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Constructing Authority in Professional Practice: Personal Reflections

Emotion in the Library Workplace

ISBN: 978-1-78743-084-6, eISBN: 978-1-78743-083-9

ISSN: 0732-0671

Publication date: 8 August 2017


Academic library literature is noted for studying and analyzing the role of librarians’ informational services to users. Librarians typically recommend sources that are appropriate for locating topical or scholarly information, help develop contextual and conceptually appropriate search terms, and analyze user behavior and needs in order to customize services and collections, particularly in an online environment. Librarians increasingly assist users in making qualitative decisions about their topics and research strategies, and provide guidance on what kind of information and what avenues of research are appropriate, how to evaluate sources, and how to use them. A scan through library literature also reveals an ongoing concern that librarians sometimes suffer from an impostor syndrome, with articles devoted to the qualification needs of academic librarians (Clark, Vardeman, & Barba, 2014; Marcum, 2012). This chapter explores how librarians at a comprehensive academic institution feel about their disciplinary and functional knowledge and professional competence and authority in providing qualitative and contextual research advice. The underlying basis for this inquiry is the assumption that we are informed by the notion that research is a process of inquiry and scholarship is a conversation in which librarians play an important role. The study is based on a small number of hour-long interviews conducted in 2014–2015 with librarians working in several academic disciplinary areas, particularly professional education, social sciences, the arts, and the sciences. Although the population used was small and confined to one large academic institution, the interviews revealed librarians’ own understanding of the place of their expertise and authority within the disciplinary research process that may resonate on a broad professional level.



Wallach, R. (2017), "Constructing Authority in Professional Practice: Personal Reflections", Emotion in the Library Workplace (Advances in Library Administration and Organization, Vol. 37), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 57-70.



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