Earlier this year in mid-March, I was interviewed by the folks at “Lost in the Stacks,” a radio show that airs on the Georgia Institute of Technology’s (GT) student-run WREK station. The show features alternative rock-and-roll music that relates to the show’s topic. In between sets, you’ll hear my discussion with hosts Charlie Bennett and GT librarian Marlee Givens.
The episode is the show’s 376th and is titled “It Could Happen To You.” Be sure to listen all the way to the end if you want to know a little more about something that “Trigger”s my happiness.
Title: Emotional and behavioral responses to workplace incivility and the impact of hierarchical status.
Authors: Christine L. Porath and Christine M. Pearson.
ABSTRACT: Using appraisal theory, this research examined targets’ emotional responses to workplace incivility, and how these responses impact targets’ behavioral responses. Targets who reported greater incivility reported greater anger, fear, and sadness.
Targets’ anger was associated with more direct aggression against the instigators; targets’ fear was associated with indirect aggression against instigators, absenteeism,
and exit; and targets’ sadness was associated with absenteeism. Status moderated the effects of fear and sadness. Our results underscore the need for organizations to manage civility so that they and their employees can avoid substantial direct and indirect costs associated with workplace incivility. At a broader level, our results suggest the importance of developing greater awareness about the harmful effects of fear and sadness in the workplace.
The Society of American Archivists’ Issues & Advocacy Section crafted a blogpost covering labor models for archival work. The post covers recent literature linking affect and library work; it summarily applies such literature to the environment of archives and in particular, temporary employment in that field.
I’m very pleased to share that I’ve partnered with Library Juice Academy to offer my new course, “Deconstructing the Low-Morale Experience in Academic Libraries.” The four-week intensive, asynchronous course focuses on the study’s outcomes and leverages personal expression channels, community participation, and more to help people dealing with low morale begin reflection, engage in restorative dialogue, and solidify actions that aid low morale recovery.
During data collection for the original low morale study, participants shared with me how healing the research interview process was for them. In very large part, their feedback about the reflective nature of our discussions spurred me to develop the course.
“Growth, whether personal or professional, is a process and I’ve grown a lot … in both areas. What I haven’t had time to do is reflect back on the process and what I learned and how I got to where I am now, which is a much better place than I was in [during my low-morale experience]. Sharing my experiences for you for your study has helped me to do that reflection.” – A study participant
“Speaking with you was extremely helpful. I’ve had a few other revelations about the situation, how it affected me, and how much happier I am now. Even though I’ve talked with [others] about it, it was more helpful to speak with someone from the profession. So, thank you!” – A study participant
The original low morale study’s goal was to suss out, outline, and clarify the experience of low morale; thus, it was not prescriptive. Through
study participant feedback
iterative presentations of my research
messages and discussions with colleagues about their experiences
this course is an earnest, authentic effort to help people get to the other side of low morale and regain happiness and confidence in their professional (and probably – maybe – hopefully – personal) lives.
This course offers a unique opportunity to promote and participate in professional development and self-care in the LIS field. I hope you will join me and encourage others to do the same. Let’s work together to improve our profession and promote whole-hearted and whole-self wellness and humane, intentional leadership (regardless of job title) in all American libraries.
P.S.: While the “academic libraries” portion of the course title is a nod to the focused library environment in the original study, this course is open to employees working in any library environment and who believe they are currently facing (or have dealt with) low morale (i.e., protracted exposure to workplace abuse or neglect).
She summarizes her talk here; her discussion centers on the (un-)usefulness of the term “diversity” in LIS-related initiatives and how such initiatives are subsumed or crippled by Whiteness, vocational awe, and hegemony. She dovetails these concerns into low morale, particularly issues of emotional, verbal, and system abuse (e.g., microaggressions, hiring practices, labor violations, and the like).
Title: Resilience, grit, and other lies: Academic libraries and the myth of resiliency.
Authors: Angela Galvan, Jacob Berg, and Eamon Tewell.
Supporting their 2018 research on resilience narratives, the authors share activities and then posit “resilience” and “grit” narratives and perspectives as tools that normalize employee oppression, reduction, and mistreatment in contemporary academic library workplace environments.
Earlier this year, I penned a post focusing on nascent data in my PoC Low Morale study. The data seemed to indicate another phenomenon I call deauthentication, and I crafted a working definition:
“deauthentication is a cognitive process that People of Color (PoC) traverse to prepare for or navigate predominantly White workplace environments, resulting in decisions that hide or reduce aspects of
the influence of their ethnic, racial, or cultural identity, and
the presentation of their natural personality, language, physical and mental self-images/representations, interests, relationships, values, traditions, and more,
to avoid macro- or microaggressions, shaming, incivility, punishment or retaliation, and which results in barriers to sharing their whole selves with their colleagues and/or clients.” (Kendrick, 2018)
At the end of the survey, I invited readers to participate in a short survey about their own deauthentication experiences. The survey remains open if you would like to participate; this post reflects results as press time (67 responses).
29% African-American; 23% Multi-racial; 21% Caucasian; 18% Asian
72% have engaged in deauthentication
69% have reduced/avoided discussions about religion, politics, or social viewpoints
65% have reduced/avoided discussions about personal or family relationships
62% have reduced/avoided discussions about cultural or ethnic (formal or informal) traditions
56% have reduced/avoided discussions about non-work related activities, hobbies, or interests
53% have changed or (re)considered food choices (e.g., what you bring to work to eat or to a workplace social event for general consumption)
52% have changed or reconsidered clothing presentation; and
46% have (reconsidered) body movements or non-verbal behaviors
In late May, I shared some results during my presentation hosted by North Carolina Library Association’s Racial and Ethnic Minority Concerns Roundtable (NCLA REMCo). When made available, I will share the link to that presentation.
Periodically, I will share more updates or thoughts as more responses come in.
Title: Less is not more: Rejecting resilience narratives for library workers.
Author: Meredith Farkas.
LEAD: I teach a course for San José (Calif.) State University’s School of Information on embedded librarianship in academic libraries. Some of the service models we explore in the class are very high-touch, and I was pleased this term that quite a few students expressed concerns about the labor implications of adding much more to a librarian’s already full workload….