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Precarity Doesn't Care: Precarious Employment as a Dysfunctional Practice in Libraries

Date created
Author: Brons, Adena
Author: Riley, Chloe
Author: Yin, Crystal
Precarious employment in libraries has significant yet underreported negative effects on library employees and the library field. Employees in precarious positions experience financial, social, and physical vulnerability, while other factors, such as reduced service capacity and worker burnout, affect organizations and communities more broadly. Such effects are often obscured by ideological mechanisms specific to libraries, such as invisibilization of labor and vocational awe. Precarity can, however, be resisted, and this chapter outlines possible means of survival, mitigation, and resistance for people working in libraries. Stably-employed workers and managers can support precariously-employed colleagues and use their power and influence to mitigate the effects of precarity, engage in acts of resistance, and provide worker support through unions and collective bargaining. In addition, the authors propose developing an ethics of care and relationality and using the concept of inclusive equity as ways to change the underlying attitudes and values of libraries that contribute to precarity. Positive material changes become possible when workers' experiences and the negative effects of precarious employment are made fully visible, acknowledged and acted upon.
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