Apr 20 2011
Q: I have many years of library experience (primarily in public and school libraries), an MLS from Syracuse University, and a decently long list of publications, committee work (national, regional, and state), and consulting experiences. I’m interested in trying my hand at teaching, both because I’ve never done it before and because I’m contemplating a doctorate and wonder how I would do as an instructor. I’ve taught numerous workshops and classes, but not in a university setting, which I expect will be quite different.
I am actively watching many job boards, but my sense is that direct contact with someone in the program would be a more effective strategy, especially since I’m not really looking for a permanent position. A few brief conversations with current professors have left me with the feeling that sometimes courses are designed around a knowledgeable instructor, rather than the other way around, but I’m having a tough time figuring out who to approach at various programs to inquire about becoming an adjunct or professor of practice. (I should also mention that I would be most interested in online instruction since there are no LIS programs in my state.)
So my questions, as someone not familiar with the intricacies and norms of the academic world, are first: am I correct in assuming that contacting a program to express interest in teaching is appropriate, and second, if it is appropriate, who would I contact and what initial information would be most helpful to them (a full CV? a shorter resume? or something less formal?) Thank you so much for any insight you might have for me!
SM: It is appropriate to contact (someone in) a program to express your interest in teaching. Check the web sites of online-only programs to see if they are hiring, to find out what areas of librarianship they specialize in and what types of classes they offer, and to find a contact person (dean of the school or coordinator of the program). Before you send your full CV, have your initial contact be a query email in which you state your interest in online teaching (in that particular program), and ask him/her if they are looking for adjuncts. In that initial email: offer to send your CV and other materials, briefly state your experience and your specific teaching interests, and let him/her know what classes you would be interested in teaching (or developing). If you have an online portfolio or CV, link to that in your email. You could also contact an adjunct instructor in that program to ask for advice on how to get started teaching an online class.
According to ALA, the following 20 library schools offer 100% online programs:
- Clarion University of Pennsylvania
- Drexel University
- Florida State University
- Louisiana State University
- North Carolina Central University
- Rutgers, State University of New Jersey
- San Jose State University
- Southern Connecticut State University
- Texas Woman’s University
- University at Buffalo, State University of New York
- University of Alabama
- University of Kentucky
- University of Maryland
- University of Puerto Rico
- University of South Carolina
- University of Southern Mississippi
- University of Tennessee
- University of Washington
- University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
- Wayne State University
Other places to look for academic teaching positions:
You can also look for adjunct teaching positions at local academic institutions that would allow you to gain experience by teaching a semester long class (either online, in person or hybrid). This can be an excellent way to develop a syllabus and assignments, and learn a course management system (e.g., Blackboard, Angel, Moodle, etc.). Some undergraduate institutions require their students to take research classes and these are often taught by librarians.
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