career librarians. Because research libraries are large, complex organizations
with work that is highly specialized, search committees naturally favor
candidates with the most technical expertise and years of experience. It is not
unusual for search committees to prefer candidates with the most advanced
education and greatest record of scholarship to ensure their success through
promotion and tenure systems. Although unintentional, these environmental
and cultural factors substantially limit employment opportunities for early-
career librarians. It is rare to find position announcements in research libraries
requiring less than three to five years of professional experience.
Residency programs intentionally remove these institutional employment
barriers for early-career librarians. Residency positions are designed for new
graduates with no post-master’s professional experience. Many are classified
as non–tenure track positions, providing time for residents to acclimate to the
higher education environment and build a record of scholarship and
professional service “off-the-clock.”
Organizational Effectiveness
Research libraries with long-standing residency programs value the unique
contributions that early-career librarians bring to the organization. Those just
out of graduate school bring an immediate student perspective. Their recent
student experience and ability to connect with the library’s primary constituency
is invaluable. In addition, they bring enthusiasm and currency with emerging
technologies, as well as knowledge of how students and faculty are using or
could be using these technologies in their research. Their enthusiasm, their new
ideas, and their willingness to experiment contribute to the goals and mission of
research libraries.
Career-span diversity also enhances organizational effectiveness through
professional and career development. When individuals at different points in
their careers work, collaborate, and learn from one another the organization is
more dynamic. Senior staff have opportunities to mentor and be recognized for
their expertise and experience. Newer staff bring questions, ideas, and energy
for change. The professional development interests of both senior and early-
career librarians are met when they collaborate in pairs and on teams.
Another organizational benefit is the extension of professional development
opportunities originally designed for resident librarians to other staff. Long-
standing residency programs often extend mentoring programs, seminars, and
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Understanding the Organizational Value of Post–Master’s Degree Residency Programs
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C O N T I N U E D
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OCTOBER 2010 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
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