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Schools Bad! Thanks, McSweeney's, for publishing my piece about academia

I’m thrilled to say that McSweeney's Internet Tendency has published another piece of mine, A Welcome Letter to the New Adjunct Faculty Members Who Will be Laid Off in December.

As many of you know, I’m a faculty librarian. I currently have a full time job, though it is temporary – I won’t necessarily have it next semester – and it’s not unusual for me to work as an adjunct for 3 schools at the same time. My peers and I bounce from place to place filling in gaps so that our admins don’t have to hire full time employees who would get benefits and potentially tenure.

This doesn’t bother me as much as you might expect. As a librarian, it’s far more stable and easy to navigate than for classroom adjuncts who have to worry about things like class size. The flexibility is awesome. But for adjuncts, and for librarians of all kinds, it can be really difficult to move up to full time positions. Back when I wrote for Public Libraries Online I actually did a piece about the plight of librarians crossing their fingers and waiting for full time work. It’s common to work part time for 10 years in our industry before securing a coveted full time job.

With that in mind, this piece isn’t so much close to my heart as close to my reality and very close to the realities of many friends and peers. I love schools. I love academia, both as a student and as a faculty member. And I absolutely love being an academic librarian. But that doesn’t mean they’re aren’t flaws in the system. Colleges of all sizes are capricious in their hiring. Adjuncts are considered disposable. Doing good work doesn’t equate to earning full time or tenure-track positions. Many universities (look, honestly, most universities) are riddled with corruption of one kind or another. This is, of course, old news, and I knew it when I signed up, and none of it stops me from loving my job, but it does, of course, inform this piece, and I hope you enjoy my funny little take on it!


Chris S. Burns

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