Report Update: Public Libraries Low Morale Spot-Check (July 2022)

In addition to collecting low-morale spot-check data for academic libraries, I’m also gathering spot-check data for public libraries – you can review earlier public library data here. Both surveys remain open, so please participate according to your current library workplace.  Since the original report, I’ve published a low-morale study focusing on public librarians.

The following summation reflects 55 responses (up from 21 during the last report).

  • 98% have witnessed or experienced low morale in a public library environment
  • 56% are working in public service roles (e.g., Reference, Children’s Services, etc.); 23% are managers
  • 87% indicate that their current workplace has low morale issues

The following data are qualitative, in response to the query, “What issues of low morale are you concerned with?”:

  • “Exhaustion from frontline worker status during pandemic.”
  • “Lack of communication, support, and understanding, especially in regards to experiences and input from POC.”
  • “How much time do you have? Staff safety, staffing, administration’s disconnect from frontline workers. Lack of opportunities to be included in decision-making discussions. ‘Do more, with less’ is rhetoric and it’s bogus.” 
  • “Lack of passion and engagement in our work, leading to declining customer service and innovation.”
  • “Our system is currently facing abuse from patrons, administration, and incivility among colleagues.”
  • “Negligence resulting from that poor communication and under-staffing. Everyone is “too busy” to address concerns about morale, much less the lack of professional development or any of the other nice things that are supposed to make one’s job feel fulfilling. The supervisor of my department is also in administration, and admin duties (of which there are many) will always come before supervisor duties. They’re well-meaning, but if I got hit by a bus tomorrow, they’d have no clue about the qualifications needed to fill my position.”
  • “Constant change, micromanaging, only Black manager, passive aggressive use of annual evaluations as tools to not ask questions and instill fear of minor mistakes.”
  • “Staff forced to report to library during the pandemic despite stay at home order. Fear of furloughs and vocational awe used to keep library staff from questioning whether we are safe or not.”
  • “Extremely low pay for a high rent county. Privatized library system that does not pay a livable wage for degreed professionals, nor are noteworthy raises ever given. Many of us rely on family support, or are living hand-to-mouth. High turnover rate due to this, and mismanagement all around.”

These data underscore results from my public librarian study, including the impact factor of Personal Safety, along with related frameworks (e.g., vocational awe and resilience narratives) and Enabling Systems (e.g., leadership). The impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic is also evident (if you’d like to participate in my data collection project on impact of the Pandemic on low-morale experiences, you may do so here).

I will occasionally share more results as I obtain more data, so please check back!


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: