Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to explore the lived experiences of Australian public library staff during the COVID-19 library closures. The study examines the effect of mandated physical library closures on staff wellbeing, along with the challenges they faced as library operations moved to a remotely delivered model. The paper includes an examination of staff perceptions of their library’s value in the lives of their users.
Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with 15 Australian library staff from three library networks. A process of inductive coding resulted in a thematic description of the participants’ experiences of continuing to work during a period of where their libraries were closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Australian public library workers experienced many challenges that affected their wellbeing during the period of library closures. These included challenges relating to moving library programming to a virtual delivery model, managing significant change in their work lives, managing the emotions of self and others, and concern for the wellbeing of library users. Positive outcomes relating to skill development and innovative thinking were also reported.
The operational responses to the COVID-19 library closures in Australia and elsewhere have been well reported. This paper takes a different approach by examining the emotional and wellbeing outcomes for public library staff during these periods of closure.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLibrary Management
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 19 May 2022

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