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Empathetic Librarian

Title: The Empathetic Librarian: Rural Librarians as a Source of Support for Rural Cyberbullied Young Adults.
Name(s): Phillips, Abigail Leigh, author
Mardis, Marcia A., professor directing dissertation
Dennen, Vanessa P., university representative
Gross, Melissa, committee member
Latham, Don, committee member
Florida State University, degree granting institution
College of Communication and Information, degree granting college
School of Information, degree granting department
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2016
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource (173 pages)
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: Cyberbullying is a problem that many young adults ages 12 to 18 have experienced on a daily basis. Adult support is critical in both the prevention and intervention of cyberbullying. Although parents, teachers, and school administrators have been highlighted as sources of support for cyberbullied young adults, librarians have not been studied as a source of support although school and public librarians engage with teens on a daily basis. Through empathetic services, i.e., activities carried out in everyday in which librarians provide empathy, librarians can support young adults who are experiencing and/or witnessing cyberbullying. Empathy in the library has been infrequently researched within LIS, often under different labels such as pastoral care and customer service. The purpose of this research was to investigate how rural school and public librarians can be a source of support for rural cyberbullied young adults. The study was guided by three research questions in which I explored the types of support rural young adults desired and received from rural librarians as well as the types of support rural librarians perceived they offered. I also contextualized the results with relational communication theory to investigate an additional dimension for understanding empathetic services in the present and possible future research. In this project, I used two qualitative methods: semi-structured interviews and structured video autoethnography. The 14 participants in this project included three school librarians, four public librarians, and seven young adults. The participants were all residents of rural Southwest Georgia. In this project, I focused on rural young adults and rural librarians within this region. In addition to the participants, I also acted as a participant and maintained a personal written autoethnography to reflect on my research process. In my analysis, I found that while young adults often saw librarians as sources for information, mentorship, and everyday help, they also saw potential for librarians to engage in advocacy and empathy in the library for teens. In many interviews and video entries, the librarians frequently highlighted their important role in information provision and instruction for young adult. While a few librarians acknowledged that they provided social, emotional, psychological, and empathetic support for their young patrons, librarian participants typically diminished the importance of this role in their work. However, librarians revealed a desire to not only increase their improve their role as a provider of information and instruction but also to increase the social, emotional, psychological, and empathetic support they provided in their libraries. Since this is an exploratory project, I proposed that future research is needed into relational communication theory as a framework for empathetic services. I also suggested that empathy in the library is a little researched area in LIS and often overlooked by librarians in the field. Additional research is needed in the important role of empathetic services in librarianship. This research fills a gap in the literature about rural librarians as a source of support for rural cyberbullied young adults and introduces the term "empathetic services".
Identifier: FSU_2016SP_Phillips_fsu_0071E_13024 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation submitted to the School of Information in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Degree Awarded: Spring Semester 2016.
Date of Defense: February 8, 2016.
Keywords: cyberbullying, empathy, librarians, libraries, rural, young adults
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Marcia A. Mardis, Professor Directing Dissertation; Vanessa Dennen, University Representative; Melissa Gross, Committee Member; Don Latham, Committee Member.
Subject(s): Information science
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU

Choose the citation style.
Phillips, A. L. (2016). The Empathetic Librarian: Rural Librarians as a Source of Support for Rural Cyberbullied Young Adults. Retrieved from