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Women’s work and the library: ideological shaping of a feminized profession

Faculty Advisor




Canadian universities, academic librarian, regularized responsibilities, librarians' work experiences, work value, women's work, gendered exploitation, capitalist mode of production, devaluation, librarians' labour

Abstract (summary)

Overwhelmingly, librarians working at Canadian universities are considered academic staff, if not faculty. However, the role and fit of the academic librarian within the academic enterprise is overshadowed and frequently misunderstood. As alt-academics, librarians' expertise and contribution to the university's academic mission is often sidelined: the nature of the work too frequently viewed through an organizational rather than an academic lens and characterized as preoccupied with a structured set of regularized responsibilities. Drawing on the findings of my doctoral research, an institutional ethnography of librarians' work experiences as academic staff, this article argues that social relations such as those that construct work value are historically rotted and ideologically determined. I propose that our speech, text, and talk, indeed our social consciousness, is permeated by two ideological codes—women's work and the library—that structure librarians' labour in a particular way. Ultimately, I link the devaluation of librarians' work to the necessary gendered exploitation of labour that happens within a capitalist mode of production.

Publication Information

Revitt., E. (2020). Women’s work and the library: Ideological shaping of a feminized profession. Journal of Contemporary Issues in Education, 15(1), 22-34.


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Attribution (CC BY)