Diving into Faculty Scholarship: Candice Benjes-Small

Our faculty at William & Mary are making great contributions to academia with their research. In this blog series, we interview faculty with recent publications for insight into their scholarship.

Candice Benjes-Small, head of research at W&M Libraries, discusses her article “'It’s Not Ok. It’s Not Normal': Public Librarians’ Experiences of Sexual Harassment and Their Impact on Psychological Safety” published in Journal of Library Administration.

In 2-3 sentences, describe your scholarship to someone unfamiliar with the field.
Candice and co-presenter pose in front of a poster detailing their researchWhile the average person may think of libraries as quiet, idyllic workplaces, the #MeToo movement prompted many librarians to self-disclose accounts of sexual harassment while on the job. For this study, we surveyed people who had recently worked in public libraries to measure the prevalence of sexual harassment within the field. Nearly 90% of respondents stated they had experienced inappropriate behaviors from coworkers, patrons, and/or board of trustees.

What was the most interesting part of this project for you?
In this study, we included an optional comment box for any respondents who wished to share more information than was gathered in the quantitative section. While not a required element of the survey, a quarter of respondents chose to write something in the box. Some were words of gratitude that we were amplifying this very real problem in librarianship, but many were personal narratives. The result, as one of our authors said, was “twenty-plus pages of tragedy.” It is a heartbreaking read.

How did W&M Libraries help support your scholarship?
My portion of the article was written during the summer and fall semester writing groups that grew out of the W&M Libraries’ Writers’ Retreats. I’m also thankful to W&M Libraries for providing the funding to make this article open access.

What next?
My co-authors and I were invited to present at the United Nations’ Women’s Forum in Quito, Ecuador in December, and will be presenting our study at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference this summer.