a state of mental or emotional strain exerted
through demanding or difficult circumstances. A
condition or feeling experienced when a person
perceives that demands exceed the personal and
social resources the individual is able to mobilize.
Stress can result from any situation or experience
that makes an individual feel frustrated, angry,
nervous or anxious, and can cause severe health
problems. The word Stressor refers to anything that
provokes a stress response.
a prolonged response to chronic stressors. A
disabling reaction to an overload of stress. In
professional fields and athletics it is referred to as a
“passion deficit”. Having no “passion” for a job
often overflows into every aspect of one’s life and
may contribute to a lack of energy, or loss of
interest. Symptoms fluctuate between
absenteeism; nausea, weight gain, and insomnia;
or emotional health issues involving detachment,
feelings of isolation, and lack of concentration.
Challenges and demands
In the public sector, libraries have become community-building
forces of civic engagement, economic development,
neighborhood revitalization, and workforce progress. In
academia, the additions of coffee shops and collaboration spaces
have contributed to the shaping of a campus social-building
dynamism, and global information resource.
Hazards and representation
The explosive growth of technology and social media have
dramatically expanded the responsibilities and perceived role of
the New Librarian. This institutionally innovation-driven new
identity is expected to be an international force for change
through multiple levels of expertise, global knowledge sharing,
and voracious social enterprise.
Significant issue #1
• too much work and too little time to accomplish the demand
• increased professional collaboration (including global)
• lack of on-the-job support systems
• insufficient help
• technology problems and rapid technological growth
• a lack of closure on ongoing projects
Significant issue #2
• a lack of influence on-the-job
• budget cuts
• service reductions
• obnoxious or rude patrons
• deficient work environments
• poor management and supervision
• oppressive political climates
Significant issue #3
• low salaries
• limited opportunities for advancement
• increased competition for jobs
• repeatedly defending one’s occupational status
Significant issue #4
• a blurred idea of occupational and societal roles
• too many tasks that cross departmental lines
• a poor public representation
• an increased ethical dimension
• a “New Breed” 21st century stereotype
Significant issue #5
• increased job discrimination
• unrealistic organizational and public expectations
• shifted workforce and workload priorities
• required to prove one’s professional value on paper
Pressures and problems
• Medically and
patrons and co-workers
• Homeless or mentally ill
populations using the
library as a shelter
• Negative or ineffective
• Poor building design or
• Aged or substandard work
More pressures and problems
• Inadequate knowledge or
skills to perform
• Significantly increased
workloads and deadlines
• Fewer staff and more
• Increasingly disgruntled or
• Continuous interruptions
• Monotonous and routine
• Carpel tunnel syndrome,
neck and back injuries, and
The burnout factor
Occupational burnout involves a prolonged exposure to
workplace stressors that often drain an employee’s vitality and
enthusiasm, and lead to less engagement and productivity.
Results of burnout include
• an increase in turnover rates and absenteeism
• decreased professional performance
• workplace accidents
• poor customer service
• the possibility of serious personal health problems
A passion deficit
The repression of natural reactions and emotions contributes to
organizational and emotional exhaustion, and is often
contagious. This type of labor includes
• appearing authentic when professional norms suggest
expressing positive emotions and suppressing the negative
• mental weariness, cynicism or depersonalization, and
depression brought about by faking or pretending a specific
display of emotion
• hiding symptoms of increased stress until it affects the
Emotion regulation (management)
refers to the conscious or non-conscious control of
emotion, mood, or affect. It is the process of
modifying one's emotions to fit a social or
organizational structure by either changing the way
one feels about a situation, or modifying one’s
behavior by suppressing, faking or amplifying a
response. The emotional gap between exhibiting
true emotions and artificial responses creates
sometimes referred to as “emotion work or
management”. It explains workplace emotional
events and roles that require emotions to be
consistent with organizational goals. It is the
awareness of the emotional expressions required
on-the-job, such as showing a genuine concern for
the needs of others and making positive contacts.
When considered essential to worker performance,
these constitute emotional labor. Library workers
are likely to regulate their emotions according to
includes negative feelings that develop when an
individual views his or her emotions in conflict with
his or her identity. It involves a struggle between
experienced emotions and expressed emotions.
Emotional dissonance often results in job
dissatisfaction, and reduced organizational
It begins in school
• Instructors in schools of Library and Information Science
generally do not address the essential component of person-
to-person interaction skills when training students.
• Students are not prepared for the realities of dealing with the
• Students are not equipped to demonstrate emotion skills
necessary in the field.
• Students are not armed with the skills to combat negative
• Emotional intelligence abilities are not taught in the
A challenged profession
• Specific organizational emotional requirements are prevalent
within the field.
• Administrators are concerned with the effect emotion
management has on service quality.
• Professional norms suggest that librarians should express
positive emotions and suppress the negative.
• Librarians strive to produce a positive emotional state within
the library by masking their own feelings.
• Librarians are expected to perform emotional labor but are
not formally trained to do so.
