Report: The Renewal Seminar at the University of Georgia (May 2019)

Last week I facilitated a Renewal Seminar at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. The workshop was sponsored by UGA Libraries’ Professional Development and Research Committee (thanks to Benjamin Davis, who coordinated event logistics). 


Twenty people registered, and there was a short waiting list. Eighteen people attended the seminar. Attendees represented a range of specialties across the UGA Libraries’.  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, attendees were offered a chance to evaluation the event. Following is a selection of aggregated data from the seminar (quantitative queries show majority responses only)

Pre-Seminar Questionnaire Highlights

  • Represented areas of practice
    • 58% Reference and Instruction
  • Career length
    • 79% 10 years or more
  • Goals for attending the Workshop
    • “How to help colleagues/people I supervise handle their own low morale due to reasons outside my control (low salaries, bullying by a former supervisor, etc.)”
    • “I view low morale as a barrier to recruitment, so I would like to help people see the positives in their jobs and feel good about the organization, so as to encourage others to join us.”
    • “I hope I can learn to renew my passion for the work in the long middle stretch of my career.”
    • “How to productively and kindly handle conversations where people are sharing frustrations, which can have a tendency to make everyone feel more negative without resulting in any positive change.”

 Low-Morale Experience Survey Highlights 

  • Length of low-morale experience
    • 38% 1 – 3 years; more than three years
  • Perpetrators of abuse
    • 69% Library supervisor(s) or manager(s)
    • TIE: 50% Library administrators; Library colleagues
  • Types of workplace abuse experienced:
    • 85% Negligence
    • 54% Emotional
  • Feelings experienced during low morale:
    • TIE: 90% Anger;  Disillusion
    • 61% Worry
    • TIE: 54% Sadness; Depression; Skepticism
  • What contributed to low-morale experience?
    • 84% Leadership styles
    • 77% Uncertainty/Mistrust
  • Behaviors noted/considered:
    • 82% Increased procrastination
    • TIE: 72% A decrease in professional engagement; A desire to change careers
    • 55% Decrease in work productivity

Workshop Evaluation Report Highlights

Topics recommended for discussion/consideration:

“More about neglect.”

“Even more exercises on actively combating low morale – strategies for overcoming.”

Things learned or more clearly defined:

“Shame screens – this activity was really helpful.”

“How to cope better and recognize negative behaviors.”

“Job ushering, anti-stalking, and shame as a motivation for abusive behaviors.”

“Other people have similar experiences! Even here.”

Recovery plans (personally or at work):

“Prepare for and have difficult conversations.”

“Don’t take things personally.”

“Self-care and developing outside publishing opportunities.”

Formal/informal leadership behaviors that will be applied to reduce/remove low morale at work:

“Assertive speaking.”

“More vulnerability.”

“Modeling behavior and setting standards. This was wonderful – I would have loved an even longer workshop!”

Thanks to the attendees who participated in the Seminar and to La Loria Konata, who assisted with on-site preparation.

Ready to host a Renewal Seminar? Contact me for a customized prospectus.


Now Offering: The Renewal Seminar & The Renewal Workshop

I’m thrilled to announce the launch of The Renewal Seminar and The Renewal WorkshopThese professional development offerings are an extension of my online course, and they are designed to help organizations or groups intentionally participate in the work of promoting authentic collegiality, increasing civility, modeling humane leadership, and engaging in or creating meaningful employee support and wellness advocacy structures, systems, protocols, and policies in North American libraries and workplaces of all types.

I look forward to working with organizations, professional member associations, advocacy groups, and individuals who are ready to join the movement to improve collegiality, promote library employee advocacy, and support well-being in North American workplaces.

Contact me soon to facilitate a Seminar or Workshop for you!

All Best,



ACRL 2019 Academic/Research Librarian of the Year Award Acceptance Speech

Kaetrena Davis Kendrick is presented with the ACRL 2019 Academic/Research Librarian of the Year Award by John Elliot (EBSCO) at the 2019 ACRL Conference in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo credit: ACRL, 2019.

[This post was originally published on April 18, 2019 at The Ink On The Page.]

Following are my remarks after being presented with the 2019 Association of College & Research Libraries 2019 Academic/Research Librarian of the Year Award.

Good morning everyone! I hope you’re having a great conference. I sure am!

I am unbelievably honored to be recognized with year’s Academic/Research Librarian of the Year Award. This award begins with nomination from our peers, so I’m infinitely thankful to those who did so on my behalf. They are folks who have provided guidance and support of my career for a long time, and I am grateful for their confidence in me. I’d like to thank ACRL: the ACRL Academic/Research Librarian of the Year Award Committee and ACRL President Lauren Pressley, whose ears I fear may be still recovering from the trauma of my screams of joy upon hearing I was named for this honor. I’d also like to thank GOBI Solutions from EBSCO for their support of librarians and of this award.

