Stressors and librarians: How mindfulness can help

Richard Moniz, Jo Henry, Joe Eshleman, Lisa Moniz, Howard Slutzky
2016 College & research libraries news  
M indfulness has many definitions, depending on context, but most of these focus on maintaining awareness in the present moment and treating ourselves and others with patience and kindness. Librarians seem to be naturally acquisitive and persistent (especially when seeking information) and demonstrate a desire to help others. In fact, one recent review of the literature exploring why individuals pursue an MLIS determined, "The most influential factors were love of books and reading, nature of
more » ... brary work, interesting job, and desire to help people [emphasis added]." 1 It was this emphasis on helping others that influenced us to write The Mindful Librarian: Connecting the Practice of Mindfulness to Librarianship. 2 Throughout the text we drew upon what we felt were numerous natural connections between the practice of mindfulness and the everyday work of librarians. As our book was being published in January 2016, we grew increasingly curious about how aware librarians were about mindful practice and what were the greatest stressors within the profession. Most of what we had done to this point had been gathering research about mindfulness and targeting prescriptive applications to various facets of library work (i.e., the organization of our text centers around the various roles that librarians play in providing reference, teaching, leading, etc.). We now felt that we needed to know more about how our colleagues perceived mindfulness and stress, something that was beyond the scope of our original text. As such, we launched a survey to determine how many librarians in general had been exposed to the concept of mindfulness or had participated in mindful practice, whether various libraries were engaging in specific practices related to mindfulness (relative to both patrons and staff), and, since many proponents of mindfulness emphasize its ability to help manage stress, what were some of the major stressors affecting librarians in 2016. Our brief survey, which investigated librarian awareness of mindful practice but especially targeted library stressors, was circulated among a wide variety of library listservs. The survey was not limited to academic librarians, as one item we wanted to explore was possible differences that academic librarians might experience as stressors in comparison to other librarians. In total, 629 librarians completed at least part of the survey. Of those who specified the type of library, 38% (218) came from small academic libraries, 28% (163) came from large academic libraries, 17% (98) came from public libraries, and 17% (99) came
doi:10.5860/crln.77.11.9582 fatcat:v6coxci7ubdvtok2qqbuttygna