Workplaces orient themselves around routines, and public libraries are no different. There are routines for processing holds, checking out materials, answering reference inquiries, budgeting, etc. These routines increase efficiency and keep us from needing to reinvent the wheel every day. Yet, those same routines can make things especially difficult for library staff based on who they are. When your mental health, disability, skin color, sexuality, or any other component of your identity fails to align with who the routine expects you to be, you can face significant consequences. As the routine is repeated, those consequences are standardized and normalized, and it’s leading many to leave the profession.
The Public Library Routines Project (PLRP) aims to uncover problematic routines in public libraries and learn their impacts, what staff do to work around them, and how successful those workarounds are. Through a series of workshops, library staff and management will consider the implications of these findings for public library work. The PLRP seeks to sustain this work through a series of professional development courses.
We invite public library staff from across the country to participate in the research of routine work. If you work in a public library in any capacity, and you are from a group that is underrepresented in the profession [e.g., staff of color, LGBTQIA+ staff, staff with disabilities, staff with chronic conditions, and staff with mental health challenges], we want to hear from you. Here are the ways you can participate»