Labor in academic libraries has reemerged as an area of critical interest in both academic library and archives communities. Librarians and archivists have long worked to counter the diminishment of their labor within an academy that centers the concerns of disciplinary faculty who may, in turn, see knowledge workers as a footnote to the scholarly enterprise. Recent years have seen a renewed attention to the social and economic conditions of our work, as researchers turned to topics such as affective labor in libraries and archives, attitudes toward labor unions, and information work under capitalism (Sloniowski 2016; Mills and McCullough 2018; Burns 2018). As the landscape of higher education changes dramatically after decades of reduced public investment, rising tuition, and an explosion of student loan debt, colleges and universities have sought to streamline, downgrade, and outsource labor. Workers have in turn fought back by organizing, withholding their labor, and articulating new visions of the academy and the academic workplace.
This is the author's accepted manuscript of an article originally published in Library Trends, available at DOI: 10.1353/lib.2019.0032.