A bit on Library Work and Self-Care

Recently I was lucky enough to be able to take a one week course on Supervisory Skills. It was the equivalent of a full semester course, and was intense, and wonderful. There was lots of time for reflection due to the immersion

I’ll unpack the ideas and concepts more here over time, but what I’ve been thinking a lot about recently is self-care and emotional labour.

This isn’t a new topic in the library world, and there are lots of more thoughtful people than myself writing about these topics (resources below), but here are my two cents.

Many introverts work in libraries. A lot of public library work is public service. Working with the public is exhausting, especially for people that don’t gain energy from being around people.

A key part of all libraries is finding information for others. Whether it be books, research, or resources, it is about serving the community. As is programming, like storytimes and computer classes, arranging for guest speakers (so many phone calls). This sort of service can be draining. We don’t always think about the energy this takes since we don’t always get a concrete result of our work. But is is work, and it can be very hard.

All this means that you have to make time for yourself. Especially casual library workers. Take the time to do activities that recharge you, read a book on a topic you love, listen to music, go for a walk, work at your hobby.

Find community. We are all a sort of informal community, people in similar workplaces, doing similar work, but it is good to touch base directly sometimes as well. I take time to have lunch with co-workers sometimes, and have arranged a monthly evening get-together with local library staff. I find that talking with others about our common interests and concerns really helps me cope with stress and distress.
Some recommended reads

Emotional Labour and Mental Health in the Library

A Librarian’s Approach to Self-Care | Hack Library School

The Compassionate Librarian | Self-Care

#self care on Librarian Burnout

 

Places to look for people to talk to