Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Adjuncting as Outreach and Marketing, or Professor Jessica is in the House

I'm pretty busy right now because I've been spending a lot of time getting ready for the new semester. You see, I teach as an adjunct professor at the same college where I'm a librarian. I've taught for the education department, the English department, and this semester (not for the first time) for the Writing Across the Curriculum program. I'll be teaching a First-Year Seminar (FSEM), which means I'll be teaching college freshmen how to write, read, speak, eat, breath, dream like successful college students. Okay, maybe not those last three, but by the time the semester is over my students will feel that way.

This is not easy work, especially when you layer it on top of my full time librarian position, but it's worth it. And I don't mean the money, even though I do get paid above and beyond my librarian salary to adjunct. No, I mean the way this part-time job of mine changes the relationship I have with members of my library's community. By spending so much time with students, I get to build a deeper relationship with them. Further, I have gained a reputation as tough but fair and as a go to person. It also enhances my relationship with faculty. When I am trying to convince a professor to change something about a research assignment, or to give me more time with his or her students, I can speak from experience about how to fit these things into a course schedule. This has helped me gain respect from faculty, especially since the FSEM gig has a well-deserved reputation for being a tough one. Lots and lots of grading plus it ends up being a bit of a gatekeeper course. Finally, and most importantly, it gives me a built in marketing and outreach platform. "Did you know the library has a gender studies database?" is easy to work into conversations with students when I'm the professor of the class, and I hear more about faculty research and curriculum interests when attending an informal lunch meeting of all FSEM professors.

I've talked to other academic and high school librarians who also teach at their institutions. I also know some public librarians who teach at colleges near their libraries. From these discussions, I assume that it's just as rewarding for them as it is for me. If you can manage it, it's a part-time job that I recommend.

What do you think? Have you taught any semester long classes? What was it like for you? If you haven't, do you want to? Why/why not?


  1. I taught a semester long 2 credit hour library research course when I was at Muskingum. My most recent experience has been teaching a 3 credit hour First Year Seminar here at Defiance. I agree that it is an excellent outreach tool for both faculty and students. I jumped into the deep end of Moodle pool this past semester, so that I would be better prepared to help faculty if they had Moodle questions going forward.

    The only negative aspect for me has been failing students. I often feel like I have failed, because they have failed. I also have concerns that those students will associate the bad grade with the library guy who gave it to them and not seek help from me, or anyone in the library, in the future.

  2. I'd love to teach a college-level class. One day! (And if you ever see any opportunities, feel free to forward them!)

  3. I teach classes, too and am developing some of my own. I enjoy interacting with students in this way. It makes them more likely to approach me in the library, makes them realize I will take their research VERY seriously, and allows them to see different sides of me.

    Plus, it's a great way to connect with faculty and departments!

  4. @Andrew, you're one of the people I had in mind when I was writing this piece.

    @Cari, will do.

    @outreach, exactly!