Contributions to Low Morale, Part 1: Review of Existing Literature on Librarian and Library Staff Morale

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Purpose: Significant research has been done on morale within libraries, focusing on librarians as teachers, administrators, staff, and faculty members. This review is the first in a series of two with the intention to provide perspective on contributors to low morale in librarians and library staff. The second part of this review will be forthcoming and will discuss ways to improve morale in these populations. Methods: Searches were conducted between Spring 2020 and 2021 across six databases (Medline via PubMed, Library and Information Science Collection via ProQuest, Sociological Abstracts via ProQuest, PsycInfo via EBSCO, Library Literature and Information Science Full Text via EBSCO, and ERIC via EBSCO). A hand search was added in Spring 2021 in the interest of completeness. Broad and narrow searches were performed utilizing keywords and controlled vocabulary terms related to morale and librarians or library staff. Results were reviewed by authors in three stages according to inclusion and exclusion criteria outlined in the article. Results: The initial search resulted in 735 articles for review. After completion of a three-stage review process and initial hand search, 52 articles remained. The search update and hand search update resulted in 13 additional articles for a total of 65 articles for inclusion in the initial review. These articles were then split into two main groups: articles that address contributors to low morale and those that provide suggestions for improving morale. This article will address 40/65 articles retrieved that discuss contributors to low moral within libraries. Remaining articles and articles that discuss both contributors to low morale and ways in which to improve morale will be discussed in the second half of this review series. Conclusion: There is currently a large body of research on morale related to librarians and library staff; however, it is worth reexamining morale as this profession and the world around it continues to change. Researchers confirmed that libraries have unique cultures based upon their region, overarching institution, type of library, customer or patron base, and other factors. As such, supervisors and managerial staff indicate the importance of examining the culture of one’s own library including the motivations of staff/faculty and barriers that they encounter.