Fostering Wellness in the Workplace: A Handbook for Libraries

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Whether you're an administrator or library leader concerned about the health and well-being of your team, or a library worker excited to launch a health and wellness movement in your library, you’ll find sensible guidance and inspiration in Newman’s handbook.

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. Newman, who has led a popular course on the subject attended by workers from many types of different libraries, here takes a holistic approach to examine why and how libraries should focus on improving the health and wellness of employees. 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 its 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.

Introduction: Fostering a Health and Wellness Culture at Your Library

Chapter 1    What Is Health and Wellness in the Workplace?
Chapter 2    Physical Space in the Library
Chapter 3    Workplace Practices and Policies
Chapter 4    How Cultural Humility, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Are Essential to Workplace Wellness, by Twanna Hodge
Chapter 5    How Library Administration Can Create a Healthy Work Environment


Bobbi L. Newman

Bobbi L. 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.

"Newman (community engagement; Univ. of Iowa) notes that libraries are dedicated to improving the lives and wellbeing of their patrons but fall short of doing the same for their staff. In this guide, Newman holistically addresses this shortcoming by providing ways to improve the health and wellness of library employees. While concise, this book is rich in ideas ... Recommended as an essential and practical resource for libraries to provide a healthy, sustainable workspace."
— Library Journal

"Fostering wellness can be an effective way to reduce stress and improve the physical, emotional, and overall well-being of information professionals in the workplace ... This book will be of particular interest to libraries committed to fostering wellness in the workplace by improving their aesthetic workplace design and remote work practices. Furthermore, LIS programs could also consider recommending this title as a supplemental reading to students in library management or library building design courses."
— Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

"Overall, the recommendations in this book do not put all the responsibility for workplace wellness on the individual library worker but rather, explores the accountability of the library managers, directors, and the institutions themselves ... The time it takes to read it and the library administration's time and effort to implement the prescribed actions are well worth the investment."
— The International Journal of Information, Diversity & Inclusion