Author Archives: afscme

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.

Racial Economic Inequality Amid the COVID-19 Crisis

Source: Bradley L. Hardy, Trevon D. Logan, Hamilton Project, Brookings Institution, Essay 2020-17 August 2020

From the introduction:
COVID-19 confronts Americans with two crises: a public health crisis and an economic crisis. The two operate together, since the public health crisis has dramatically reduced economic activity and overall spending. Moreover, this crisis has broader distributional consequences than any economic event in recent memory, altering most aspects of how we live, work, and conduct business—and in truth, who will survive.

Across the economy and society, the distributional consequences of COVID-19 are uneven: the pandemic and its broader economic and health consequences are disproportionately impacting Black Americans.

The outsized challenges that Black Americans are facing are a reflection of the generally diminished economic position and health status that they faced prior to this crisis. Several pre–COVID-19 economic conditions—including lower levels of income and wealth, higher unemployment, and greater levels of food and housing insecurity—leave Black families with fewer buffers to absorb economic shocks and contribute to Black households’ vulnerability to the COVID-19 economic crisis.

The interaction of those pre–COVID-19 economic and health disparities—including a higher rate of preexisting health conditions such as hypertension and lung disease—has contributed to higher COVID-19 mortality rates for Black Americans (e.g. Benitez, Courtemanche, and Yelowitz 2020; Weimers et al. 2020). According to the APM Research Lab, Black Americans continue to experience the highest overall actual COVID-19 mortality rates (80.4 per 100,000)—more than twice the rate of white Americans (35.9 per 100,000) or Asian Americans (33.1 per 100,000), who have the lowest COVID-19 mortality rates. In 2020 more Black Americans will die of COVID-19 than will succumb to diabetes, strokes, accidents, or pneumonia. In fact, COVID-19 is currently the third leading cause of death for Black Americans (APM Research Lab 2020).

Remote Managers Are Having Trust Issues

Source: Sharon K. Parker, Caroline Knight and Anita Keller, Harvard Business Review, July 30, 2020

Covid-19 has thrust many leaders into remote management which requires a different skill set than face-to-face management. They have been forced to make this transition quickly, and for the most part, without training. While some jobs have proven adaptable, many sectors are not well-suited for the remote environment and many workers have home lives that present overwhelming challenges. As a result, some managers may be finding their roles more difficult than before — and making their subordinates’ lives more stressful as they struggle to adapt.

Even prior to the pandemic, managing teleworkers presented unique obstacles. Research shows that managers who cannot “see” their direct reports sometimes struggle to trust that their employees are indeed working. When such doubts creep in, managers can start to develop an unreasonable expectation that those team members be available at all times, ultimately disrupting their work-home balance and causing more job stress.

The COVID-19 public health and economic crises leave vulnerable populations exposed

Source: Jevay Grooms, Alberto Ortega, and Joaquin Alfredo-Angel Rubalcaba, Brookings Institution, August 13, 2020

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has created a new reality worldwide. In the United States it has exposed the fragility of some of the most marginalized groups, particularly the millions of Americans we rely on for some of our most basic necessities. The pandemic has arguably buttressed the racial and ethnic inequities that persist in our society. Black and Hispanic households face additional social and economic disparities which are deeply rooted in structural discrimination and systemic racism—both of which have tremendous implications for health and well-being.

We use a novel panel data set collected between March and July of 2020 to describe disparities in outcomes related to the COVID-19 pandemic across race/ethnicity and employment status. Essential workers are a new class of employee defined as those who work in industries that are considered essential for a society’s survival, including (among others) health care, food service, and public transportation. We find that unemployed and essential workers are the most vulnerable given their lower income, lack of health insurance, and differences across household structure. When evaluated across race/ethnicity, the results suggest that some of these disparities are intensified among Black and Hispanic Americans.

This timely evidence suggests a need for a more robust safety net, such as an expanded unemployment benefits program and more-accessible public health insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as more-deliberate targeting of federal support to Black and Hispanic households.