Category Archives: Libraries & Museums

Libraries Reopen in COVID-19 Hot Spots: Are Library Staff Being Protected?

Source: Lindsey Williams, BookRiot, August 18, 2020

Arizona has made headlines quite often this summer as the state’s COVID-19 cases soared. As of August 13, the CDC reports that Arizona currently ranks third in cases per capita, falling only behind Louisiana and New York City.

In the state’s most populous county, Maricopa, two major library systems have yet to reopen. The Phoenix Public Library System, which has 17 branches located throughout the Phoenix area, states on their website that it “continues to remain closed to in-building visits in order to ensure we are doing all we can to keep our community and staff safe during our ongoing response to the Coronavirus pandemic.” The Maricopa County Library District, which has 20 branches located throughout the county, has also remained closed “in order to ensure we are doing all we can to keep our staff and community safe during this crisis.”

Despite this, several city libraries in Maricopa County made the decision to reopen, some as early as June 1. This begs the question: If the two major library systems in Maricopa County remain closed to the public to ensure the safety of their staff and patrons, what are the libraries that have chosen to reopen doing to protect their own?

US academic libraries’ staffing and expenditure trends (1996–2016)

Source: Starr Hoffman, Samantha Godbey, Library Management, Vol. 41 No. 4/5, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Purpose:
This paper explores trends over time in library staffing and staffing expenditures among two- and four-year colleges and universities in the United States.

Design/methodology/approach:
Researchers merged and analyzed data from 1996 to 2016 from the National Center for Education Statistics for over 3,500 libraries at postsecondary institutions. This study is primarily descriptive in nature and addresses the research questions: How do staffing trends in academic libraries over this period of time relate to Carnegie classification and institution size? How do trends in library staffing expenditures over this period of time correspond to these same variables?

Findings:
Across all institutions, on average, total library staff decreased from 1998 to 2012. Numbers of librarians declined at master’s and doctoral institutions between 1998 and 2016. Numbers of students per librarian increased over time in each Carnegie and size category. Average inflation-adjusted staffing expenditures have remained steady for master’s, baccalaureate and associate’s institutions. Salaries as a percent of library budget decreased only among doctoral institutions and institutions with 20,000 or more students.

Originality/value:
This is a valuable study of trends over time, which has been difficult without downloading and merging separate data sets from multiple government sources. As a result, few studies have taken such an approach to this data. Consequently, institutions and libraries are making decisions about resource allocation based on only a fraction of the available data. Academic libraries can use this study and the resulting data set to benchmark key staffing characteristics.

Promotion: An Intractable Management Problem for Academic and Public Libraries

Source: Robert P. Holley, Journal of Library Administration, Vol. 60 no. 5, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The lack of opportunities for promotion within libraries may be an important reason for job dissatisfaction and lowered morale. This column examines reasons why librarians wish to be promoted, the two paths for promotion, a short history of promotion since 1945, how promotions occur, why promotion is a challenge for management, and some suggestions to alleviate the problem. The corporate promotion model requires moving into a position with increased responsibilities and is often the only model in public libraries. The academic promotion model also offers the possibility of promotion for increased performance of the same duties, usually according to more formal rules. A blocked path for promotion can lead to leaving the library for opportunities elsewhere or create morale problems. Library managers can take some steps to increase promotion opportunities and sustain morale. The concluding section briefly argues the opposing viewpoint that the current state of promotion may benefit the profession as a whole if not some individual librarians.

Pandemic Impacts on Library Consortia and Their Sustainability

Source: George Machovec, Journal of Library Administration, Vol. 60 no. 5, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Library consortia are planning on how their funding, programs, and services may need to change with the societal tumult caused by the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic. Most consortia in North America are either state agencies or non-profit corporations which may have different approaches and options available for solving substantial budget shortfalls. Changes may need to take place in staffing, programs, and services. Some consortia may have financial portfolios which may help on filling-in budget holes. Other consortia have applied for, and received, funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to help with staffing. Many library consortia will not see a quick recovery but may have long-term consequences as their member libraries and parent organizations try to recover.

Working from Home: How We Managed Our Team Remotely with Technology

Source: Monica D. T. Rysavy & Russell Michalak, Journal of Library Administration, Vol. 60 no. 5, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the College’s library and the office of institutional research & training (OIRT), along with all departments of our college, shifted to working from home (WFH) overnight. This column shares examples from the literature regarding experiences and lessons learned from both the corporate world and academic libraries’ experiences managing teams remotely with technology. Finally, we share how the College’s academic library and OIRT transitioned to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic with the variety of online tools we already used, but further enhanced during this experience, to communicate and collaborate effectively with our team members.

