Library staff are experiencing increased work role complexity as they move from being service providers towards greater instructional roles, providing bibliographic instruction, user education, and information literacy instruction. The purpose of this paper is to explore how library staff relate to their instructional roles and the implications of those self‐understandings for instructional outcomes.
Data collected from qualitative interviews with library staff in Canadian academic and public libraries and diary entries written over a three‐month period were analyzed using NVivo software and an open‐coding, grounded‐theory approach. The study took a phenomenological perspective and was influenced by constructivist sociological role theory.
Data analysis revealed the central place of affect in the experiences of librarians engaged in instructional work, and brought focus to the relational aspects of this work and the affective impact of visibility/invisibility of instructional outcomes. A prominent theme was the expression of “emotional labour”; participants used a variety of methods to manage this occupational stressor as they experienced it within the context of instructional work.
Individuals and organizations will benefit from considering the influence of affect on library staff. Those who educate librarians should seek to improve understanding of affect and its impact on instruction; organizations will benefit from addressing the emotional labour performed as a part of the teaching role.
The study draws attention to the affective experiences of library staff. This is the first research article in the LIS literature to explore emotional labour as it relates to librarians.
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