Report Update: Academic Library Low Morale Spot-Check Survey Results (August 2018)

Earlier this year I shared the initial results of my quick survey on low-morale concerns and experiences. The goal of the survey is to keep on-the-pulse on what’s going on with people who are currently experiencing low morale, and to offer people a place to share anonymously their immediate concerns about their low-morale experience or offer feedback about the study.

In the time since I first shared results, I’ve presented the low-morale study at the Azalea Coast Library Conference (Wilmington, NC) and the British Columbia Library Association Conference (Vancouver, BC, Canada). I’ve also presented two webinars (North Carolina Library Association and Georgia Library Association).  In October, I’ll be teaching a course to help aid in low morale recovery. 

As a reminder, my study defines low morale as the result of repeated and protracted exposure to emotional, verbal/written, and systemic abuse or negligence in the workplace (Kendrick 2017).

The following results reflect 95 responses (up from the original 56 responses in March 2018). 

  1. 99% of respondents have witnessed or experienced low morale in academic environments.
  2. 52% of respondents are “front-line” employees (i.e., not supervisors, managers, department heads, or administrators); 21% are managers; 7 % are administrators.
  3. 81% of respondents indicate that their current workplace has low-morale issues.

Broad issues and causes of low morale were indicated. They include the issues from the last update, and there are upticks in reports of:

  • Authoritarian/toxic leadership and associated behaviors, including sabotage, information hoarding, lying, and favoritism
  • Cultural shifts in the library, including generation gaps and changing job roles and associated expectations
  • Administrative negligence from campus officials
  • Verbal abuse, including fighting and combative behavior
  • Poor staffing or the use of poor staffing as a weapon (including inequities in staffing due to status; e.g. scheduling part-time employees on “undesired” duties more than full-time employees).

The survey remains open if you’d like participate. Periodically, I’ll share updates or thoughts and ideas as more responses come in.

Works Cited

Kendrick, K.D. (2017). The low-morale experience of academic librarians: A phenomenological study. Journal of Library Administration, 57(8): 846-878. Retrieved from


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