Academic Librarian Burnout: A Survey Using the Copenhagen Burnout Inventory (CBI)

Source: Barbara A. Wood, Ana B. Guimaraes, Christina E. Holm, Sherrill W. Hayes & Kyle R. Brooks, Journal of Library Administration, Vol. 60 no. 5, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In the Spring of 2018, the authors administered the highly validated and reliable Copenhagen Burnout Inventory work-related sub-scale to 1,628 academic librarians employed within the United States. Academic librarians reported a total work-related burnout score of 49.6. Overall, female participants who were 35–44 years of age reported the highest levels of work-related burnout with males and older individuals reporting the lowest levels of work-related burnout. This study also revealed some interesting information about non-binary/third-gender librarians that suggests further research is warranted.

Perceptions of Work–Life Balance for Urban Academic Librarians: An Exploratory Study

Source: Tamara Townsend & Kimberley Bugg, Journal of Library Administration, Vol. 60 no. 5, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The topic of work–life balance (WLB) has gotten a lot of attention in popular literature, but there has been little library scholarship on the issue. This exploratory study presents the perceptions of 329 academic librarians on what they believe an ideal WLB looks like, and how it impacts their personal and professional responsibilities. The authors asked about strategies for a successful WLB, about overall job satisfaction, coping strategies, and more. The study is intended to prompt discussions of the topic, and lead to an exploration of how to continue to grow and support a strong workforce.

Maintaining Performance and Employee Engagement During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Source: Carine Risley, Journal of Library Administration, Vol. 60 no. 6, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This article summarizes the key elements that led to a groundbreaking new approach to performance management. Applying research from industries beyond public libraries was essential to upending the way we manage our Human Resources and inspire people to do their best work. Staying true to evidence based practices and building habits were critical to establishing and maintaining successful new processes. San Mateo County Libraries’ performance approach has received a County STAR award and a ULC Innovation honor.

Contributory Factors to Academic Librarian Turnover: A Mixed-Methods Study

Source: Christina Heady, Amy F. Fyn, Amanda Foster Kaufman, Allison Hosier & Millicent Weber, Journal of Library Administration, Vol. 60 no. 6, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Motivation: Research has shown that high employee turnover is correlated with negative overall performance and increased costs.

Problem: While employee turnover has been a significant area of study in organizational psychology and human resources management, there are few recent studies related to employee turnover in academic libraries.

Approach: This study examined the reasons librarians identified for leaving one academic institution for another within a five-year period via an online survey.

Results: Results indicate that turnover within academic libraries is influenced by several factors related to work environment, compensation and benefits, job duties and personal needs.

Conclusion: Understanding why librarians leave their positions is the first step toward improving employee retention in academic libraries.

Labor in Academic Libraries

Source: Emily Drabinski, Aliqae Geraci, and Roxanne Shirazi, Issue Editors, Library Trends, Volume 68, Number 2, Fall 2019

Articles Include:
Participatory and Ethical Strategic Planning: What Academic Libraries Can Learn from Critical Management Studies
Danya Leebaw

Abstract:
This paper introduces a subfield of management studies, “critical management studies” (CMS) in order to rethink mainstream management practices in academic libraries, with strategic planning as an illustrative example. Mainstream management models from the corporate sector prioritize efficiency, productivity, and numerical measures for assessing impact. Academic libraries have generally borrowed uncritically from this mainstream management praxis, but how well does this serve our needs, especially when it comes to the most complex issues we face? CMS draws on critical theory to interrogate the methods and goals of mainstream management, with an emphasis on denaturalizing “taken for granted” practices and prioritizing ethics and worker equity. After providing a brief overview of the history and adoption of mainstream management in academic libraries, this paper focuses on strategic planning as an illustrative exploration of CMS principles in an academic library context. Strategic planning is a common managerial practice that has been embraced by academic libraries and generally modeled after mainstream approaches. Yet, CMS scholars contend that traditional strategic planning reproduces workplace inequities and universalizes managerial interests. In this article, I employ ideas from CMS to rethink library strategic planning by opening participation, reframing problems, and embracing our ethical agency.

