Report: Public Libraries Low Morale Spot-Check (October 2019)

Soon after presenting my work on low morale in academic libraries, public librarians began sharing their experiences with me. I decided to expand my work to this group of information professionals, and last year I received a grant to complete that study. recently completed my draft , and I hope will be published next year. 

I was already collecting spot check data on academic librarians (the survey is still open here; read results here and here). I also began collecting public librarian data. This is the first result report from this group. The following summation reflects 21 responses.

  • 95% have witnessed or experienced low morale in a public library environment
  • 62% are working in public service roles (e.g., Reference, Children’s Services, etc.); 24% are managers
  • 81% indicate that their current workplace has low morale issues

When asked what low morale issues are concerning, they are highly individualized. Follows is a sampling of qualitative responses:

  • “racial issues, harassment of lower level staff. white power structures”
  • “High turnover of employees, resulting in constantly training new staff and starting from scratch with skill development. Lack of passion and engagement in our work, leading to declining customer service and innovation.”
  • “The main issue is a disconnect between our administration and the rest of the organization. The main issue really stems from our commission, who governs the system as a whole. Whatever they want, we do, which in theory makes sense, but we end up getting rushed into big projects/initiatives without much planning/thought. The intent is usually good, the execution not so much. Because of this, a lot of stress is put especially on public services to “do, do, do” with little direction or guidance, so that is where the low morale comes from.”
  • “Consistently short staffed, poor working conditions, high risk patron population, patron verbal abuse.”
  • “Management not caring about the employees. Being over worked, under paid, and under staffed. Managers threatening to fire workers when they come to them for help with problems. Being guilt tripped when calling in sick.”

This survey remains open, and I will occasionally share more results as I obtain more data.




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