I began my career at a large academic library in a rapidly growing metropolis; while there, I was never really sure of the impact of my work on library users. A few years later, I continued my career at a small academic library in the University of South Carolina system, where I sharpened my campus outreach and research skills.

Currently, I am at an even smaller campus in the USC System in Lancaster. We currently have an FTE just over 1,300. Those questions about my impact on users are now clearly answered almost daily, and my research efficacy continues to grow. However, we are a small library in a rural area; thus, any constraints of funding, staffing, resources, and so on, are more deeply felt at libraries like mine – particularly at Lancaster, where we have been operating without a library director since 2015. Many of the things I’ve spearheaded stem from my wish to offer our students access and exposure to the same things they would encounter at larger institutions, and to let them know they are welcome via a sense of community. I am thankful for the opportunity to be creative and effective in my daily practice of academic librarianship, which I believe this award recognizes and validates.

Recently, I have been talking with our colleagues about their organization’s cultures – in particular, about workplace morale. This research has plainly revealed the intersections of ethics, leadership, organizational culture, collegiality, and well-being in our profession, and sparked in me a desire to serve my colleagues and co-workers where the reduction or eradication of workplace abuse and neglect is concerned. Today and moving forward, I invite you to join me in helping prioritize library employees’ professional and personal well-being as they relate to the larger LIS field and in our daily practice.

I’d like to acknowledge and thank the other librarian who works with me. Her name is Rebecca Freeman. She stands with me daily as we co-lead Medford Library.  We co-lead it – I do not do anything by myself.

Thank you to my entire family, and especially my parents: My mother, Athena Davis and my father, Timothy Davis, who have encouraged my curiosity, love of language, reading, and learning, and respect for education – in any form – from an early age. I also want to thank my partner, Brenton Kendrick, and my little one, Ethan (who are here today). I am honored that they share my life with me. They also bring me positive energy, joy, comfort, and so much love. They are who I live for, and for whom I do all that is good and correct.

I will continue to improve.

Thank you.


One Year Up.

Today marks one year since I created Renewals, and yesterday marked one year since I created the related online Facebook community, Renewers, which now includes over 200 members.

During the past year – and via these spaces – my work on low morale has continued. I’ve done several presentations and a panel session, and I have more scheduled this year. I’ve also augmented my initial focus: while I’m keeping my eye on academic libraries, I’ve also begun working with public librarians and the general workforce, gaining grant support to do so. Additionally, I hope my work on racial/ethnic minority academic librarians will be published later this year.

In 2018, I created and taught a course for Library Juice Academy, titled, “Deconstructing the Low-Morale Experience in Academic Libraries.” In May of this year, I’m slated to teach a second session of that course. 

As I continue my work, I’m really thankful for the support and interest I’ve received so far. I will identify more ways to empower library employees who are facing workplace abuse or neglect, so please look forward to what I have in store.

In addition to this blog, you are welcome to keep up with my speaking engagements and other work here.

All Best,



Enrollment Open for May 2019 Low Morale Course

“…the Library Juice class helped me tremendously… It gave me the words I needed to talk about what was happening to me. Thank you Kaetrena!” – October 2018 course participant

The second session of my course, “Deconstructing the Low-Morale Experience in Academic Libraries,” is now open for enrollment. The asynchronous course begins May 6 and runs through May 31, 2019. This course is hosted via Library Juice Academy.

NOTE: this course is open to anyone facing low-morale while working in any library environment.

First course: student-generated coursework from the first session (here and here)

First course: student-generated reading list

First course: student evaluation results.

Register now.

Panel Discussion on Dysfunction and Low Morale in Libraries

The Metrolina Library Association is hosting the panel discussion “Lifting Library Employees from Dysfunction and Low Morale” on March 14 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  I will be participating on the panel. I’m looking forward to discussing my research and answering attendee questions. 

The event is free. Register here.

Webinar: Deauthenticity in PoC Academic Librarianship

[This content was originally published on February 18, 2019 at The Ink On The Page.]

Last year the North Carolina Libary Associations’ Roundtable for Minority Ethnic Concerns (NCLA REMCo) invited me to join their Cultural Conversation’s slate.  Below is the webinar I led, titled “Exploring (de)Authenticity: Impact on PoC, Implications for Practice.”

The webinar reflects a joint effort between me and the racial/ethnic minority academic librarians who offered me data on their experiences. I discuss my concept of deauthenticity, how it manifests in the racial/ethnic minority academic librarian low-morale experience, and share the results of the informal survey, which remains open.


Tweet-dux: Stereotype Threat and Deauthenticity in the PoC Low-Morale Experience

[This content was originally published on February 18, 2019 at The Ink On The Page.]

