Report: Share Your Story Results (September 2019)

Since April 2018, I have been collecting stories of low-morale experiences from library employees from all kinds of libraries. The project, called “Share Your Story,” allows people a space to write down as much (or as little) about their most impactful incidents of workplace abuse and neglect as they want to; additionally, they are able to identify any emotional and cognitive effects or mental/physical health impacts stemming from low morale. Many have stated that reflecting on their experience is helpful to them, and they also remark that they hope their stories help others understand they are not alone in having this experience.

The qualitative statements in this project are highly individualized and sometimes I share these case studies in the Renewers Facebook group. Following are the quantitative results of this project at press time (64 responses). If you would like to participate, the portal remains open. I will occasionally share updates as more responses are collected.

  • 34% of respondents are mid-career librarians/archivists; 33% are new librarians/archivists; 31% are experienced librarians/archivists.
  • 66% are currently dealing with low-morale.
  • 40% of these incidents are happening at four-year public colleges/universities; 16% are happening at four-year private colleges/universities; 9% are happening at urban/metropolitan-based public libraries.
  • 84% of respondents experienced emotional abuse; 73% experienced negligence; 51% experienced system abuse; 44% experienced verbal/written abuse.
  • 75% of abuse was perpetrated by managers/supervisors; 69% was perpetrated by library administrators; 49% was perpetrated by colleagues.
  • During their experiences:
    • 75% noted reduced productivity
    • 66% increased their procrastination on projects
    • 58% avoided co-workers (even those whom they used to be close to)
    • 50% were absent from work more often
    • 45% rejected committee or service work
    • 44% were late to work more often
    • 42% rejected or reduced outreach and collaboration opportunities
    • 41% created rigid work schedules or protocols (e.g., “I only do what’s required”)
  • Respondents reported the following emotional reactions/impacts of their low-morale experiences:
    • 89% Anger (this includes the spectrum of anger – from minor irritation to rage)
    • 81% Sadness
    • 81% Disappointment
    • 75% Despair
    • 64% Confusion
    • 55% Shame
    • 48% Embarrassment
    • 47% Shock
  • As a result of their experiences, respondents most often developed
    • 55% Anxiety
    • 48% Sleep disorders
    • 32% Clinical depression
    • 30% Gastrointestinal disorders
    • 25% noted that the experience exacerbated symptoms of previously diagnosed conditions
  • The most popular coping strategies are:
    • 84% Talking with others 
    • 48% Mental activities (e.g., mindfulness, meditation)
    • 46% Formal counseling
    • 43% Self-talk
  • The most popular mitigation methods are:
    • 75% Looking for a new job
    • 31% Talking with Human Resources
    • 26% Leaving the LIS field


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