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The Workers
SEIU Local 925
WFSE Local 1488
UAW Local 4121
SEIU Local 1199
GCC/IBT Local 767M


The Association of Librarians of the University of Washington:

A brief description of the formation and early history, with particular attention to the issue of faculty status.


By Ross Nadal
(June 2002)


          The first section of this paper provides a description of early actions in regard to the issue of faculty status for librarians, leading up to the formation of ALUW in 1969.  The second section examines the early years of the newly formed association. The report is based on the papers of ALUW and other research collections in the University Archives.


Early Collective Actions

          The first recorded (in University Archives) collective action taken at the University of Washington in regard to the status of librarians was actually taken in 1947 by the University chapter of AAUP (American Association of University Professors) who, in their study of librarianship at the University as a whole, focused on the key issues of salary and faculty status as the most important areas in which librarians needs had been neglected.  But while the consideration of these issues was a step towards their eventual address, in its final conclusion, the report ultimately decided not to recommend giving faculty status to librarians because it felt the status issue was merely a manifestation of dissatisfaction with salary and could not “be solved by a nominal change in status.”  Though it should be noted that the investigation did not take into account the educational role served by librarians in judging their claim to faculty status, instead focusing on their role in facilitating research. 

          The issues (of salary and faculty status) then lay dormant for approximately ten years until 1957 when a group of librarians and library administrators decided to form a Faculty Status Committee so as to more directly and formally pursue their agenda.  Chaired by Helen Johns, on January 24th of that year the committee submitted a petition to University President Schmitz (with the approval of Mr. Bauer, then Director of Libraries).  The petition outlined four specific demands:

1.      Change of status from non-academic to academic

2.      Change from present designation to one equated with specific faculty rank

3.      Librarians to be called by faculty titles, though only if they have teaching assignments

4.      Librarians to be extended full faculty privileges

The Committee considered the librarian’s educational contributions to satisfy the chief requirement for membership in the Association of Faculty of being “engaged in teaching and research” as sufficient support for the status change.  Though no direct action came as a result of the petition, it did draw enough of President Schmitz’s attention for him, in early 1958, to ask the Faculty Status Committee to continue work on the issue.

          The Committee then submitted a memorandum to Harry C. Bauer (then Director of Libraries), which he, through Dr. Theime, brought to the attention of the Senate Personnel Committee.  The memorandum contained largely the same demands as the above petition, but left out a request for full faculty privileges, and noted 1) the role of comparatively lower salaries for librarians at the University of Washington in lowering morale and in the increasing difficulty in recruitment, as well as 2) the fact that major neighboring institutions (University of Oregon, Oregon State, and Washington State) had already granted faculty status to their librarians.

          The Personnel Committee of the Faculty Senate (chaired by Dr. Charles R. Strother) addressed the above issues at their 23rd and 30th of April 1959 meetings.  In response the Personnel Committee formulated a set of questions regarding the librarian’s reasons for pursuing recognition as academic workers and implying they only desired the status change because of the accompanying change in salary.  Consequently, on May 5 the Committee on Faculty Status submitted the following definition of ‘Academic Status’ as applicable to librarians (intended as a more realistic substitute for faculty status):

·         Designation by the University as ‘Academic Personnel’

·         Salaries to be based on those paid to librarians at comparable institutions1

·         Administration of personnel policies to be by the Director of Libraries through the President of the University.

·         Eligibility of librarians for administrative leave

·         Extension of the Merit System

·         Full tenure after 5 years of service

·         Recognition of the Library’s desire and willingness to serve on University committees

To which the Senate Library Committee reacted as follows:  It concurred on all points except the issues of salary (as University policy dictated, the Committee had no right to address salary issues) and tenure (as the Committee considered the issue equitable with job security and therefore unnecessary to address separately).  Also, in regard to some areas, the Senate Library Committee went further than the Committee on Faculty Status by suggesting specific plans for salary increases and a ‘merit’ based reward plan.  As for the new issue of ‘Academic Status’ recognition, the Senate based its support on the grounds that librarians provided academic, rather than maintenance or administrative, support to education and research (and again the implication that Academic Status provided a more realistic alternative to pursuing full faculty status).  Though the issues of librarian’s direct educational responsibilities (i.e. teaching) were once again given little consideration.[i]

          Then in June of 1959 the Senate Personnel Committee met with the Committee on Academic Status (independently from the Senate Library Committee) and also expressed its support for the recommendation of ‘Academic Personnel’ status.  They based their support on the grounds that five of the seven institutions with which the University of Washington used for salary comparisons granted all their professional librarians full faculty status, as well as the need to improve morale and recruitment in the University’s library department as a whole (widely acknowledged to be lagging behind many comparable universities) 3 .

