A Purpose.

Welcome to Renewals, a blog discussing low morale in North American libraries. This blog supports my original research on this topic and also serves as a point of reference and resource for those who have faced or are currently experiencing low morale in academic library environments. This space is also for anyone who is concerned about preventing workplace abuse. By the way, because of my study’s definition of low morale, I use the terms workplace abuse, workplace neglect, and low morale interchangeably.

Participant data in my study revealed that low morale is the result of repeated and protracted exposure to emotional, verbal/written, and system abuse or neglect in the workplace. While my original study focuses on academic libraries, the general response to my research has alerted me that the trajectory and outcomes of the experience may also apply to other library environments. I hope this outlet is also helpful to anyone to whom this applies.

My first few blogs reflect content I originally published at The Ink On The Page, a project I began last year. As this space develops, I will include original content focusing on my 2017 study,  my forthcoming study centering on the low -morale experiences of racial and ethnic minority academic librarians, and other ideas and projects that spring from these works.

I have also created an online community for  librarians who are familiar with low morale (Renewers).  Along with this space, I hope Renewers are able to recognize, reduce, and resolve their experiences, return to a fuller sense of joy, and recapture purpose in their careers and communities of service. Moreover, I’d like to offer this space for sustained constructive dialogue on this important topic – let’s connect, create strategies, and fulfill positive outcomes for the long-term improvement of our profession.

All Best,

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P.S. You can keep up with my other research and news here!

 

 

 

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Renewal Workshop at NCLA 2019 Conference

I’m very honored to announce that the Renewal Workshop will be offered at the North Carolina Library Association’s Biennial Conference in October. The workshop is generously sponsored by the NCLA Roundtable for Ethnic Minority Concerns (REMCO)

The Renewal Workshop is slated as a pre-conference event and is scheduled for Tuesday, October 15 from 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Registration is limited and will close about a month before the event. 

Learn more.

From the May 2019 Course: Course Evaluations

This post is the second of a two-part series of items I’m sharing from the second session of my course, “Deconstructing the Low-Morale Experience in Academic Libraries,” which was offered via Library Juice Academy in May 2019.

Following are some summarized results of the course evaluation. The evaluation was voluntary with 31% of participants responding.

What expectations were met during this course?

“I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I signed up for this course. I saw taking the course as an opportunity to improve my work/low morale experience. My library leader had already failed me, as did our HR department, so what did I have to lose? This course was a revelation. I learned to trust my instincts, and I have greatly improved my willingness to move forward in my job.

“Being able to identify and name the factors at play, learn the commonalities of the LM experience, learn some tools for coping/mitigating, gain perspective.”

“The reading & presentations in combination with the reflections & forum posts truly guided me in the process of deconstructing my low morale.”

Share any items you wish were covered in this course.

“I would have wished to incorporate a few more cultural elements that I believe are part of the [overall] LIS environment; such as technological disruption to the field, and what I believe is a lack of proactive education to the community outside LIS of what we do and why it is important”

“I got what I needed. The course was perfect!”

Share something that you learned in this course or a concept that was defined more clearly as a result of this course.

I was very surprised to learn that the scope of the low morale experience in libraries was far greater than I had anticipated. Information in this area has been discussed and written about for far longer than I would have guessed. It make me wonder why we have not made more improvements in this area. I guess the best lessons are worth repeating?”

Enabling systems–very helpful in framing, gaining perspective.

Please share if any mental or emotional impacts of low-morale improved – even incrementally – as a result of this course.

Hearing classmates’ perspectives and immersing myself in the course materials has helped a lot with the cognitive dissonance, despair, and isolation resulting from my [low-morale experience.

“I feel that I am more positive about my situation at work and can be self-reliant in improving my interactions at work. I have several ideas on how I can be a change-maker and be more supportive of my colleagues who may also be suffering for a low morale experience.

How has this course impacted your career outlook and/or your approach to your daily librarianship practice?

This course helped me commit to de-centering my professional identity. I want it to be a smaller part of who I am overall.”

“Since I am [close to] retirement, I feel that this course has given me some tools that will make it possible for me to have a satisfying end of career experience in my current role.”

What are your immediate plans to continue your positive recovery (personally and/or at work)?

More self-care ; more listening ; more support of others.

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From the May 2019 Course: Suggested Readings from Students

This post is the first of a two-part series of items I’m sharing from the second session of my course, “Deconstructing the Low-Morale Experience in Academic Libraries,” which was offered via Library Juice Academy in May 2019.

Throughout the course, students shared readings that are helping them change their work culture or better understand issues related to low-morale (i.e., burnout, vocational awe, emotional labor, etc.).

A full list of suggested items coming from the May course follows. 

