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Library workers, as with other professions, are quick to diagnose ourselves and others with imposter syndrome when we doubt or devalue our everyday work. However, methods of coping with imposter syndrome have changed little in the forty years since the term was first theorized, and often centre on feel-good fixes which do not address power imbalances between the sufferer and their workplace environment. Here, I examine the origins of imposter syndrome, and identify factors often misinterpreted as imposter syndrome but which are instead the product of oppressions such as precarious labour, racism, and sexism. By unpacking how oppression and gaslighting shapes a workplace environment, we can then alleviate individuals with imposter syndrome of sole responsibility for their own healing, and hold institutions and managers accountable for the conditions they help to perpetuate.


Originally published by In The Library With The Lead Pipe, June 10, 2020.