          After the Faculty Senate reviewed the above documents they were then passed on to administration, and the University granted Academic Personnel rank to all librarians.


Formation and Early History

          On 26 November 1968, the Ad Hoc Committee on the Status of Librarians decided to renew work on the Faculty Status issue by issuing a list of reasons for redress to Merian A Milczewski: 1) The importance of information science as a growing necessity in research and education (and as a academic subject in its own right) 2) The academic research responsibilities of Librarians and 3) The low status of University of Washington professional librarians relative to those of comparable institutions.

          At this same time, John S Rundborgs (Assistant Book Order Librarian) and a group of 14 other librarians together issued a document noting the major problems with the UW libraries.  Particularly attention was given to the issue of turnover, as most librarians were leaving after only 2 years of employment, as well as the observation that some areas of the library seemed overstaffed, oft by overqualified individuals, and thus a recommendation for a number of job cuts and reorganizations was given.  In general, this group also seemed to see the redress of the faculty status issue as taking too high a priority amid more serious issues involving the quality of the library staff and organization / communication issues, as well as salary grievances (without regard to accompanying status).  But while these views tended to de-emphasize (but not reject) the issue of faculty status as secondary to a host of other more pressing issues, this feeling seemed to be held by a rather small minority, and resulted in no documented changes in the librarian’s collective grievance actions.  And so the first steps in the creation of ALUW followed shortly, with the issue of faculty status remaining as a, but not they, most pressing issue. 

          In February of 1969 a questionnaire was distributed to library staff to judge the actual support for the creation of an association.  The results are as follows:

1.      Are you interested in an organization of the professional library staff? Yes 69, No 2.

2.      If so, do you want it to be something entirely new? Yes 46, No 3. 

3.      As an alternative, would you prefer a professional organization within the framework of the Constitution of the Staff Association? Yes 8, No 43.

4.      If such a professional organization were formed, who would be members?  Almost complete agreement on “all professionals (no exclusions)”  Though most did wish to exclude library administrators.

5.      What questions would you like the organization to consider?  ‘Evaluation of professional content in jobs and use of libraries’ received the most support.  Second were issues dealing with communication within the libraries in general.  And third were issues involving the ‘status and respect of librarians.’


Following the support demonstrated through the survey, on 4 March 1969, a meeting of professional staff was held and a vote was taken, and passed, ‘in favor of formation.’  During this same time the groundwork was laid for the pending Association’s constitution.  Of many different sources, a chief role was played by Gerald J. Oppenheimer (then Assistant Director for Health Sciences who would go on to play a continuing and very influential role in the ALUW) who advised that portions of the Faculty Handbook be incorporated so as to cater to future Faculty Status negotiations.  Also incorporated were portions of the constitution from UCLA’s recently formed association of librarians.

          At their 20 November 1969 meeting, the new ALUW’s Executive Committee addressed the need and desire by librarians to gain some kind of tenured status, leading to the newly formed association’s first major action: the formation of the Interim Implementation Committee on 3 December 1969.  They formulated a report, sent to Mariam Mikzowski (Director of Libraries) for further action, stressing the need for the eventual adoption of faculty status.  This was accompanied by a ‘request for clarification’ submitted by a large number of librarians to the library administration which asked the following issues to be addressed: Why no major affirmative action had been taken on the issue of faculty status for librarians; Why there was no application of tenure or other forms of job security for librarians while such protections had been granted to faculty and classified staff; and why the current designation of Academic Status does not provide the security and benefits of Faculty Status.

