A Purpose.

Welcome to Renewals, a blog supporting my original research on workplace morale. If you are interested in:

  • preventing workplace toxicity and incivility (including bullying and mobbing),
  • increasing authentic collegiality and civility,
  • cultivating humane/empathetic leadership, and
  • supporting/re-centering the positive links of workplace wellness and career/job satisfaction –

in North American workplaces – welcome! This space also serves as a point of reference and resource for many of these topics, which are frequently discussed in research literature, spheres of commentary, and on social media platforms.

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 response to my research has alerted me that the trajectory and outcomes of the experience may also apply to other library and workplace environments. As a result, I have expanded my research to public libraries, and general North American workplaces. I hope this outlet is helpful to anyone familiar with the experience.

My first few blogs reflect content I originally published at The Ink On The Page, a project I began in 2017. As this space develops, I will include original content focusing on my workplace morale-related research projects and other ideas and activities that spring from these efforts.

I have also created an online community (Renewers) for library employees who are familiar with low morale and who are interested in increasing balance and engagement at work and clarity in their careers.  You may also find Renewals/Renewers connections on Twitter and Instagram. Additionally, I am offering colloquia for employees or organizations who are committed to promoting and supporting the goal to reduce or eradicate workplace abuse and neglect. Along with this blog, I hope Renewers in all kinds of careers can able to recognize, reduce, and resolve their experiences, return to a fuller sense of joy, and recapture purpose in their careers and workplaces. 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 professions.

All Best,


P.S. Learn more about my broader mission and activities here!




Report: The Renewal Presentation at Amigos Library Services (June 2021)

Late last month, I led a virtual Renewal Presentation hosted by Amigos Library Services. About 100 people registered for the event, which was offered to ALS members, and I was happy to see the folks who could attend.

Event attendees are offered an opportunity to take two surveys: 

  • Pre-Presentation Questionnaire (basic demographics and impetus for joining the event)
  • Low-Morale Experience Survey (exploring basic markers of a low-morale experience)

At the end of the event, attendees are also offered a chance to evaluate the Presentation.

Following is a selection of data from the surveys and the evaluation (quantitative queries show majority responses only).

Pre-Presentation Questionnaire Highlights

  • Represented areas of practice
    • 24% Administration
  • Career length
    • 68% 10 years or more
  • Topic Interest
    • 40% Emerging countermeasures and best practices to reduce/interrupt low morale
  • Attendee Type
    • 29% Supervisor or Manager (to begin exploring workplace dynamics and processes associated with low morale)

Anticipated skills or goals to cultivate:

“What a leader can do to mitigate low morale.”

“A decision on whether or not to stay in my position.”

“How to talk to managers/supervisors effectively about low morale that they perpetuate/perpetrate.”

“Ways to cope and ways to encourage others.”

“To empathize better and recognize more clearly what others may be going through.”

 Low-Morale Experience Survey Highlights 

  • Have you experienced low morale?
    • 87% Yes
  • Length of low-morale experience
    • 36% 1 – 3 years
  • Perpetrators of abuse
    • 29%  Library administrators
  • Types of workplace abuse experienced:
    • 34% Emotional
  • Feelings experienced during low morale:
    • 16% Frustration
  • What contributed to low-morale experience?
    • 17% Leadership Styles
  • Behaviors noted/considered:
    • TIE: 17% Decreased professional engagement; A decrease in work productivity

Presentation Evaluation Report Highlights

Things learned or more clearly defined:

“Strategies that actually stop the abusive/negligent behavior vs. coping strategies.”

“This made me realize that a lot of my physical problems stem from working with some toxic

Share how attending this Presentation may influence your daily or long-term library practice:

“As someone who aspires to library administration, this presentation has greatly influenced my outlook and goals in those roles. Also, I often cite Kaetrena in my own research and presentations.”

“I can be an informal leader and take control of a bad situation, which I never thought to do before.”

“I feel empowered to tell workplace abusers in the moment that what they’d said/done is not kind or productive. I feel more confident in also following up in writing to document what happened. I reached out to our HR supervisor after the training to document what I’ve personally been doing to address a workplace situation and used some of the strategies/terminologies presented in the training. Basically, I feel more empowered and rational after having been seen/heard throughout this presentation.”

Recovery plans (personally or at work):

“I am going to work on my communication and boundary setting. Additionally, I am really working
to take back my power because I often give it away unintentionally.”

“I need to speak up and let people know how they are negatively impacting me.”

Topics recommended for discussion/consideration:

“The power relationship between employees – manager and employee – and how that limits honest
interactions without repercussions.”

“Holding systems accountable and/or reflecting on when it’s time to walk away.”

Thanks so much to Presentation attendees, and a special thanks to Tracy Byerly and Jodie Borgerding at ALS for both their invitation to facilitate and support during the event.