Accardi, M. (2015). The souls of our students, the souls of ourselves: Resisting burnout through radical self-care. Retrieved from https://www.scribd.com/document/283868443/Accardi-PaLA-CRD-Keynote-Final-2015

Bair, S. (2005). Toward a code of ethics for cataloging. Technical Services Quarterly, 23(1): 13-26. Retrieved from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.895.2556&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Katz, J. (2018). Interaction safety: Creating productive interactions in your organization. Retrieved from https://ideas.bkconnection.com/interaction-safety-creating-productive-interactions-in-your-organization

Pinchot, G. (1985). Intrapreneuring: Why you don’t have to leave the corporation to become an entrepreneur. New York: Harper & Row.

White, E. (2016). What it means to stay [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://erinrwhite.com/what-it-means-to-stay/

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Report Update: Deauthentication Survey Results

[This post was originally published on June 3, 2019 at The Ink On The Page.]

Late last spring I shared the original results of my deauthentication survey with TIOTP readers. The survey came out of my desire to explore this sub-phenomenon that seems to occur for racial/ethnic minority academic librarians who are experiencing low morale (repeated and protracted exposure to workplace abuse and neglect – Kendrick, 2017). As I reviewed the data, I solidified a definition of the term: 

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

  1. the influence of their ethnic, racial, or cultural identity,  and 
  2. 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)

The following results reflect 108 responses (up from 67 responses in June 2018).

  • 28% African-American; 24% Asian; 16% Caucasian; 5% American Indian/Alaska Native
  • 85% female
  • 80% have engaged in deauthentication
  • 73% have reduced or avoided conversations about personal or family relationships
  • 72% have reduced or avoided discussions of religion, politics, or social viewpoints
  • 70% have reduced or avoided conversations about cultural or ethnic (formal or informal) traditions
  • 58% have reduced or avoided conversations about non-work related activities, hobbies, or interests
  • 58% have changed or (re)considered creating or sharing content on their social media accounts
  • 53% have changed or (re)considered clothing presentation
  • 47% have changed or reconsidered body movements or non-verbal behaviors
  • 45% have changed accent, speaking tone, or language structure

The survey remains open, and I will periodically share updates on this blog.

Works Cited

Kendrick, K.D. (2018, Feb. 5). Considering: Deauthenticity in the workplace. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2BWTqkR

Kendrick, K.D. (2017). The low-morale experience of academic librarians: A phenomenological study. Journal of Library Administration, 57(8): 846-878. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01930826.2017.1368325

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Mentioned: Social justice, archives, and low-morale

Aaisha Haykal deftly intertwines gaps and biases of historical record-keeping and preservation and the work that should (and continues to be) done to correct such gaps and oversights. She links these ideas to a summary of sessions presented at the 2018 Society of American Archivists Annual Meeting and injects established research into how archivists can perform their work and critique through the lens of social justice. With regard to the 2017 low morale study, Hakyal asserts,

Kendrick’s work underlines using a social justice lens is an ongoing process that cannot be used just for collecting areas. It also has to be used when describing collections, engaging with our researchers and the public, and implementing fair and equitable labor practices. Acknowledging this can be hard work and raise tough questions about the future and sustainability of institutions themselves. Developing a social justice lens means recognizing where there are flaws in the organizational and institutional structure and taking actions to remedy them.  

Read the full article (begins on page 5).

Report: Barriers to Authenticity for PoC Academic Librarians

[This content was originally published on May 20, 2019 at The Ink On The Page.]

This is the second of two blogposts sharing some of the qualitative data offered by respondents to my ongoing survey on deauthenticity in racial and ethnic minority academic librarians (read the initial qualitative report on deauthentication and library practice impacts here). For review, 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

  1. the influence of their ethnic, racial, or cultural identity,  and 
  2. 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)

The following data are responses to the survey’s final question,“What do you believe may happen at your workplace or in your library career if you do not engage in deauthentication?”