On Twitter, I’ve been threading some results of my latest low morale study (done with Ione Damasco), which centers the experience of racial and ethnic minority academic librarians. It is my hope that this work will bring into clearer view the additional emotional labor that librarians of color bear while dealing with abuse and neglect in American library workplaces. 

The following thread introduces the impact of stereotype threat and summates my earlier discussion about the concept of deauthenticity in the PoC low-morale experience. 

  1. Stereotype threat is “a situational predicament in which individuals are at risk, by dint of their actions or behaviors, of confirming negative stereotypes about their group. It is the resulting sense that one might be judged in terms of a negative stereotype that is ‘in the air’” (Inzlicht & Schmader, 2012, 5-6).
  2. Minority academic librarians’ historic exposure to and awareness of race, culture, or ethnic stereotypes—along with their understanding that White colleagues were also aware of such stereotypes and the implicit or explicit associations with their ability to successfully execute the skills, knowledge, and abilities required of academic librarianship—were often linked to participants’ desire to preemptively offset White colleagues’ seemingly low expectations.
  3. Stereotype threat responses included behaviors they hoped would distance them from negative stereotypes: workaholism, culture-carrying (consciously working to positively represent an entire race, culture, or ethnic identity), vocational awe, and resilience cycles.
  4. A [participant] said, “I’m always in a position where I feel like I have to prove to myself, and that people are automatically—instead of assuming that I have expertise, it’s like I have to prove why I’m even there and worthy to take on these positions and prove my expertise.”
  5. During low-morale experiences, minority academic librarians traverse deauthentication, a cognitive process to prepare for or navigate predominantly White workplace environments.
  6. Deauthentication results in decisions that hide or reduce aspects of (1) the influence of ethnic, racial, or cultural identities, and (2) the presentation of natural personality, emotional responses, language, physical and mental self-images/representations, interests, relationships, values, traditions, and more.
  7. Deauthentication decisions help avoid macro- or microaggressions, shaming, incivility, punishment or retaliation, and these decisions ultimately create barriers to sharing whole selves with colleagues and/or clients.
  8. A participant noted: “[when] I walk in the door [of my workplace] . . . when I’m with [my White female colleagues], I’m really usually super quiet with them. I don’t speak up. And when I do, I make sure that I speak with very perfect English, and I have to enunciate…I mean, it’s like—I mean, I don’t have a thick accent, but I, you know, you can hear my [language] accent, sometimes, right? But when I walk in this door, I am—80% of me is left behind. I don’t bring in a lot of my culture and stuff.”

Take the deauthentication survey.

View the deauthentication webinar (presented by the North Carolina Library Association’s Roundtable for Ethnic Minority Concerns)

Works Cited

Inzlicht, M. & Schmader, T. (2012). Stereotype Threat. Oxford: Oxford University Press.



Tweet-dux: White Supremacy and Racism in the PoC Low-Morale Experience.

[This content was originally published on February 11, 2019 at The Ink On The Page.]

On Twitter, I’ve been threading some results of my latest low morale study (done with Ione Damasco), which centers the experience of racial and ethnic minority academic librarians. It is my hope that this work will bring into clearer view the additional emotional labor that librarians of color bear while dealing with abuse and neglect in American library workplaces. 

These threads expound on my earlier report of additional Enabling Systems in the PoC low-morale experience. 

  1. Participants frequently reported White colleagues’ assumptions of racial superiority as a significant cause of their low-morale experience(s).
  2. Dealing with White librarians’ unrequested guidance or advice, often given under the guise of knowing what is best for minority librarians, was frequently reported.
  3. Participants’ discussed their institutions’ active justification or downplaying of the negative outcomes of their historic and contemporary participation in or condonement of programs or events perpetuating White supremacy and racism.
  4. These justifications were evidence that their institutions remain unwilling to recognize or reconcile the long-term, still-present negative impacts of their actions on marginalized groups.
  5. Participants perceived that White colleagues discounted their preparation for, engagement in, and outcomes of their work.
  6. They perceived the discounting was motivated by White colleagues’ desires to discourage minority colleagues’ feelings of self-efficacy or trajectories of career success, even if they had no interest the same projects.
  7. Participants shared that White colleagues had limited expectations about them based on their race, culture, or ethnicity.
  8. Behaviors or comments signaling subtle or indirect racial, cultural, or ethnic discrimination were noted by study participants. (e.g. dog whistling, microaggressions).
  9. Racism increased participants’ feelings of emotional or physical limitations with regard to their immediate workplaces and/or overall career development.
  10. Multiracial participants discussed White colleagues’ reliance on phenotype to determine if it was safe to share racist opinions…
  11. Multi-racial participants also recognized that the non-White aspects of their identities were more often met with disdain than the perceived “better” qualities of Whiteness.