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Vocational Awe and Librarianship: Loving Yourself is Not a Crime

How far would you go for your job? Would you bleed for it? Would you go to jail for it? Would you die for it? Would you kill for it? During the midst of a global pandemic, librarians are being asked to put their health, and potentially their lives, on the line in service to the public- both literal public, as in its patrons and the larger community, but also the idea of the public--the public good. And, according to vocational awe, the ideal librarian should die for it, happily, and without complaint. So, what is vocational awe? Well, in short, it’s the idea that your work is good and sacred, and therefore is more important than any one person. Mission above all. When your work is holding up democracy and democratic values, it’s a lot harder to advocate for “simple” things such as equitable pay, reasonable work-life balance.

This webinar was presented live on Feb 10, 2021 by Fobazi Ettarh.

Vocational Awe and Librarianship: The Lies We Tell Ourselves

"Vocational awe describes the set of ideas, values, and assumptions librarians have about themselves and the profession that result in notions that libraries as institutions are inherently good, sacred notions, and therefore beyond critique. I argue that the concept of vocational awe directly correlates to problems within librarianship like burnout and low salary. This article aims to describe the phenomenon and its effects on library philosophies and practices so that they may be recognized and deconstructed."

Check out this article from Fobazi Ettarh, originally posted at In the Library with the Lead Pipe.

Resisting "Vocational Awe" During the Pandemic

Take a look at this article from Suzanne LaPierre, originally posted at Public Libraries Online.

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