  • “White coworkers will be uncomfortable or will make cringeworthy comments.”
  • “Probably microaggressions and other hassles would increase.”
  • “At this point, nothing. I am tenure track and my board likes me ( for the most part), but they are older. If my biggest supporters were to die before I get tenure then I would be worried about my job security. Beyond that, I feel like I have no mobility in my position, partially because of perceptions about who I am. I am not taken seriously and I do not get the support I need from administration, but I cannot complain.”
  • “I have been in meetings where potential candidates for employment have been accused of displaying stereotypical behavior even though they did not engage in it during the interview. The accusers recall this behavior even when challenged to specify the details. I work with people who weaponize cultural practices, clothing, hairstyles, and gestures as evidence of otherness and proof that the person would not make a good fit. I would not have been hired if I did not engage in deauthentication.”
  • “I’m generally authentic and it has isolated me and prevented me from being seen as management material, being authentic makes me seem like I’m not a team player. It makes others at work avoid me. They don’t celebrate me.”
  • “I’m already “othered” by being a POC in a predominately white institution. I believe that if I was my authentic self, white women in particular would be even further alienated from me and would feel even more threatened by me. In my double digit career finding points of relatability to white women is frankly impossible and it’s not an effort that white women make. So (I’m realizing this as I type) I make myself and my personality smaller, I take up less space, time and say less.”
  • “A reputation as an outsider, unworthy of promotion, assistance, and generally a loss of credibility.”
  • “It has been happening. I have stopped deauthentication. My hair is now long and I wear my headband often at work I am reclaiming my indigenous heritage. This will be used against me–I’m sure. It is my experience that POC must adhere strictly to Whiteness or suffer career consequences.”
  • “I’ll be labeled a “troublemaker” and “bad fit” and be pushed out of my position through lack of funding and support for professional development, stalled out salary, and watching as others with less experience make unusually large advancements in their careers. This is not something I believe will happen—this is something I know will happen as I’ve watched it happen to others in my department for a variety of different reasons (though not race, as I am the only POC hire within at least the past dozen librarian hires).”
  • “In [my] first professional library job at a community college, I was naive about what the consequences to not engaging in deauthentication. I was more myself at work (at least at the beginning), which means loud and straight to the point.When it came time for my first review, I lost points for “unprofessional behavior” and my supervisor, who was a white woman, sited that I at times seemed “elevated.” To this day I’m not exactly sure what exactly she was trying to say with the word “elevated”, but it certainly wasn’t positive. I know I am often regarded as too loud and obnoxious, and colleagues in the past have definitely “shushed” me or told me to “calm down” when I was only expressing excitement, but I wasn’t expecting to be marked down for it in an official review.”
  • “I’d be way less stressed and able to focus more on my actual job.”
  • “I would get more work done; have better relationships with colleagues and patrons.”
  • “I think that the workplace would be forced to recognize that everyone is different and that who I am as a librarian who happens to be Black is not something I need to change. It is something that should be supported by the institution. Engaging in deauthentication rewards the bad behaviors of others, including the institution, and makes it more difficult for others to enter the field or for me to want to stay.”

Final data analysis from my low-morale study on racial and ethnic minority academic librarians reveal that deauthentication is an (additional) impact factor in PoC low-morale experiences; while this group was not asked about low-morale specifically, we can infer from their included descriptions of systemic abuse, emotional abuse, and negligence, that it is possible that they are moving through these experiences as they deauthenticate.

Works Cited

Kendrick, K.D. (2018, Feb. 5). Considering: Deauthenticity in the workplace. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2BWTqkR.

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Low-Morale Experience Assessment Survey (May 2019)

The session session of my Library Juice Academy course, “Deconstructing the Low-Morale Experience in Academic Libraries,” is now in its third week. I asked students enrolled in the course to participate in a quick Low-Morale Experience Assessment survey, just so we could get a quick gauge on what the landscape looks like for this cohort.

Course attendees agreed I could share the aggregated results. There are sixteen people enrolled in the class, and they hail from from public, academic, and school libraries in North America. The following results reflect the responses of fourteen participants (survey participation was optional). 

  • 86% agree they have experienced low-morale according to the 2017 Kendrick study definition.
  • 50% indicate their low morale experience occurred/is occurring in their current and past workplaces.
  • 50% indicate their experience has lasted three months or fewer.
  • 79% indicate that the perpetrators are library administrators; 57% indicate library supervisors or managers; 43% indicate library colleagues.
  • 93% indicate they experience(d) system abuse; 71% experience(d) negligence; 57% experience(d) emotional abuse; and 50% experience(d) verbal/written abuse.
  • Uncertainty & Mistrust (93%), Leadership Styles (79%), Staffing/Employment (71%), Contagion (64%) and Human Resources Limitations (50%) are major contributors to the LME.
  • 93% of respondents indicate feelings of Disillusion; 86% of respondents indicate Anger; 77% indicate Regret; 71% tied with Sadness and Worry; 64% tied with Depression and Skepticism, and 57% indicated Despair.
  • 50% have developed physical health conditions as result of their LME, including hypertension, insomnia, stress-induced muscular conditions, and gastrointestinal distress.
  • 64% have developed mental health conditions as a result of their LME, including anxiety and (increased) depression, reduced self-esteem, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • 64% have noticed/experienced a desire to change careers; a four-way tie of 54% of participants have also noticed/experienced decreases in work productivity, professional engagement, and willingness to collaborate and an increase in absenteeism; and 50% have noticed/experienced increased procrastination.

These results give a real-time snapshot of the low-morale experience as perceived by colleagues currently dealing with this phenomenon. I appreciate their willingness to allow me to share this data with the public.

View the October 2018 cohort’s Low-Morale Assessment Survey results.

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