Ready to host a Renewal Presentation? Let’s plan your event!


Mentioned – Civility Exercise at Colorado State Library

The Colorado State Library hosted a session titled “How Rude! The Price of Incivility in the Workplace,” led by Jean Heilig and Christine Kreger. Along with the course is a short exercise on recognizing and integrating civility in workplaces. This website and Renewer’s Facebook Community are included in the resources list. View the presentation or review the exercise.

Mentioned: supervisor impact on morale

Kennedy and Garewal offer quantitative support to the role of formal leaders – in this case, supervisors – on academic librarian morale. Their objectives include gathering a quantitative foundation for measuring academic librarians’ workplace morale and analyzing variables that intersect with academic librarian morale and what supervisors influence. The study finds links between morale and employee turnover.

Read the article (possible paywall).

Resources – For the Good of the Order


Events (4)

Last month I teamed up with Amanda M. Leftwich, founder of mindfulinlis, for our first-ever collaborative program, For the Good of the Order. The event was created in observance of Mental Health Awareness Month, and offered an intentional space for library employees to make time to slow down and consider and apply best practices of mental health and/or emotional hygiene.

Each Wednesday in May at 12:15PM EST, we met on Instagram for a short live event, which included a short reflection and mindful practice. Here is a short recap of our meetings – the links take you to the Instagram lives:

mindfulinlis also shared helpful resources after each event – Review Amanda’s resources.

Thanks for joining us last month!


Low Morale: Transmuted Into Sound

Mimi Stockton, a student at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill School of Library and Information Science (UNC-CH SLIS), has created a digital scholarship project Titled, “Sounds of Low Morale: An Analysis of the Demoralizing Experiences of Librarians and Their Triggers Through Sound.”

Using quantitative and qualitative data reported in my published Public Librarian Low Morale study, Stockton recorded “book sounds,” connecting them to trigger events, and she also includent automated recordings of participant quotes. Through this work, Stockton aims to “create an auditory experience that can evoke a connection with the data, and will hopefully drive listeners to learn more about the subject and bring awareness to the severity of this issue.”

Read more the process Stockton used for this unique data physicalization project, which is housed at UNC-CH SLIS’ Equity in the Making Lab, and view the video featuring the project’s audio file below. 

Mentioned: Critical librarianship at work

Feretti discusses the development of critical librarianship. particularly as it relates to information literacy pedagogy, while recognizing that the development of critical libraianship in the literature and in the library instruction classroom has not been reflected in library colleagues’ daily interactions. As such, Ferretti argues that contemporary critical librarianship feels performative. 

The original low morale study (2017) and the study centering racial and ethnic minority academic librarians (with Ione T. Damasco, 2019) are mentioned in Ferreti’s closing statement underscoring the need for empathy and associated states of courage, which would move critical librarianship from theory to action.

Read the article.

For the Good of the Order – A Mental Health Awareness Month LIS Collaboration

Events (4)

In observance of Mental Health Awareness Month, Renewals is partnering with mindfulinlis founder Amanda M. Leftwich to lead For the Good of the Order, a collaborative LIS well-being event.  Every Wednesday in May, join Renewals and mindfulinlis for five minutes to take some time in community and slow down for short renewal and awareness practices. We’ll see you on Instagram Live at 12:15pm ET/ 11:15am CT / 10:15am MT / 9:15am PT. 

Follow Renewals on Instagram and Twitter.

Follow mindfulinlis on Instagram and Twitter.


Report: The Renewal Colloquium at the Rochester Regional Library Council (April 2021)

Last week I led a virtual Renewal Colloquium hosted by the Rochester Regional Library Council. About 60 people registered, and approximately 40 people attended the live event.

Event attendees are offered an opportunity to take two surveys: 

  • Pre-Colloquium Questionnaire (basic demographics and impetus for joining the event)
  • Low-Morale Experience Survey (exploring basic markers of a low-morale experience)

At the end of the Colloquium, I distributed a evaluation form. Following is a selection of data (quantitative queries show majority responses only)

Pre-Colloquium Questionnaire Highlights

  • Represented areas of practice
    • 33% Reference & Instruction
  • Career length
    • 60% 10 years or more
  • Topic Interest
    • 41% Emerging countermeasures and best practices to reduce/interrupt low morale

 Low-Morale Experience Survey Highlights 

  • Have you experienced low morale?
    • 75% Yes
  • Length of low-morale experience
    • 43% 1 – 3 years
  • Perpetrators of abuse
    • 24%  Library administrators
  • Types of workplace abuse experienced:
    • 32% Emotional
  • Feelings experienced during low morale:
    • 14% Frustration
  • What contributed to low-morale experience?
    • 16% Leadership Styles
  • Behaviors noted/considered:
    • 16% Decreased professional engagement
    • TIE: 15% Decreased willingness to collaborate; Increased procrastination; Decreased work productivity

Colloquium Evaluation Report Highlights

Topics recommended for discussion/consideration:

“How to deal with situations when you feel like you can’t walk away.”

