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Library School Adjunct Instructor Survey

Have you taught as an adjunct? Please do take this thoughtfully-composed survey.

I only found one question ambiguous: “6. Due to the low numbers of PhD faculty, have you considered full time teaching as an alternative to your career as a practitioner?”

If that means have I considered working full-time as a contractor without benefits or job security in a position that is always second tier to the “real” faculty, then no. Teaching, done right, is a lot of work. Teaching occasionally as an adjunct, as time and life permit, is a joy (albeit an all-consuming joy). Doing that as a “job” doesn’t make financial sense.

If the question is asking if I’ve thought of a PhD, sure, and I assume many adjuncts have as well. In my experience in two programs — caveat, that’s close to five years out now, and both programs have changed a lot since then — adjunct instructors weren’t treated as a potential PhD/faculty pool. We weren’t grossly mistreated; we were just, by and large, ignored, even though the quality of our instruction had just as much impact on the students as instruction from the “real” faculty.

But even adjuncts who aren’t potential PhD candidates are important to LIS programs. LibraryLand needs both kinds of adjuncts: the self-actualized practitioners who teach for the satisfaction of it and constantly infuse education with real-world problems, and the adjuncts who could be filling that PhD shortage.

(There’s a PhD shortage? Where have I been?)

And, if programs haven’t begun to do so already, they need to attend to their use of adjuncts a little better. I was a self-actualized practitioner when I was teaching, but I thought it odd how much the programs ignored adjuncts. (Yes, I am the one who on the survey mentioned the David Sedaris essay where as an adjunct he teaches his students to smoke.) I felt this particularly acutely when I had to deal with inevitable student problems such as absenteeism and plagiarism, but even in the “good times,” better integration into the program as a whole would have benefited both the program and me.

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