On sinking morale among librarians

Low morale seems to be everywhere in the book world these days, but librarians have been dealing with it for a long while.

In August 2019, LJ spoke with Kaetrena Davis Kendrick, then associate professor and associate librarian at Medford Library, University of South Carolina–Lancaster, and the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) 2019 Academic/Research Librarian of the Year, about her research on low morale among academic librarians. Using this and her earlier work on low morale among racial and ethnic minority librarians as a template, Kendrick recently completed a new study examining low workplace morale among public librarians, and is working on a report analyzing responses to a November 2018 call for librarians who wished to talk about their experiences.

What she discovered included a disturbing level of abuse coming from patrons, a lack of institutional support to help librarians resolve such issues, and a mindset in which librarians view surviving such abuses as “earning their stripes.”

LJ caught up with Kendrick to hear about the survey, its overlaps with—and differences from—her previous work, how vocational awe and resilience narratives feed into the acceptance of abuse, countermeasures to develop assertive communication practices, her current work on low morale during the COVID-19 crisis, resources for librarians who would like to find communities of support, and more.

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