Difficult situations and emotional conflict within the library
setting, as well as organizationally imposed ideals for expressing
emotions, frequently account for
• job discontentment
• on-the-job stress
• physical injuries and mental anxieties
• occupational burnout
• organizational and emotional exhaustion
are rules for expressing one’s emotions that an
institution or organization requires for on-the-job
interactions. It involves a group’s norms, which
define how and in what manner emotions are
is a social awareness and relationship management
skill. It includes the ability to understand moods,
behaviors, and motives. Possessing these skills
improves the quality of relationship-building by
understanding the way people feel. It is as
important to professional success as technical
abilities, and contributes to lower staff turnover.
Positive strategies can be taught and include self-
awareness, self-management, social awareness,
and relationship management.
Traditional and current solutions
• Coping Strategies
• Pro-active Solutions
• Managerial Contributions
• Organizational Strategies
Solutions in brief
• Self-examination attempts to address the direct cause of a
problem by defining what the librarian personally did to
promote it, or can do to change it.
• Coping Strategies ignore a patron’s or co-worker’s emotional
state and focuses on the problem only.
• Resisting involves walking away from a patron or co-worker in
an unresolvable interaction.
• Pro-active Solutions establish on-the-job personal and
• Managerial Contributions and Organizational Strategies
attempt to reduce stressors and emotional labor in the
workplace through education and action.
Discussion of possible solutions
Self-examination and Resisting
These techniques may not be
effective because each suggest
a “What if . . .” aftermath to
any workplace stressor. For
this reason, applying these
individually or organizationally
may add to personal and
organizational stress levels.
These strategies have the
potential for being very
effective in confrontational
situations between librarian
Continued discussion of possible solutions
These solutions establish on-
the-job support, such as
flexible work schedules or
transferring within an
organization, and offer the
greatest potential for
within the workplace and
Managerial and Organizational
These strategies could produce
a workplace environment to
combat organizational stress,
and the effects of negative
emotional labor. Via effective
leadership, these can be
seamlessly promoted in Library
Science curriculum, seminars
offered at library association
conferences, and through
public sector management.
#1: Begin in the classroom
Emotional intelligence abilities need to be taught, and should
encompass the idea of “service,” by teaching students how to
• communicate across geographic, cultural, societal and
• develop rapport, acquire relationship-building skills, and
• reflect a caring and responsive attitude
When teaching courses that focus on organizational dynamics–
such as administration and management—content should
• defining and explaining emotional labor and the performance
of emotion work
• allowing students to discover their own communication style
to understand how they will respond to emotional labor
• teaching necessary skills that lead to emotional intelligence
• targeting the warning signs of burnout, and the positive
techniques for mastering it
#2: Benefits for on-the-job
Successful managers should provide support to staff for dealing
with problems associated with occupational stress, including
• employee orientation and learning programs
• involving employees in decision-making
• providing employees an opportunity to vent
• keeping the workplace fun
• enhancing available personal resources
• Define organizational goals and plans on paper.
• Encourage open communication.
• Prioritize opportunities for professional education, staff
training, and in-house innovation.
• Create collaboration and cross-departmental team efforts.
• Provide break rooms for time-off to release tension.
• Rearrange the workday to keep unnecessary duties at a
• Limit time working at labor intensive tasks.
• Encourage taking vacation days, sick leave, and breaks.
#3: Combating burn-out
Dealing with the long-term demands and consequences of
emotional labor should include introducing specific strategies,
• teaching display rules
• teaching emotional intelligence
• offering staff assistance programs
• practicing buffering
• Like an emergency response checklist that is easily practiced
at staff meetings, display rules are organizational rules for
responding to any patron or issue.
• Teaching skills in emotional intelligence helps reduce the
likelihood of chronic emotional conflict that leads to
• Stress management and emotional health services should be
made available to employees.
• Front-end personnel—as trained strategists—can help diffuse
potential “situations” by directing problems to skilled workers.
• Public engagement involves both technical knowledge, as well
as emotion skills.
• Personal competence includes an ability to stay aware of
one’s own emotions, and managing one’s own behavior and
• Specific occupational stressors can be reduced or eliminated.
• Training programs can be developed that assist librarians and
library science students in handling negative emotional labor.
• Dealing proactively with staff morale reduces staff turnover.
• Proactive solutions reverse the symptoms of a passion deficit.
• Stress reduction strategies result in an acceleration of
performance and efficacy in the workplace.
• Library policies are needed that reflect an understanding of
• Professional development should reflect an understanding of
emotional labor, skilled relationship-building techniques, and
an acquired emotional intelligence.
American Institute for Preventive Medicine. (2001). Burnout self-
inventory: Systematic stress management: The proven way to
relax. Retrieved from
Mind Tools: Essential Skills for an Excellent Career. (2014). Stress
management techniques by category. Retrieved from
HelpGuide.org. (2014). Preventing burnout: Signs, symptoms,
causes, and coping strategies. Retrieved from
Infopeople Webinar: U.S. Institute of Museum and Library
Services. (2011). Preventing staff burnout. [PowerPoint slides].
TalentSmart: World’s #1 Provider of Emotional Intelligence.
(2014). Newsletter articles. Retrieved from
Christian, Linda A. (2015). A passion deficit: Occupational
burnout and the new librarian: A recommendation
report. The Southeastern Librarian, 62, 4, 2-11. Retrieved
The Settlement Library Project