“[M]ore about self-compassion and setting/enforcing boundaries.”

Things learned or more clearly defined:

“[W]hat different types of abuse look like in the workplace. That negligence is abuse. examples of self-preservation tools.”

“The concept of taking care of yourself was defined much more clearly and made me think of times when I didn’t put myself and my mental health ahead of my work. I have a lot I still need to work on but this session was a much-needed step in the right direction.”

“[V]ocational awe…very useful.”

Share a specific skill or goal you hope to get closer to or realize as a result of attending this Colloquium:

“Investigating pathways to stop rumination.”

“Develop skills as a trauma-informed leader.”

“As a result of attending this colloquium I realized that I cannot just hang-out in my current position (even if it is tenured) because the institutionalized neglect is not acceptable to me. A change of administration is not going to solve the issue if the other frogs are happily lounging in the boiling water… Thank you. I have languished while weighing options before, as I am geographically bound due to family. Your presentation made it clear, even if a reduced salary is involved, I need to get out. Which won’t mean other people have won, merely that I will have saved myself.”

Recovery plans (personally or at work):

“Look into daily practices I can put in place to shore myself up against low morale. Attending this workshop helped me to realize I need to build positive habits on my good work days as well as my bad work days, so that I’ll have tools already in place and in practice when bad days happen at work.”

“Set boundaries, and to speak more clearly.”

“This time is really difficult for me. I’m not sure what I can or will do.”

Thank you to the Colloquium attendees, and a special thanks to Laura Osterhaut, RRLC Executive Director, for her invitation and support during the planning and during the event.

Ready to host a Renewal Colloquium? Let’s plan your event!


Three Years Up

Today marks Renewals’ three-year anniversary (yesterday was the three-year anniversary of Renewers – Renewals’ connected Facebook community). I recognize that these events also are happening at one year into the COVID-19 Pandemic, and I am hopeful that national and global vaccination efforts will mean communities will be able to safely reconvene soon. In the meantime, Renewals spaces and communities  – along with related research and professional development opportunities – continue to solidify and expand.

Renewers, the online Facebook community, now has over 1,000 members, and I also created social media spaces on Instagram and Twitter (315 & 744 followers respectively at press time). I’ve presented my work on general and BIPOC-centric low-morale experiences through various keynote addresses at virtual conferences – most recently, I offered the opening keynote at the inaugural Conference on Academic Library Management (CALM); additionally, I completed my Leaving Low Morale study (I’m still considering where to submit the manuscript) and my study of  public librarian low-morale experiences was published earlier this year in Partnership: The Canadian Journal for Library and Information Research and Practice. Currently I am analyzing data from my formal leader low morale study. Since the formal U.S. Federal acknowledgement of the COVID-19 Pandemic, I’ve been tracking how library organizations’ responses to the Pandemic have impacted ongoing low-morale experiences. The survey remains open, and I’ve presented results and/or discussed mental and physical impacts in a variety of venues:

This coming Friday (March 26), I’m slated to present the latest results of my survey at the BLOSSOM conference, hosted by the National Network of Libraries of Medicine.

Several interviews about my low-morale research and approach were published, including The Librarian Parlor, The Professional Development Digest (BCALA), Library Journal, and Infobase. Podcasts are resurging, and social media “lives” are increasingly popular, so I’ve also shared my ideas on low-morale countermeasures with LibVoices and @mindfulinlis

Last year I continued teaching my low morale courses on the Library Juice Academy platform (“Deconstructing the Low-Morale Experience in Academic Libraries” and “Reimagining Workplace Empowerment: Reducing Low Morale for Minority Librarians”), which were offered in January and May 2020. 

During this third year, I expanded my professional development/facilitation offerings by launching the Renewal Presentation and the Renewal Colloquium. These shorter but still intentional offerings allow for pointed attendee inquiries and offer opportunities for individuals and organizations to explore if the more intensive Renewal Workshop or Renewal Seminar could be useful for them. In 2020 and in 2021, I have hosted (or am slated to host) a mix of Renewal events with the following organizations:

  • Academic Library Association of Ohio (October 2020)
  • Weber State University – Stewart Library (November 2020)
  • Clemson University Libraries (November 2020)
  • African American Medical Librarians Alliance (February 2021)
  • Rochester Regional Library Council (April 2021)

More opportunities to work with library membership/professional organizations and libraries of all kinds are solidifying, and it is my desire to continue public speaking on the range of data points that my research uncovers where workplace abuse and neglect are concerned. 

I am thankful that my research gives me the opportunity to offer voice and context to the realities of contemporary library employees and their workplaces, and I will continue to improve. Please look forward to it.

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

All Best,