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Prof. Megan Lowe explains her recent publication focusing on the emotional dimensions of librarianship

Librarians: Humans or Robots?

By Abdoul Amadou on Dec 6, 2018
Lowe image While libraries are often seen as a central source for information resources, many do not realize the challenges librarians face in overseeing day-to-day operations. Indeed, librarians have been experiencing a host of issues from budget-cuts to concerns of job stability and keeping up with technological advancements which is causing a great deal of emotional duress. Prof. Megan Lowe, from the University of Louisiana- Monroe, and co-author of the publication, Examining the Emotional Dimensions of Academic Librarianship: Emerging Research and Opportunities spoke about what motivated her to pursue research in this field as well as her future research endeavors, in an IGI Global interview.

What inspired you to pursue research activities in your research area?

My personal experiences as a practicing professional motivated me to become a researcher. As I encounter phenomena, for better or for worse, I want to understand them. I want to understand how they affect other professionals in my field and how those professionals have responded. Where it is clear that there are gaps in the literature, I have attempted to fill those gaps. I want to promote awareness of problems and help identify strategies and solutions for those problems.

Why are your respective areas of research important to the field at large?

I would say my areas of research are important to the field at large because they pertain to issues like job satisfaction and other psychological aspects of employment. While other professions have examined topics like burnout, turnover, and other employment phenomena, librarianship does not seem to have tackled these issues in a meaningful way. This is troubling, as the field is changing rapidly in response to both technological and social elements. In a field where we seem to frequently be constrained by a lack of resources, practitioners are expected to do more with less, with little consideration of how our growing workloads in the face of dwindling resources affect us.

In your opinion, what are some of the benefits of your research to its community of users?

One of the main benefits is gaining insight and awareness of how we function as professionals in a rapidly changing and profoundly diverse profession. How academic librarians function is actually quite different from how law librarians or public librarians function. The problems and solutions of one dimension of librarianship are not necessarily those of other dimensions. However, they can inform one another. Another benefit is understanding the dangers of not maintaining work-life balance and the importance of seeking such balance.

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What are the future directions of your research areas?

At this stage, I am pursuing research in toxic library work environments, issues of collegiality in academic librarianship, crises and disaster recovery in libraries, open educational resources (OERs), and support resources for library administrators. I thought I was ready to move on from deselection (which has formed the foundation of most of my recent research), but there still seems to be a need for it, so I will continue to pursue that as well.

What are some other evolving research trends you have observed in your industry/field over the past several months and what would you say are some of the innovative research directions you foresee in the future? How do you feel your publication sets the pace for these innovations?

There is growing interest in the ways that academic libraries can support non-traditional students, especially student-parents. While libraries have traditionally been focused on providing access to resources, it seems that our focus is shifting to focus on support services, namely services that are not necessarily library or research-oriented, but which represent what might be called social infrastructure, like providing collaborative workspaces or lactation rooms.

There also seems to be an increase in interest in how academic libraries can support members of the community (beyond the campus community) with resources and services. Academic libraries are traditionally research-oriented, but as most of them are associated with public institutions, they are considered community institutions as well. In the face of decreasing resources for their campus communities, how can academic libraries extend their resources and services to reach the non-campus community meaningfully without underserving the campus community?

My research does not necessarily set the stage or the pace for these innovations. I think these are important topics, and I’m glad to see them gaining ground. It is possible that the research I conduct on crises and disaster recovery in libraries will involve community involvement and partnerships, but this research is in its early stages.

What has your experience been like publishing with IGI Global?

Overall, my experience has been positive. The staff are very supportive and flexible, and the editing system certainly facilitates efficiency. The process has not been nearly as terrifying or stressful as I was certain it would be. It has been very exciting to be a part of what IGI Global is doing!
We would like to thank Prof. Lowe for sharing the current outlook of the library and knowledge management industry. We hope the discussion will promote further conversations on the topic. Be sure to check out the publication, Examining the Emotional Dimensions of Academic Librarianship: Emerging Research and Opportunities and recommend to your librarian.
Prof. Lowe's research is available through IGI Global’s world-renowned InfoSci®-Books, a collection of 4,500+ e-books with over 93,000 chapters and over one million reference citations. Offered as low as US$ 8,580 US$ 6,864*, this database hosts key features such as full-text PDF and HTML format, no DRM, unlimited simultaneous users, and no embargo of content (research available months in advance of the print release). This comprehensive collection spans 11 core subject areas, including business and management, computer science, education, engineering, social sciences and humanities, and more. Purchase or recommend this database to your institution’s librarian.
Be sure to check out Prof. Lowe's research, as well as these recommended publications on library and information science, and recommend them to your library.


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of IGI Global.
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