“All I did was get this golden ticket”: Negative Emotions, Cruel Optimisms, and the Library Job Search
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Drawing from survey results and interviews with recent job seekers, this article investigates the effect behind defeatist attitudes, anxieties, resiliency narratives, and intimacies that are central to librarian successes and failures. Connecting these narratives with Lauren Berlant’s cruel optimism, we explore the dangerous attachment LIS job seekers have with the field. While library schools and library associations promise a good life with financial stability and the possibility of upward mobility, it is often out of reach for nearly a third of LIS graduates. To explore job seekers’ emotional experiences during the LIS job search, the authors looked specifically at the first job search from the perspective of graduate students as well as from those already in positions. Our survey yielded over 900 participants and we conducted 18 in-depth interviews. The results provide both confirmation for themes already discussed in librarianship, as well as new insights for work to be done to support new colleagues entering the field.
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