By: Conrrado Saldivar, Adult Services Specialist at the Natrona County Library and MLIS Student at the University of Washington
For many library workers in smaller communities, helping someone download an eBook while waiting in line at the grocery is normal. I’ve even served drinks to a former board member at a second job while talking to the table about how adding video games to the collection aligns with our mission statement. Our work weaves its way into our normal, day-to-day activities and keeps us awake at night whether we want it to or not. Taking time for a little self-care is absolutely necessary for the library profession.
I’ve found a mental and physical escape from both work and unintentional work stressors by making use of the open space available anywhere in Wyoming. Hiking the Bridle Trail to see Garden Creek Falls at the base of Casper Mountain or walking along the Platte River allows me to clear my mind while taking in fresh air and vitamin D. When I need a little more intensive self-care, I take to Wyoming’s open roads to explore new areas and hiking trails.
Particularly negative interactions I’ve experienced range from harassment to subtle and overt racism at the reference desk. These require extra self-care treatment fueled by a little competitiveness and adrenaline. I’ve found softball to be the most beneficial way to forget it all by focusing on a single, team-oriented goal for an hour. Between two recreational teams and various local and state-wide tournaments, I play over 50 games with family and friends in the short season available to us in Wyoming. Win or lose, I feel relaxed and recharged for another day.
Reading is an essential method of self-care for when I’m feeling absolutely stressed, but when family, friends, and school join the mix, it isn’t always possible. I recently started the online MLIS program at the University of Washington. Between work, homework, and reading about topics that directly apply to work, the last thing I want to do is open a book knowing I won’t be able to give it the time it deserves because I’m tired of looking at words all day. My reading self-care has converted into taking in one short story at a time: I still find something to take away without feeling guilty about not finishing an entire book. Eventually, after using all of my renewals, I make it through the entire book of short stories.
Whether it’s walking, hiking, exploring, playing softball, or reading just enough to fulfill the typical librarian stereotype, we all need a little self-care time. Not everyone is able to enjoy the wilderness in their backyard, but whatever it is, find something that works for you, something that recharges you for another day of serving our communities.