For immediate release | September 7, 2022

Fostering wellness in the library workplace

CHICAGO — As part of their dedication to improving the lives of their patrons, libraries have long offered services, programs, and outreach dedicated to the health and wellness of their communities. There is a growing recognition that library workers themselves are in urgent need of such attention; low morale, and complaints of burnout and a toxic work environment, are only a few of the obvious symptoms. The good news is that by turning inward, libraries can foster wellness in their workplace and make a real difference in the day-to-day lives of their staff. Bobbi L. Newman, who has led a popular course on the subject attended by workers from many types of different libraries, takes a holistic approach in her new book “Fostering Wellness in the Workplace: A Handbook for Libraries,” published by ALA Editions. Filled with hands-on advice, examples of successful initiatives, and suggested action steps, in this book readers will learn:

  • how to define health and wellness, including their physical, psychological, and social aspects, and why they touch upon nearly everything that happens in the workplace;
  • what a workplace looks like when it strives to ensure the complete physical, mental, and social well-being of workers, and the ways in which this approach to a work environment benefits both the library and the community it serves;
  • the role played by the physical aspects of the workplace, such as the ergonomics of sitting and standing desks, the effects of air quality and smell on worker health and productivity, and noise levels stemming from open plan workspaces;
  • about key policies relating to wages, working schedules, where employees work, and child and elder care;
  • real-world advice on addressing complicated workplace issues like emotional and invisible labor, with a look at the part that burdensome or indifferent policies and practices can play in contributing to compassion fatigue and burnout;
  • ways to make healthy choices for oneself and encourage healthy choices in co-workers and staff;
  • concrete, evidence-based steps that libraries can take to improve workplace wellness;
  • how to make a lasting difference by focusing on one aspect they can change personally and one that they can advocate changing library wide.

Newman (she/her) is the Community Engagement and Outreach Specialist at the Network of the National Library of Medicine Region Six office at Hardin Library for the Health Sciences, University of Iowa. She holds a master’s in information resources and library sciences from the University of Arizona and a master’s in political science from Iowa State University. Her research and professional interests include healthy workplaces and digital literacy, along with health references, services, and programming in libraries. She has received awards for her service and teaching, including special recognition in response to the COVID-19 pandemic from the University of Iowa Libraries.

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Related Links

Fostering Wellness in the Workplace: A Handbook for Libraries

"The Public Library Director's HR Toolkit"

Leadership Planners bundle (Vol. 1-4)


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