Placing librarians on academic status in universities is a universal phenomenon. It started in the United States in the 1940s and spread to Britain and Canada through the 1980s, after a struggle by librarians in those countries. This has created many unanticipated developments and new problems needing solutions. A body of literature emerged and is still growing as the ramifications of the status have continued to be investigated. The literature of the past reveals a different perspective on the issues of academic status, ranging from implementation, attitudes of teaching faculty, publications and higher degrees opportunities (gains), and responsibilities and problems (pains).
This paper is limited to Delta State University library. Delta State University changed to a university from an advanced teacher's college in 1992. When this transition occurred, the majority of librarians had bachelor's degrees and were employed as assistant librarians with no professional skills. They were to be upgraded to librarian II after completing a master's degree in library studies. The reverse was the case, when in 1993 the National University Commission (NUC) issued a circular directing all librarians in Federal Universities should be accorded academic status in appointment and promotions (Ochai, 1998). The designation "assistant librarian" was changed to "graduate assistant." This therefore nullified the possibility of being promoted from Assistant Librarian to Librarian II.
Since the directive was mandatory and it took immediate effect, librarians since that year began to enjoy the basic privileges that had been reserved for teaching faculty. The privileges which constitute the gains of academics for librarians, include:
* Study leave with pay
* Separate academic salary scale (UASS)
* Extended retirement age of 65 years
* Conference attendance
* Research grants
* Sabbatical leave
As the saying goes, you cannot eat your cake and have it, and these benefits were accompanied with new expectations. The requirements needed to qualify for these benefits constitute the pains of the new status. These new requirements include:
* Bachelor's degree
* Research and publication in recognized professional journals
* Advanced degree (masters and PhD degrees compulsory).
The publication requirement is an entirely new one. Previously, librarians had only three requirements for promotion:
* 2-3 years since the last promotion
* Availability of vacancies