The pandemic is exacerbating attrition among library workers
By Lara Ewen | June 1, 2022
*Editor’s note: All librarian names have been changed to protect their privacy.
Alex* can pinpoint the day she knew she was done with library work. “I was doing a lot of extra emotional support for people who didn’t have anybody else,” says the public librarian, who is disabled and has been working near a large Midwestern city for almost 20 years.
She says the last two years have been particularly difficult. “There was a day when I realized nothing was ever enough,” says Alex, who is in the process of leaving the field. “They always asked for more. I was so worn down by it all.”
The burnout began earlier for Chris. “Even before the pandemic started, I’d been feeling increasingly ambivalent,” says the Midwest-based academic librarian who left her associate director position in fall 2021.
“Then we had the pandemic, which required libraries to make a ton of changes. I wanted to work with my community, and I didn’t have any energy for that.”