Moving on from an academic library job

tangognat writes "This article in the Chronicle's Careers section details the journey of an academic librarian away from a toxic work environment. Emily Edmonson is the pseudonym of an academic librarian at a public university in the South. She has been chronicling her search for a new position this academic year."


Anyone know who this author is? There's enough clues in the columns, of course presuming that they're entirely truthful (I doubt, for example, that the oft mentioned "South" claim is real, but rather part of the smokescreen) that someone's gotta know.Does the Chronicle often publish a string of anonymously written articles? Most newspapers have policies against that sort of thing. Using anonymous sources can be problematic after all.

Many of the first person columns in the careers section of the Chronicle are published with anonymous sources. It seems to be a pretty standard practice for them when they are publishing articles about someone's job search.

Or parts of it a least. I've worked in several "toxic" environments. I was also vocal about the problems my workplaces had, and it also got me into trouble. What amazed me was the unwillingness of the administrations to SOLVE the various problems their libraries had, even when presented with viable solutions. Offering to help, regarless of how diplomatically I tried, got me labeled a troublemaker. What are your choices, except to quit and move on?

Unfortunately the administrators or "bosses" are often responsible for creating or maintaining the toxic environment...because they have the mistaken idea that they only way they can get power and keep it is to take everyone else's away, and of course abusing you every way they can to break you, so you don't even imagine challenging them anymore is what they enjoy the most.The toxic environment feeds them and keeps them strong, anything that threatens their "food" gets destroyed unless it escapes.

This is an excellent article; thanks for the link. It is also true of many working environments--especially that part about becoming invested in the petty squabbles. I've used my library degree in private, state and university jobs, and these problems exist everywhere, but sometimes it is best to just move on if the administration is so toxic you can't do a good job.

But what if you can't seem to find a non-toxic place to work, as is what happened to me? Staff members grabbed and shoved each other at the circulation desk, the director posts the contents of staff disciplinary hearings to the bulletin board in the staff lounge, and a reference associate keeps her boyfriend behind the circulation desk with her. The last straw was an assistant director's postion I interviewed for several years ago... The director told me that several staff members didn't like a woman that worked in Tech Services, who also happened to be alergic to cats. So they got a stray cat and locked it in her office overnight so she wouldn't be able to breathe in her office the next morning (I later asked to be removed from consideration for that job). That's the kind of crap I dealt with, everywhere I went.

The Chronicle publishes these items anonymously for a reason--basically so other academics can learn from their experiences and the authors do not receive any retribution in their job search.

I will neither confirm or deny that I know the author, but can confirm that she DID work for a public univerity in the South.

The "oft-cited" Southern location of these entries in NOT a smokescreen, and is, unfortunately, not fictitious.

Even though I am a native southerner, I have been appalled at the ghastly authoritarian "plantation style" management that exists in many medium sized and smaller universities/colleges.

If you see lots of job ads from these schools, you can figure out the deal pretty quickly. Lots of turnover. May the job seeker beware.

I don't think I'd apply for any openings in that system! That's beyond toxic. That's working in a junior hi locker room.

... is unbelievable. I've been yelled at by subordinates, a shelver sassed off to me because another supervisor told her she could, and I couldn't eat in the staff lounge at one place because I was being somewhat harrassed by some of the women who would eat there as well. They would sit around and talk about their childbirthing experiences (there was a pregnant woman on the staff at the time) and they would give me a rough time because I have no children. "Oh, are we SCARING you??", they'd mock me. I wasn't even paying any attention to them, I was just reading and minding my own business. So I had to find another place to eat. I've worked in several public library situations, and they've ALL been madhouses. All of them. I do contract work now. I get paid more, have better hours, and it is easier to stay out of the internal politics of the given organization.

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