Report: The Renewal Seminar at the ALAO 2020 Virtual Conference (October 2020)

Late last month I facilitated The Renewal Seminar at the Academic Library Association of Ohio’s (ALAO) 2020 Virtual Conference. I’m honored that ALAO invited me to lead this session with our academic library colleagues.

Seventeen people attended the Seminar, representing a range of specialties. Seminar attendees are offered an opportunity to take two surveys: 

  • Pre-Seminar Questionnaire (basic demographics and impetus for joining the Workshop)
  • Low-Morale Experience Survey (exploring basic markers of a low-morale experience)

At the end of the Seminar, I also circulated a evaluation form. Following is a selection of data from the Seminar (quantitative queries show majority responses only)

Pre-Seminar Questionnaire Highlights

  • Represented areas of practice
    • 50% Reference & Instruction
  • Career length
    • 75% 10 years or more
  • Goals for attending the Seminar
    • “Identifying ways that past low morale experiences tinge other, more healthy environments and relationships.”
    • “I’m hoping to remain positive in the face of adversity.”
    • “Identifying techniques to improve low morale, particularly techniques that don’t cost a lot of money.”
    • “Sharing difficult information without contributing to chaotic thinking.”
    • “Combating my own low morale.”
    • “How to stop a departmental domino effect of low morale.”
    • “How to be more positive in our current situation of staff reduction.”
    • “How to take care of myself (mitigate the impact of low-morale experiences) so that I don’t transfer my pain from those experiences on my coworkers and employees (and my family).”
    • “How to improve my morale to support my own mental health and to be a support to my colleagues.”
    • “Strategies for helping others with low morale.”
    • “I hope to learn how to identify low morale and learn some techniques to combat low morale and how not to be an unintentional perpetrator of low morale.”
    • “I need to resolve my own low morale – you have to help yourself before you can help others. But, as a supervisor, I very much want to help my staff as well. I tend to be a pessimist and negative, and I know that influences my staff, so I have to learn to do better.”

 Low-Morale Experience Survey Highlights 

  • Have you experienced low morale?
    • 58% Yes
  • Length of low-morale experience
    • TIE: 30% 1 – 3 years; more than three years
  • Perpetrators of abuse
    • TIE: 60%  Library administrators; campus administrators
    • 50% Library colleagues
  • Types of workplace abuse experienced:
    • 67% Negligence
    • 56% Emotional
    • 56% System
  • Feelings experienced during low morale:
    • TIE: 90% Anger;  Frustration; Worry
    • 80% Disillusion
    • 60% Despair
    • 50% Depression
  • What contributed to low-morale experience?
      • 90% Uncertainty/Mistrust
      • TIE: 60% Leadership Styles; Staffing & Employment
      • TIE: 50% Library/Librarian Perceptions; Human Resource Limitations
  • Behaviors noted/considered:
    • 70% A decrease in work productivity
    • TIE: 50% A decrease in professional engagement; Decreased willingness to collaborate

Seminar Evaluation Report Highlights

Topics recommended for discussion/consideration:

“More info on workplace mobbing….”

“I wish there had been more time to discuss increasing workplace civility and self-preservation.”

Things learned or more clearly defined:

“The concept of shame, library nice, and negligence.”

“I hadn’t yet fully understood vocational awe. I appreciate having a better understanding. A lot of things clicked.”

“How to use assertive communication and how assertiveness is a mitigation technique AND that I need to read the books Kaetrena recommended.”

Recovery plans (personally or at work):

“My immediate plans are to work on my assertive communication and to make self-preservation practices a priority.”

“Centering wellness into my work life.”

“This time is really difficult for me. I’m not sure what I can or will do.”

I am thankful for the Seminar attendees, all of whom were engaged and thoughtful as we navigated the content and shared reflections. I also send a special thanks to Mandi Goodsett, who diligently offered coordination and technical support as we planned and led the online event.

Ready to host a Renewal Seminar? Let’s plan your event!.


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