Please Scream Inside Your Heart:

How a Global Pandemic Affected Burnout in an Academic Library


  • Carmen Mitchell California State University San Marcos
  • Lauren Magnuson California State University San Marcos
  • Holly Hampton Amazon, Inc.


burnout, COVID-19, overwork, capitalism, white supremacy culture, vocational awe, role overload


The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the authors’ experiences of the academic library workplace. Despite additional challenges introduced by working primarily remotely, the authors also witnessed their organization take steps toward making academic library work more human-centered. Using narrative inquiry, the authors interrogate their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic and elements of workplace organization and treatment of library workers that offered brief glimpses of a workplace that is kinder and more concerned with employee well-being. However, over time, a renewed emphasis on pre-pandemic organization workplace values has been witnessed by the authors. The authors discuss what pre-COVID workplace practices are harmful and oppressive elements of white supremacy culture and capitalistic culture and should be abandoned, and what a human-centered workplace post-COVID might look like. Keywords: burnout, COVID-19, overwork, library workers, capitalism, white supremacy culture, vocational awe, role conflict

Author Biographies

Carmen Mitchell, California State University San Marcos

Carmen Mitchell is the Scholarly Communication Librarian at Cal State San Marcos doing work in the areas of open access, data management, electronic theses and dissertations, copyright, and digital repositories. Prior to CSUSM, she worked in digital libraries at Loyola Marymount University and Harvard University. She has a MLIS from Simmons College and a BA in English from UMass Boston. Outside of librarianship, Carmen likes riding her bike, craft beer, and hanging out with her husband and two dogs. 

Lauren Magnuson, California State University San Marcos

Lauren Magnuson has been the Head of Collections, Delivery and Access (CDA) unit since 2017, and works to support the three subunits in CDA, including acquisitions, metadata, and resource sharing. Lauren works collaboratively with staff and librarians to manage CSUSM library’s collections budget, optimize library systems and workflows related to collections, and evaluate usage data and analytics about library collections and related services. Her research interests include support for students with disabilities, textbook affordability and libraries, and the ethical use of data to inform decision-making. Lauren has a bachelor's degree in Philosophy from Tulane University, an M.A. in Information Science, and an M.Ed. in Educational Technology, both from the University of Missouri.   

Holly Hampton, Amazon, Inc.

Holly Hampton is a Knowledge Engineer at Amazon, Inc. as of May 2022. Prior to this role, Holly was the Head of User Services at CSUSM. Holly’s philosophy includes ensuring anyone she leads or manages feels supported, empowered, engaged, and fulfilled. Her research includes examining how this philosophy can be applied and how it changes the experience for library employees and library users. She also explores how academic libraries can evolve and improve to continue to meet the ever-changing needs of its users. Holly has been involved with the DEI efforts within her library and organization and continues to support this work both in and outside of the library profession. 






Research Articles