Dissertation Proposal Defense - Christine M. Moeller
“Begging to be heard”: The Profession’s Exclusion and Marginalization of Neurodivergent Librarians
While libraries are increasingly implementing practices and services designed to serve neurodivergent patrons, such efforts have not yet extended to neurodivergent library employees. This research addresses that gap by investigating neuroinclusion in public and academic library workplaces and identifying barriers to and enablers of inclusion and empowerment. To do so, this work seeks to highlight the voices of neurodivergent librarians and their journey of negotiating identity and deploying embodied knowledge to navigate the barriers and enablers they encounter in their workplace and in the library profession. This study aims to determine how libraries can adjust their workplace environment and practices to change professional norms and increase the capacity of libraries to recruit, onboard, retain, and advance neurodivergent librarians.
Historically, research has been conducted on neurodivergent people from a medicalized perspective, focusing on the diagnosis and characteristics of individuals, and often proposing some kind of intervention for the individual person to change them or their behavior in some manner. This study intentionally works in opposition to that perspective, adopting a neurodiversity and critical disability theory approach to conducting research with and by neurodivergent peoplethemselves. Thus, the focus is not on individuals but on the structural changes and adjustments that will improve the lives of neurodivergent librarians, in alignment with their perspectives and the things that are important to them.
This study will expand library literature and neurodiversity employment literature, situated in fields such as psychology, organizational management, and vocational rehabilitation, by drawing attention to the multi-dimensional aspects of neurodivergent people’s identities and by analyzing the impact of professional norms and expectations on the workplace experiences of neurodivergent librarians. Through the development of my approach to ‘centering neurodivergence,’ I will also contribute a new research paradigm for future research on neurodiversity. This proposal will explore the design of this research study and share preliminary findings from a pilot study involving interviews with 40 neurodivergent librarians and supervisors.
Chair: Hala Annabi, Associate Professor, Information School
GSR: Stephanie Kerschbaum, Professor, English, College of Arts & Sciences
Member: Marika Cifor, Assistant Professor, Information School
Member: Helene Williams, Teaching Professor, Information School