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"The Modern Day Sisyphus: #libtech Burnout and You": Becky Yoose

Abstract & slides

twelve phases of burnout

  • compulsion to prove oneself, working harder, neglecting own needs, displacing conflicts, revising values, denial of emerging problem, withdrawal, behavioral changes, depersonalization, inner emptiness, depression, burnout syndrome
  • not sequential
  • burnout symptoms are closely related to depression

what's special about #libtech burnout

  • tech + library share cultural traits that are markers for higher burnout rates
    • "bootstrap mentality" <-> "doing more with less"
    • unrecognized emotional labor

how to prevent/recover

  • time away from work
  • work/life balance
  • work prioritization

...but this isn't about what the victim should do

"burnout is a social contagion"


  • collaborate, don't compete
  • crosstrain
  • document
  • build escape routes -- don't give people all-or-nothing choices
  • be present for your colleagues


  • give staff clear and explicit agency
  • give them what they need, then get out of their way
  • make it comfortable for them to say no
  • make it comfortable for them to share emotions w/o fearing looking weak or incompetent
  • recognize the role of emotional labor
  • stop building "unicorn positions" that require unreasonable combinations of skills / unreasonable levels of work
  • say no: make your own superiors recognize your team's resource limits and prioritize


  • stop making people run gauntlets
  • "the abuse you went through does not entitle you to force others through similar abuses"
  • stop admiring / being inspired by people working themselves to breakdown

community privilege

  • the list of things the individual victim should do assumes the victim has the vacation time to take time off, the agency to take time off, the benefits to get mental health care, the freedom to quit or change jobs
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