Fostering a culture of wellness and support for library workers through trainings centered on self-care techniques and understanding secondary trauma.Close up of holding hands


Rekindling from Burnout is a series of trainings for staff about secondary trauma, mindfulness and self-care. The term “trauma stewardship” was coined by social worker Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, whose book Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide for Caring for Self While Caring for Others was originally written for other social workers, paramedics, police officers, and others who work on a daily basis with clients and other people who have suffered (and/or are still suffering) from some kind of trauma (physiological, neurological, emotional, etc.). Library workers are also service providers, regularly connecting patrons in need to resources. Public libraries are the most inclusive and barrier-free community spaces, providing wonderful opportunities, and some significant challenges. Secondary trauma can affect staff, preventing us from imparting quality service with empathy and utmost care, contributing to absenteeism, and turnover. This initiative seeks to provide us with the resources we need to flourish: an in-depth understanding of secondary trauma, mindfulness, and self-care tools that create space for conversations about wellness. The recent Healthy Communities Conference reframes our intentions around health and wellness as a library system. Rekindling from Burnout aligns with this broader initiative by focusing on staff resilience through concrete practices. Our initiative will kick off with comprehensive trainings about secondary trauma and self-care by Vibrant Emotional Health, an organization that is committed to building a society where emotional wellness can be a reality for everyone. Following Vibrant’s trainings will be a series of 12-16 mindfulness/self-care workshops taught by various wellness facilitators, all framed in the context of trauma exposure response. We are offering a toolbox of practical exercises that promote wellbeing at work. We will explore contemplative practices from a variety of traditions that can enhance our professional and personal experiences. In addition to these workshops, we will host four book discussions for Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide for Caring for Self While Caring for Others by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky. The series will culminate in a conference that includes a keynote, break out sessions, and a panel. We will invite staff from the Tri-Li system to join us. We have a multi-branch partnership that includes staff from 8 branches spread across 4 of the 6 new regions of the Library. A multi-branch partnership ensures that the team will share insights with their colleagues and promote this initiative. We want to shift the culture of wellness at the Library, to build solidarity. A supportive community surrounding trauma exposure response and mindfulness will buoy this shift. Trainings will be open to all staff, giving priority to our partner branches. Post conference, we will come together to brainstorm next steps, serve as community liaisons in this work, and make resources/materials available for access online by staff. As Laura van Dernoot Lipsky says, “By developing the deep sense of awareness needed to care for ourselves while caring for others and the world around us, we can greatly enhance our potential to work for change, ethically and with integrity, for generations to come.”

Desired Outcomes

Awareness of trauma exposure response and self-care tools has increased (pre/post surveys)
Staff feel more connected/supported (pre/post surveys)
Staff attend the trainings (number of participants reached)

This proposal was prepared for Canarsie and Red Hook Libraries.


Average: 5 (1 vote)
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