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Loving thy Neighbor: Creating Coalitions and Deconstructing Vocational Awe

Fobazi Ettarh

Librarianship is a service profession. It is considered one of the Core Values of Librarianship as well as being in the American Library Association’s Code of Ethics (ALA 2016). The ability to “love thy neighbor as thyself” (King James Bible 1769/2019) therefore, is seen as one of the most, if not the most, important traits a librarian can have. According to Deborah Hicks, the professional identity of a librarian “transcends other non-professional identities, such as one’s gender or race identity...” (2016). Taken to its extreme, this means that the ideal librarian is one whose other identities are subsumed by the “noble calling” of library work to the exclusion, and even detriment, of anything else. This, along with the problematic rhetoric of “do what you love” (Tokumitsu 2015), enables the exploitation of librarians as workers by eliminating the distinction between personal and professional identities. When there is immense resistance to merely acknowledging flaws in our professional values and practice, how can we work towards meaningful change?

In this workshop, we will learn about vocational awe, how it impacts the work-life balance of library workers, and how to deconstruct it so that we can all truly learn how to love ourselves as much as our neighbor.

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