A Poetic Inquiry into Emotional Labour of Public Library Work
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This study explores the nature of emotional labour in public library work through poetic inquiry. Building off past qualitative and quantitative studies, this project adds nuance to the body of research on emotional labour in library work. Participants participated in a 90-minute poetry workshop, facilitated by the researcher and inspired by Freirean pedagogical principles, where they wrote poems about how it feels to work in a public library. They wrote based on prompts about surface acting, deep acting, and the physical sensations associated with libraries. These poems served as data for thematic analysis. The primary four themes to emerge were “libraryness,” surface acting, identity, and empathy. This study found that emotional labour manifests uniquely in public library work, where workers are typically deeply passionate about literacy and social infrastructure.