller said that communication was low between the librarians and the rest of campus.
Miller said communication is now improved because there is no longer an issue of needing separate invitations for faculty and staff when using the PeopleSoft program.
“That made us feel sort of like second- class citizens,” he said.
Neal said the initial push was meant to help the librarians.
“It was also for our own professional development,” Neal said. “It would help us keep ourselves educated to better help us get resources for students.”
Music professor Doug Spaniol, who is vice chair of Faculty Senate, said the decision was a long process.
“It was a policy discussion that happened over years,” Spaniol said. “The majority felt that they should be given faculty status, because the librarians are well-trained professionals, and some even teach courses themselves.”
According to Neal, the benefits have been numerous since librarians have become full-fledged faculty.
“One of the most exciting things that has happened is that [faculty members] became more aware of the services we can provide for their instruction,” Neal said. “Now there is heightened campus awareness of the library and the resources we can provide.”
Neal said one of the new things the library was able to do was to start giving freshman students first year seminar, a pretest at the beginning of the year to test their research skills and their ability to find information online.
In April, librarians expect to distribute a post test to see how the results change throughout the semester.
“This is our pilot year and we want to see if we are making an impact on students’ research skills,” Neal said.
Eighteen out of 57 FYS sections were given the test.
“It will be interesting to see the results because instructors are now beginning to understand that we can be there to help design assignments with the resources we have which in turn gives us more visibility.”
Junior English education major Melissa Rangel said she remembers when a librarian came into her FYS class and helped her and her classmates improve their research skills.
“I remember freshman year when one of the librarians came and taught us how to use the online databases which has made doing research papers a whole lot easier,” Rangel said.
“I still use them when doing my research papers now because they make finding info more simple and understandable.”
Librarian and associate professor Brad Matthies said that not only the librarians, but the university as a whole has benefited from the change.
“Ultimately the Butler University community is held to a higher standard,” Matthies said. “We can better develop our skills and bring them back to the students. Some of us [librarians] have been doing these things for years, but it is great that we can finally be recognized for it.”