Why Sabbatical Leave rights matter

“Truly original work, whether it be transforming the way we teach or publish our research, requires that librarians have the time and freedom to immerse ourselves–to ponder, reflect, understand and eventually produce. [….] Sabbaticals will enable librarians to more fully contribute to the research and teaching missions of the university.”
 
“Over the course of nearly fifteen years at the University of California, I have done most of my serious writing and research during my vacations.  Summers, which have traditionally been promised to fiscal-year appointees such as librarians as an opportunity to pursue research, creative activities, and professional development opportunities, are busier than ever, given the increased amount of instruction UC campuses provide during the summer, and the increasing workload assigned to librarians.”
 
“A contractually guaranteed eligibility for sabbatical leave would allow me to complete several projects too big to tackle over brief vacations or intersessions.  It would also allow me to re-engage with evolutionary and revolutionary changes in academic librarianship and the role of the librarian in both the academy and the research ecosystem that my nearly twenty-year-old MLIS could not and did not anticipate.”
 
These statements by several UC Librarians are supported by the Association of College and Research Librarians (ACRL), the main professional organization for librarians employed in higher education.  ACRL’s “Standards for Faculty Status for Academic Librarians” states: “Sabbatical and other research leaves should be available to librarians consistent with campus standards. Librarians should have access to funding for research projects and professional development consistent with campus standards.”
 
However, despite its standing as one of the greatest universities in the world, the University of California is in the minority of American colleges and university that do not offer opportunities for sabbatical leave to their professional librarians.
 
Our Union hopes to change this.  At our most recent bargaining session, held on the UC Davis campus on June 19th, rank-and-file members passed a new article “Sabbatical Leaves” across the table.  This article, should it be incorporated into our contract, would guarantee UC librarians the right of eligibility for sabbatical leave after six years of service.
 
This would be a long overdue gain for librarians.  Throughout California’s public higher education system (consisting of 114 community colleges, 23 California State University campuses, and the ten University of California campuses), UC Librarians are the _only_ professional librarians without the right to sabbatical leave.
 
This is unfortunate, because college and university administrators agree that sabbatical leaves are essential to attracting, motivating, and retaining committed and engaged scholars.  A recent study of academic library administrators indicated that, “In terms of impacts of sabbaticals, most respondents who had experienced a [librarian] taking sabbatical felt that the sabbatical benefited the [librarian] and the institution; positive results include improved morale, publications that raised the profile of the library, and learning that was applied in the workplace.” *
 
Sabbatical leaves for UC Librarians, who fully participate in the teaching, research, public service, and patient care mission of the University, would ensure their contributions to the University of California are recognized as commensurate with the Regents’ directive that sabbatical leaves be granted “to enable recipients to be engaged in intensive programs of research and/or study, thus to become more effective teachers and scholars and to enhance their services to the University.” **
 
UC Librarians need your support as we fight for the right to sabbatical leave, one of many changes to our contract designed to attract and retain world class librarians.
 
* Flaspohler, Molly R. “Librarian Sabbatical Leaves: Do We Need to Get Out More?.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 35.2 (2009): 152-161.
 

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