“Being in Time”: New Public Management, Academic Librarians, and the Temporal Labor of Pink-Collar Public Service Work
Karen P. Nicholson

Abstract:
Time is a site of power, one that enacts particular subjectivities and relationships. In the workplace, time enables and constrains performance, attitudes, and behaviors. In this qualitative research study, I examine the impact of the values and practices of new public management on academic librarians’ experiences of time when engaged in pink-collar public service (reference and information literacy) work. Data gathered during semi-structured interviews with twenty-four public service librarians in Canadian public research-intensive universities, members of the U15 Group, serve as a site of analysis for this study. Interview data were first analyzed using thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke 2006) within a constructionist framework. Sharma’s (2014) theory of power-chronography—time as power—was then used as an analytical framework. Findings suggest that, in keeping with research on the temporal experiences of faculty, academic librarians’ temporal labor is structured and controlled by the logics and institutional arrangements of new public management. Moreover, like their faculty counterparts, academic librarians experience temporal intensification and acceleration. However, as marginal educators and members of a feminized profession, librarians also encounter “recalibration” (Sharma 2014), the need to modify the tempo of their own labor to be “in time” with the dominant temporalities of faculty and students.

“The Power of Knowledge, Objectified”: Immaterial Labor, Cognitive Capitalism, and Academic Librarianship
Sam Popowich

Abstract:
This article analyzes current trends in academic librarianship from the perspective of Italian autonomist Marxism. With the rise of new technologies and the advent of a period variously called the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” “Industry 4.0,” and “The Second Machine Age,” academic librarianship is undergoing various changes in work-flow, technology, and service provision. The body of thought that developed out of the Italian Marxist tradition provides ways of thinking through and understanding these changes by placing them within a larger dynamic of capitalist development and the restructuring of labor processes. After looking at changes to academic librarianship from the perspective of immaterial labor and cognitive capitalism, the paper offers ways that academic librarianship can think about the possibility of resistance to these changes.

Low Morale in Ethnic and Racial Minority Academic Librarians: An Experiential Study
Kaetrena Davis Kendrick, Ione T. Damasco

Abstract:
Library and information science (LIS) literature about workplace bullying and burnout in academic libraries continues to grow, and a recent study has revealed the experience of low morale in the same environment. Concomitantly, research focusing on continuing recruitment, promotion, advancement, and retention problems for ethnic and minority librarians; links between North American library values and workplace abuse; and historiographies on the historic marginalization of minority librarians has also appeared in LIS literature. Citing aforementioned developments in LIS literature and the racially homogenous participant make-up of Kendrick’s 2017 study of low morale in academic libraries, this follow-up qualitative study focuses on racial and ethnic minority academic librarians to understand this group’s experience of low morale. Emerging data validate the development, trajectory, and health-related consequences of low morale; center the load of additional impact factors; and highlight the impact of low morale on recruitment and retention efforts of racial and ethnic minority librarians employed in North American colleges and universities.

Reconsidering Technical Labor in Information Institutions: The Case of Analog Video Digitization
Zack Lischer-Katz

Abstract:
Technical labor is still typically made invisible in the functioning of academic libraries and other information institutions even as they begin to disseminate technical and craft knowledge through makerspaces and other sites of library innovation. This paper seeks to recover one type of technical labor, digitization, as information work that embodies mental and manual activities and is both materially and intellectually productive. This paper draws on findings from an empirical study conducted by the author from 2015–2017 that used qualitative-interpretive methods to study the discursive and material practices of professional media preservationists as they worked to digitize analog video recordings in small-scale, high-quality (“artisanal”) digitization projects. One key finding of this research is that in order to produce “legitimate” digital copies within their institutional contexts, media preservationists must coordinate their physical and mental activities to develop understanding of the invisible electrical signals that carry the encoded video information, blending objective and subjective modalities of knowledge. These findings have implications for understanding how the invisible labor of digitization has significant mental as well as manual dimensions, contributing to ongoing debates in information studies and the digital humanities on the relationship between “doing” and “signifying” in terms of knowledge work.

Empty Presence: Library Labor, Prestige, and the MLS
Maura Seale, Rafia Mirza

Abstract:
In this essay, we explore the relationship between the MLS and professionalization within librarianship broadly and then look more specifically at academic librarianship, which increasingly turns to other means of professionalization, such as more prestigious forms of credentialing, due to its precarious existence within higher education. The emphasis on professionalization through credentialing invisibilizes library labor, which is already feminized and devalued. Academic librarianship instead seeks to gain prestige and power by associating itself with whiteness and masculinity, rendering its specialized work and knowledge domain unimportant. Removing the MLS requirement from professional library positions will not address these broader issues, and as hiring trends demonstrate, might already be a moot point. Prestige, professionalization, and credentialing within academic librarianship have been debated since the inception of the profession; the interaction of these with gender ideologies and a predominantly female workforce has received attention since the 1970s. Librarianship’s constant state of crisis and search for external markers of prestige can only exist comfortably outside of historical memory and critical analysis, however. This essay problematizes individual solutions such as credentialing that paper over systemic sociopolitical issues; specific solutions are beyond the scope of this paper, but we do suggest that solutions need to account for broader context, such as current and historical gender ideologies.

