Shifting Roles

Discursively constructing the identities of library and museum educators during the pandemic


  • Jacqueline Kociubuk University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Amy Mueller University of Oklahoma
  • Peter Wardrip University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Rebekah Willett University of Wisconsin-Madison



professional identity, discourse analysis, COVID-19


This paper examines the shifting roles of youth service librarians and museum educators during the COVID-19 pandemic. While changes in job duties, processes and day-to-day practices were inevitable, the article argues that practitioners viewed their service as continuous with pre-pandemic roles. Based on interviews with 20 practitioners, the article analyzes two constructs that emerged as professionals described their pandemic roles: guiding principles and collaboration. Not only did these discursive constructs provide a sense of continuity, they also served to advocate for the role of libraries and museums. These findings indicate the importance of reflecting and drawing on guiding principles and collaborations to make decisions about services during times of crisis. 

Author Biographies

Jacqueline Kociubuk, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Jacqueline “Jacquie” Kociubuk, MLIS/MEd, is a PhD student in the Information School at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research focuses on understanding the role of the public library as an informal learning and community space for children and families.

Amy Mueller, University of Oklahoma

Amy Mueller is an Assistant Professor in Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum at the University of Oklahoma. Amy is a former elementary educator as she taught 4K and later served as a K-5 technology teacher. Amy’s research is focused on the equitable use of educational technologies, family and school relationships, and the integration of informal learning environments within formal school environments at the elementary level. Her dissertation is based around the transition to online learning due to the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on elementary educators and families.

Peter Wardrip, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Peter Wardrip is an Assistant Professor of STEAM Education in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the United States. His research focuses on the design of STEAM learning experiences, assessment for learning and building research-practice partnerships.

Rebekah Willett, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr Rebekah Willett is a Professor in the Information School at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the United States. She has conducted research on children’s media cultures, focusing on issues of play, literacy, identity, and learning. Her publications include work on makerspaces, playground games, amateur camcorder cultures, families’ screen media practices, and children’s story writing. She has published in journals in the fields of education, childhood studies, media studies, and library and information science. In addition, she has co-authored and/or edited five books and contributed to numerous edited books and encyclopedia projects.






Juried Papers