Burnout among bibliographic instruction librarians
The literature of library and information science suggests that bibliographic instruction (BI) librarians are at risk for burnout, a syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and loss of a sense of personal accomplishment. To assess the extent and nature of burnout in this group, the author administered the Maslach Burnout Inventory and a Role Questionnaire to BI librarians in comprehensive and liberal arts colleges in New England, using a mailed survey. Analysis of the survey data indicated that BI librarians experience burnout, with 52.8% reporting high burnout in one dimension of the syndrome and 8.5% showing high burnout in all three dimensions. Role conflict contributes to emotional exhaustion and depersonalization dimensions of burnout. Follow-up interviews explored the nature of the role conflict experienced by survey respondents. Christina Maslach, a pioneer in the study of burnout, defines this condition as a syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization (loss of empathy for clients), and reduced personal accomplishment that can occur among individuals who do people work of some kind. A key aspect… is increased feelings of emotional exhaustion; as emotional resources are depleted, workers feel they are no longer able to give of themselves at a psychological level. Another aspect… is the development of depersonalization—i.e., negative and cynical attitudes and feelings about one's clients … A third aspect of the burnout syndrome, reduced personal accomplishment, refers to a tendency to evaluate oneself negatively … (Maslach & Jackson, 1986, p.1).