Scope of Work, Roles, and Responsibilities for Academic Librarians: Tenure-Track vs. Non-Tenure-Track Professionals
Eric Hartnett, Wendi Arant-Kaspar, Wyoma vanDuinkerken

Abstract:
The purpose of this multi-institutional study is to determine how many academic libraries have chosen to institute a two-track system for their librarians: tenure-track faculty and non-tenure-track faculty. It will approach this inquiry in a two-fold manner, first with a survey questionnaire sent to library deans or directors of research libraries and then with the collection and analysis of formal policy documents from these libraries defining the expectations and work of librarians on the two tracks. This study will highlight how these tracks are distinctive in terms of the scope of work, workload, and other related factors and the implications for the development of the profession. Results of this study will add to recent research and perceptions of librarianship and higher education by providing an understanding of how these factors influence the organizational culture of academic libraries.

Librarians in the Academic Ecosystem
Rachel Applegate

Abstract:
Much of what academic librarians do does not look like what “faculty” do—classic, stereotypical, tenure-track, classroom faculty. Instead, it looks like support work, or administration, or is invisible: all things that are distinctly not valued by classic faculty. Much of the research in library literature, the talk among academic librarians themselves, seems to center on benefits and privileges, and the distinctions are not based on faculty vs. librarian status but on other factors; for example, salaries for librarians, as for economists, English faculty and nursing instructors are mostly set by discipline and market conditions. It will be more productive for librarians to take a political and strategic perspective: with one overarching realization, and one focused goal. The realization is that the “faculty” role is itself diverse: it is not classic nor stereotyped nor even “classroom” in many cases. The variation within the group “faculty” is in many respects more significant than the variation between the groups “faculty” and “librarians.” The focused goal is to seek the status that will place librarians in the decisions of which they should be part.

From Slavery to College Loans
kynita stringer-stanback

Abstract:
My story begins back in 1793 when November Caldwell was “gifted” to Helen Hogg Hooper (whose father-in-law, William Hooper, signed the Declaration of Independence), the wife of the first president of UNC–Chapel Hill, Joseph Caldwell. November Caldwell is my great-great-great-grandfather. Currently, I owe over six figures in student-loan debt to the very institution that enslaved my ancestors. We are at a particular place in the political history of our nation. White supremacy is morally corrupt. It requires that we deny the humanity of human beings for one reason or another. It is hard to stand up against white supremacy because folks who do are often ostracized from their families and communities. We have all been socialized to believe in white supremacy—it was one of our nation’s founding principles. In this essay I hope to break open a dialogue about the white supremacist hegemony institutionalized within our neoliberal university system. Connecting the past atrocities of slavery with actual educational experiences of the descendants of those who served the proslavery institutions has not been widely publicized or talked about. We must interrogate our history or we will be doomed to continue to repeat the horrific inhumane atrocities.

Lessons from the Field: Organizing a Faculty Union in the Era of Janus
Kelly McElroy

Abstract:
On June 27, 2018, the Oregon Employment Relations Board certified United Academics of Oregon State University (UAOSU) as the sole bargaining unit to represent teaching and research faculty of our university. On the same day, the United States Supreme Court released its decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Council 31. In this personal narrative, I will describe our organizing campaign, considering our success in the light of Janus. I conclude with reflections on how what I have learned from organizing continues to shape my work as an academic librarian.

Democratizing the Union at UC Berkeley: Lecturers and Librarians in Solidarity
Margaret Phillips, David Eifler, Tiffany Linton Page

Abstract:
This article explores how librarians and lecturers at the University of California, Berkeley, worked together to make their union more participatory in a context of increasing corporatization in public higher education. Written as a case study, we examine this ongoing revitalization process initiated by lecturers in the summer of 2016 and how it transformed librarian activism and bargaining strategy. For context, we also examine the history and unique nature of the University Council–American Federation of Teachers, the union representing both librarians and lecturers. We discuss why librarians had become ambivalent about their union and how an active group of librarians changed the culture in the organization and worked to bring members’ voices into the 2018/2019 librarian contract negotiations. Engaging membership and encouraging participation required a group of committed organizers, with the support of paid union staff, to actively seek feedback from members, to communicate regularly, and to organize solidarity events. Throughout this process, the local worked to build coalitions with other campus unions, and members became increasingly aware of the important role unions play in protecting and advancing the mission of a public university and as a site for social justice activism.