Carnegie Mellon University
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Oh Dear, We’re Queer: Work/Life Balance & Library School during Covid-19

conference contribution
posted on 2022-01-24, 15:07 authored by Dom JebbiaDom Jebbia, Hannah GundermanHannah Gunderman

The professional value of, and actual need for, library school is widely debated. Many institutions choose to forego ALA-accredited degrees in favor of candidates with subject area PhDs or industry experience. Despite this, many early- and mid-career library workers (staff, faculty, etc.) pursue additional education while maintaining full time jobs in order to advance their careers or pivot to new industries. As libraries struggle to adapt their services to the new and ongoing constraints of the COVID-19 crisis, restructurings, retirements, layoffs, and numerous other factors strain library employees and remove support networks from the workplace. This creates barriers to maintaining work/life balance, which in turn limits the ability of library workers to pursue education and professional development. Library workers from marginalized groups face additional barriers in the workplace and often lack resources to surmount said barriers. Queer library workers exist within an intersectional space that further limits their ability to organize and access the comparable resources of their cisgender, heterosexual peers.

This shoptalk discusses the experiences of two queer library employees, one staff member and one non-MLIS librarian, as they adapted their lifestyles and workflows to the realities of the immediate shift to work from home while pursuing advanced degrees in library science. It discusses how their work/life balance and academic studies were impacted by three systemic barriers that they confronted in their lives and workplace. The talk will consider the solutions and workarounds developed to address those barriers, and propose three alternative actions to address inequities for future workers.

This presentation was delivered virtually at the American Library Association LibLearnX 2022 conference