Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Service to the Profession...

Oh sigh. I'm currently undergoing something that I dread every two years - reappointment as part of the tenure process. This year is my "penultamate" appointment, meaning the last prior to submission of one's bid for tenure. It is a three year reappointment, yet somehow we need to begin preparing the tenure dossier next year. This is one of those things in academic librarianship that is routine, odd, yet nobody questions.

For each of these reappointments, one needs to carefully craft a Curriculum Vitae touting all their magnificant and scholarly accomplishments as well as a "Statement of Service" and a "Statement of Research Interests." Allow me to assure you that writing these babies is absolutely, positively *excruciating*. I'd rather have someone come pull all my fingernails out. Oh wait. That's right, I'd rather have the fingernails thing than have to sit through the bar review section on New York Practice. I thought that sounded familiar. So, I guess I'd rather have something else very painful happen to me than write service and research statements.

I have a hard time talking about myself generally, but add in the request by the committee overseeing promotion and tenure appointments that the service statement be an extrapolation of one's "philosophy of librarianship" and I just want to kill myself right now.

I like my job, even love my job. I enjoy what I do, and I wanted to be a librarian because I like to be near books and want to help people. Unfortunately, that does not qualify as one's statement of service. One needs to write a multi-paged statement touting all kinds of incomprehensible jargon about what it means to be a librarian and how the profession serves others.

This is tough for me. I like clear, concise writing. Not wordy, flowery crap that you read multiple times and cannot for the life of you figure out what it actually *means*. You know what I'm talking about. That "scholarly" writing that you would gladly pay someone $50 to translate for you. My friend Chris and I have an article, published in the library literature mind you, that we make fun of regularly that is guilty of this sort of writing. The author used the word "amelioration" in the title, as well as a half dozen times in the abstract alone. If you can use the word "amelioration" in a regular sentence, AND keep a straight face, I will happily buy you lunch.

I managed to pound out my Statement of Service by popping Motrin and transforming myself such that flowery prose poured forth from my consciousness like so much Wild Turkey (reserve bottle in my desk for just such occasions; just one of those baby airplane bottles, don't panic :). It was quite astounding, actually. I blathered on about integrating library instruction into the curriculum and fostering a teaching and learning collaboration amongst faculty, students and librarians. I discussed my philosophy of teaching, and how it can ease student library anxiety and instill a confidence with library resources that will last throughout their academic careers. I even mentioned my contributions to scholarly communication in furtherance of the desired professional goal of improving student learning and scholarship. I should win the Caldecott Medal for Excellence in Bullshit Writing.

I still have the Statement of Research Interests looming before me, and I want to cry just looking at my outline. I'm officially bullshitt-ed out. There's a little voice in my head, whispering "you're at 95 perceeennntt..." just like an email storage space quota or something. It's hard to manufacture this level of bullshit at such a rapid clip. I wish I could open up a Word document, and undernearth my title write about how my research interests include effective romance novels, the mythology and mystery behind Lost, and how to write an interesting spiritual memoir. I'm thinking this won't be what the committee wants to see.

1 comment:

  1. OK, we are not permitted to laugh out loud at the reference desk. This time it is your fault, Tiff..."Caldecott Medal for Excellence in Bullshit Writing."



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