Report Update: Low Morale Spot-Check Survey Results

Earlier this year I shared the initial results of my quick survey on low-morale concerns and experiences. The goal of the survey is to keep on-the-pulse on what’s going on with people who are currently experiencing low morale, and to offer people a place to share anonymously their immediate concerns about their low-morale experience or offer feedback about the study.

In the time since I first shared results, I’ve presented the low-morale study at the Azalea Coast Library Conference (Wilmington, NC) and the British Columbia Library Association Conference (Vancouver, BC, Canada). I’ve also presented two webinars (North Carolina Library Association and Georgia Library Association).  In October, I’ll be teaching a course to help aid in low morale recovery. 

As a reminder, my study defines low morale as the result of repeated and protracted exposure to emotional, verbal/written, and systemic abuse or negligence in the workplace (Kendrick 2017).

The following results reflect 95 responses (up from the original 56 responses in March 2018). 

  1. 99% of respondents have witnessed or experienced low morale in academic environments.
  2. 52% of respondents are “front-line” employees (i.e., not supervisors, managers, department heads, or administrators); 21% are managers; 7 % are administrators.
  3. 81% of respondents indicate that their current workplace has low-morale issues.

Broad issues and causes of low morale were indicated. They include the issues from the last update, and there are upticks in reports of:

  • Authoritarian/toxic leadership and associated behaviors, including sabotage, information hoarding, lying, and favoritism
  • Cultural shifts in the library, including generation gaps and changing job roles and associated expectations
  • Administrative negligence from campus officials
  • Verbal abuse, including fighting and combative behavior
  • Poor staffing or the use of poor staffing as a weapon (including inequities in staffing due to status; e.g. scheduling part-time employees on “undesired” duties more than full-time employees).

The survey remains open if you’d like participate. Periodically, I’ll share updates or thoughts and ideas as more responses come in.

Works Cited

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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Enabling Systems of Low Morale in PoC Academic Librarians

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

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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!

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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!

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