A Purpose.

Welcome to Renewals, a blog discussing low morale in academic libraries. This blog supports my work 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 systemic abuse or neglect in the workplace. While my 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 academic 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,


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





Enabling Systems of Low Morale in PoC Academic Librarians

[This content was originally published on July 2, 2018 at The Ink On The Page.]


If you’re following this blog – or my work in general – you’re aware that I’m currently working on data analysis for my PoC Low Morale study.  After I closed the interview phase, I asked my colleague (and friend) Ione Damasco to join me on this project. 

During the past few months, we’ve been working intensely: reading, re-reading and coding swaths of qualitative data from over a dozen racial and/or ethnic minority librarians working in North American academic libraries.  

We have learned that our results will not change the trajectory of low morale – instead, what is markedly different are the number of Enabling Systems of the experience for this group of LIS professionals. 

The original Enabling Systems (ES) of the low-morale experience (which also affect PoC librarians) are:

  • Uncertainty & Mistrust
  • Leadership
  • Faculty Status/Tenure & Promotion
  • Human Resources Limitations
  • Contagion
  • Staffing & Employment

The data show there are ten(!) more ES that affect this group in addition to the ones listed above. These ES are interconnected, and the five major systems span aspects of racism, Whiteness, diversity, work-life landscapes, and social psychology. You can learn more about the Diversity-related Enabling System here.

At this time, I think our paper will focus on reporting the major (and summarizing the minor) ES, along with associated physical, emotional, and/or career impacts and possibly, implications for recruitment and retention. 

We hope to submit the article for review by the end of this summer or in early fall. Please look forward to it.

[UPDATE 8/9/18: Further data analysis has shifted the number of ES from ten to seven. Some of what were previously analyzed as ES are now categorized as separate impact factors, and others were subsumed into broader ES. In the original study there are two other impact factors besides ES: Insidious Experience Development and Contagion. So, in short, not only are PoC Librarians dealing with additional ES; they are also contending with added other continua during the experience.

Additionally – because the voices of PoC librarians and their experiences are so often de-centered or devalued, we have decided to include a report of the low-morale experience for this group along with a report of all impact factors (including ES) results. The draft is long, but we believe it is imperative to share the commonality and differences of the low-morale experience for this group.

The draft of the results have been written and will be validated by study participants soon; we are on-course for a Fall 2018 draft submission to our editors. Let me know if you have any questions!


Curated: The “Lost in the Stacks” Interview.

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.

Enjoy: http://lostinthestacks.libsyn.com/episode-376-it-could-happen-to-you

Just want to hear the interview (no music)?: Here you go!



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.

Read the article.

Introducing: A Course on Low Morale

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

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.

Learn more about registration/enrollment.

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).


Mentioned: Diversity in LIS

Dr. Donna Lanclos, an anthropologist who has done (and continues to do) amazing work in LIS, gave a talk at the University of London’s Goldsmith Library.

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).