Sunday, July 17, 2022

Urban Library Trauma Study

 A two year long study  difficult working conditions urban library workers experienced pre-pandemic and the increasing demands and disruptions because of the pandemic, resulting in extensive trauma, stress, and burnout for urban library workers. The study included four stages including a comprehensive review of current literature on the topic, a survey of urban library workers, a series of virtual focus groups, and a forum of urban library workers to go over the research and create plans for the future. Trauma  largely started externally but impacted library interaction.  The report also noted secondary trauma experiences and how regular interaction with patrons who are struggling with homelessness, poverty, mental illness, or addiction has a profound affect on library workers who are often not trained or have the resources or support for this work. The report encourages more recognition of how secondary stress leads to burnout and recommends that libraries look to the fields of social work and medicine for concrete solutions to support library workers. The report made the following recommendations:

  1. A National Library Worker Help Line where library workers can call for immediate support during mental health crises and burnout.
  2. A set of standards for healthy library work environments built by a coalition of worker-led library organizations. 
  3. A collection of policies and procedures written from the perspective of trauma-informed leadership. 
  4.  A series of peer-led support groups made up of library workers which allow workers at all levels to offer and receive support from colleagues at other institutions who can empathize and understand the unique challenges associated with library work.
Urban Librarians Unite. (2022). 2022 Urban library trauma study. Author.

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