          This was followed by the 9 June 1970 meeting of the ALUW Executive Committee to address, primarily, “what progress has been make on the request for faculty status for librarians.”  As a result, the Committee of the Council on Faculty Affairs made a report for eventual submission to the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate.  But there is no documented response by the Faculty Senate to these actions, and the ALUW made no documented follow up actions.

          In fact, after 1970, the faculty status issue seemed to lose prominence in general.  This was possibly affected by the emergence of new issues of prominence on campus.  In 1971 two new major issues emerged: first were major reductions in large portions of the library budget accompanied by job cuts (23 positions).  And second was the university wide issue of collective bargaining rights.  Also starting in 1971, two other issues, the professional right to determine work week hours/schedule and the general intensification of salary grievances, took to the forefront. 

          However, after the two-year lull, in October of 1972 the issue of Faculty Status reemerged with a letter from Marion A. Milczewski (Director of Libraries) to all the professional staff.  It urged the re-adoption of the effort to obtain Faculty Status and presented a wide array of practical grounds for the viewpoint.  Some of the more prominent are: On 30 October 1971 the Council of the American Association of University Professors voted to take a stance favorable to collective bargaining and to admit librarians to membership regardless of status; The Northwest Association of Secondary and Higher Schools found the lack of Faculty Status for librarians as the prime reason for the University of Washington’s many problems with their library; letters from Prof. Guthrie (1972 Chairman of Faculty Council on Faculty Affairs) and Thomas R. Nilson (1973 Chairman of Faculty Council on Faculty Affairs) supporting Faculty Status for librarians and urging the faculty to get behind the issue (these were written in response to several memos from Dr. Katz); On 1 September 1972 the Washington Higher Education Library Committee by unanimous vote agreed all professional librarians should be awarded faculty status. 

          However, at this same time an effort was being made to reopen the faculty status issue, which had earlier taken a back seat to issues such as general library budget cuts, library funding started to be increased overall, and somewhat crossed canceled the compensation and status complaints of librarians (possibly due to the fact these issues were often being argued on the basis they would aid librarians in contributing to the libraries overall success).  And so despite the above actions, as well as major steps by various national organizations and major institutions to implement faculty status for librarians, the issue at this point largely died out at the University.  Judging from archived documentation, it was primarily replaced by the issues of salary and collective bargaining.  But as you will read in the accompanying report, it has recently reemerged as a central issue for ALUW.


©2002 Ross Nader





Manuscript boxes and accession numbers (all from University Archives, basement of Allen Library, University of Washington.)

1. ALUW 3304-6-86-8 Boxes 1-3, 5

          -folders: all presidents and secretaries folders and 2 faculty status folders

2. ALUW 3304-3-90-22 Boxes 1, 2

          -all folders

3. ALUW 3304-3-90-22 Boxes 1,2

          -folders: Ad Hoc Agenda Committee           

          List of Important Documents (accession number-Box)


          University of Washington Libraries Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Status of Librarians.  Compiled in 1972, distributed on October 1972 by Gerald J. Oppenheimer.

          Faculty Status Committee.  Petition to President Schmitz.  January 24, 1958.

          Mr. Bauer.  Proposal to the Personnel Committee of the Faculty Senate.  February 1959.

          Committee on Faculty Status.  Definition of Academic Status.  May 5, 1959.


          ALUW Executive Committee and Mr. Milczowski.  Report to the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate.  June 9, 1970.

          Various Librarians.  Request for clarification.  Date Unknown (late 1969/ early 1970?).

          M. Gary Bettis.  Letter to ‘colleagues’ (addressing the formation of ALUW).  March 20, 1969.

          Meeting of Professional Staff.  March 4, 1969.

          Results of Agenda Committee Questionnaire.  February 10, 1969.

          Ad Hoc Committee on the Status of Librarians.  Report to Marion A. Milczewski.  November 26, 1968.

          ALUW Survey.  What should the main function of ALUW be?.  1980


          Marion A. Milczewski.  Letter to all members of professional staff.  October 12, 1971.


          Questionaire in regard to the support and purpose of a possible library association.  February 1969.



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These articles were written in Spring 2002. For problems or questions contact James Gregory.