Martin Brennan

Martin J. Brennan, MLS
Copyright Librarian



Areas of Academic Specialty
Copyright, Scholarly Communications
How many years have you been in the profession?
Why did you become a librarian?
I had hoped to pursue a PhD in English Literature and become a college professor, but had determined that path was too expensive, and that lucrative teaching jobs were too hard to secure & retain. Shortly after finishing my BA, I was working as a court clerk in juvenile court, in a very unrewarding paper-pushing job. I was aimless and hungry for direction. One of my colleagues had just accepted a scholarship from the Chicago Public Library to get his MLS. I asked him, incredulously, “Why would you want to be a librarian?” His response: “Think about it, Marty. You are surrounded by books all day; I can’t imagine a more stress-free environment. Plus, there is nothing in a library that can’t wait until tomorrow.” Plus I knew I could double my current meager salary. I found these reasons very compelling, and I was enrolled in an MLS program within a year.
Of course, experience has proven that none of those reasons are true. But it was an excellent decision for me, nonetheless. I wanted to be an educator, to help people that wanted to learn. As a reference and outreach librarian, I consider myself a free-range educator, helping eager learners at the point of need. I get to help people in all disciplines and subjects, and am glad I didn’t limit myself with a PhD and teaching role in a specific subject. To this day, those ground level interactions with students and instructors that benefit from my expertise is incredibly fulfilling.
Union role
I am on the Board of local 1990 at UCLA, as Librarian Rep.
Why is it important to be active in our union?
Union work is where the rubber hits the road when people talk about “shared governance.” When we fight for better pay, professional development support, benefits and working conditions, we make it possible for our libraries to hire and retain the best professionals to work at our side.
UC administrators don’t like to acknowledge how much the union’s successful negotiations have improved salary and working conditions for librarians and lecturers. Effective bargaining leads directly to better librarians working at our side.  Ultimately, we are not just seeking to improve our own working conditions and salary; we are laying the groundwork for attracting a professional community of practice that, in the long run, forms a stronger, more vibrant and effective institution.
Finally, our union is most effective when the full membership contributes to our efforts in organizing and bargaining. I want to do my part.
How are you contributing to this round of bargaining?
  • I’m on the Table Team
  • I’m on the Statewide Bargaining Committee
  • I‘m organizing & agitating on my local campus
What aspects of working conditions do you want to see improve for your fellow librarians?
Academic Freedom, Salary (ending the “Prestige Penalty” of working at the UCs, when community colleges and the Cal States pay their librarians 20% more!), Professional development support, Housing assistance, and improved working conditions
When you’re not fighting for the rights of Unit 17 members, what do you do to unwind?
I play billiards in a league, go for bike rides on the beach, and I love to sing.
What is you favorite movie?
The World According to Garp
Tell us something most people wouldn’t know or guess about you.
I have dual citizenship in Ireland and the US.