The Culture of Care in Librarianship is a poster in the 2020 PNLA Virtual Poster Session. We encourage you to engage in discussion by leaving a comment on the page. The author of the poster will respond to comments the week of August 4-7, 2020.
Presenter: Donna Langille & Sajni Lacey
Track: Academic Library
Abstract: Librarianship continues to be a highly feminized field where workers, especially marginalized folx, are often expected to provide an unhealthy and unsafe amount of emotional labour for their patrons and colleagues. Extended emotional labour can lead to emotional exhaustion and burnout and is deeply connected to the vocational awe associated with librarianship and library work (Lowe & Reno, 2018; Ettarh, 2018).
Despite these risks, the COVID-19 crisis highlights the importance of empathy, a kind of emotional labour, in building relationships with patrons and providing support that meets their needs (Bruce, 2020). As we move our traditionally physical services to online (e.g. helpdesk support, reference consultations, instruction), we must not only engage in the labour of providing these new virtual services, but we should also extend empathy and consider the individual experience of patrons’ within the context of COVID-19. In addition, what role does empathy play when we are creating spaces in this online context that reflect an inclusive practice? Questions to consider with our patrons: Are they an essential worker? Are they taking care of a sick family member? Do they have children? All of which will undoubtedly affect the interactions that we have with them and the ways in which we do our work. This consideration must extend to our colleagues as well.
How can we extend empathy towards not only our patrons but also our colleagues and ourselves in ways that will resist burnout? Our poster will highlight actions librarians can take to practice empathy and adopt an ethics of care in their work while acknowledging some of the barriers that prevent a culture of care in librarianship.
Bruce, S. (2020). Teaching with care: A relational approach to individual research consultations. In the Library with the Lead Pipe. http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2020/teaching-with-care/
Ettarh, F. (2018). Vocational awe and librarianship: The lies we tell ourselves. In the Library with the Lead Pipe. http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2018/vocational-awe/
Lowe, M., & Reno, L. M. (2018). Examining the Emotional Dimensions of Academic Librarianship: Emerging Research and Opportunities. IGI Global. http://doi:10.4018/978-1-5225-3761-8
- For accessibility purposes, here’s the text to our poster as a Google document.
About the Presenters:
Donna Langille (she/her) is Community Engagement Librarian at the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus. She lives and works as an uninvited guest on the unceded, ancestral, and traditional territory of the Syilx Okanagan Nation. Her professional interests include open education, public/digital scholarship, and knowledge exchange. Contact Donna at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sajni Lacey (she/her/hers) is a biracial, cis-gendered, able bodied, settler woman. Sajni has spent her entire professional career in academic libraries. She would also like to acknowledge that I live and work as an uninvited settler on the unceded territory of the Sylix Peoples. Contact Sajni at email@example.com