Understanding the
Organizational Value of
Post–Master’s Degree
Residency Programs
Julie Brewer, Librarian and Coordinator of Personnel and Staff
Development, University of Delaware Library
ost–master’s degree research library residency programs have been
in place for many years, primarily in ARL libraries.1 A number of
research libraries have hosted residency programs for several
decades.2 Accounts of residency programs are most often presented from the
residents’ perspectives or discussed in terms of how participants benefit.
Many former residents enthusiastically report on their residency experiences
at professional conferences and in various publications. It is clear these early-
career development opportunities greatly benefit participants.
However, the decline in the economy of the past few years has challenged
research libraries to assess how residency programs benefit the organization.
How do residency programs further the mission and strategic goals of the
library? Providing early-career development may not be enough of a rationale to
start or continue a residency program when library budgets are being reduced.
While a few residency programs are funded with endowments, grants, or
other private funds, the majority of residency positions are managed as regular
salary lines. These positions can be vulnerable even in good budget cycles, since
they are temporary, short-term, and vacant at predictable times. Many pressing
administrative needs compete for salary resources whenever a position opens.
Continued funding depends on how well organizational benefits are understood
and communicated. Residency programs require renewed commitment with
each recruitment opportunity. As a former resident myself, as well as a residency
program coordinator at the University of Delaware Library and as a consultant
to residency programs in other research libraries, I have grown increasingly
aware of the organizational benefits of residency programs and the importance
RLI 272
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