Research Agenda: Research Ideas and Recommendations

Research Agenda: Research Ideas and Recommendations

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3761-8.ch007


We have attempted throughout this book to highlight the importance of understanding emotional labor, emotional exhaustion, and burnout. We have attempted to underline the fact that these topics have direct bearing on academic librarianship, given the very nature of the profession. We have discovered that there is a dearth of literature on this topic within the profession, which seems ill-advised, given the significant individual and organizational impacts that emotion can have. However, it is not enough to promote awareness and highlight gaps; we recognize that we have an obligation to address these gaps. To that end, this chapter presents a kind of research agenda, proposing research ideas and approaches to that research intended to fill in the gaps and elucidate phenomena. Without a clearer picture of these issues, it will be much more difficult to identify and develop meaningful, effective solutions that adequately address the experiences and practices of academic librarianship. The chapter highlights specific areas of academic librarianship, profession-specific stressors, and related concepts.
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Specific Areas Of Academic Librarianship

More granularity is needed in the research generally speaking, but one gaping hole that exists in the literature is emotions research in specific areas of academic librarianship, with the exception of bibliographic instruction. More research should be done in the emotions of BOH librarians and FOH librarians who are not primarily instruction librarians. Research should also be done to look more closely at certain components of burnout and emotional exhaustion to determine what exactly among academic librarians leads to these problems. It might also be illuminating to understand the ways in which these two groups can support one another more effectively.

Technical Services Librarians Who Also Work in Public Services

Do technical services tasks have a mediating effect on introversion-induced emotional exhaustion? It has become necessary in recent years for more and more librarians to have duties across multiple areas of the library. It would be useful to examine levels of stress and emotional exhaustion in librarians whose main job focus is technical services but who also have duties in public service. According to Milford and Wisotzke (2011), as mentioned in Chapter 5, librarians have a high incidence of introversion. This could be part of the cause of emotional exhaustion and burnout in academic librarians. Does technical services work, with its isolation and repetitive tasks, have a mitigating effect on emotional exhaustion in introverts who work in public service?

This study could be accomplished through a nationwide (or even global) survey, asking librarians who work in all areas of the library to estimate the percentage that they spend interacting with the public and also rate their level of emotional exhaustion. The survey should also ask questions to gauge each respondent’s level of introversion. It should include questions about the emotional states (e.g., anxiety, distress, boredom, excitement) of respondents as they work in each area and as they leave one area to work in the other. By comparing current levels of emotional exhaustion and percentage of time spent in front-facing on non-front-facing areas with emotional states at various points, one should be able to determine whether technical services work has a moderating effect, an exacerbating effect, or no effect on emotional exhaustion. This study could be useful in helping develop coping strategies for introverted librarians who are emotionally exhausted. Some librarians may need more time in the “back of the house” than others. Conversely, there may be extroverted librarians who are suffering from the isolation of technical services. Supervisors should be cognizant of this and adjust public service hours accordingly. Supervisors could also use this information to reconsider roles and tasks that they assign to these individuals. This could help prevent emotional exhaustion and burnout among librarians.

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