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The Mindful Library

January 3, 2020

At the start of a new year, the subject of mindfulness often appears in media and conversation. Practices like meditation, yoga or journaling are suggested as New Year’s resolutions or intentions. This extends to our profession in our individual work and in a broad sense, as we plan programming and “de-stress” activities.

Being mindful (ha! sorry) of these types of conversations, it seemed like a good time to learn more about mindfulness and libraries. So, I borrowed (E-ZBorrow-ed, thanks PALCI!) Recipes for Mindfulness in Your Library. This book is edited by Madeleine Charney, Jenny Colvin, and Richard Moniz. (Charney was part of a 2017 Connect and Communicate webinar).

Image: Pixabay

The first two sections of the book highlight efforts at public and academic libraries, including collaborations with other departments or organizations.

The more familiar topics of coloring books, yoga and therapy animals are included, along with approaches that incorporate virtual reality, light therapy, and dedicated spaces. One standout example was the Brain Booth at Humboldt featured in Chapter 6. If you, like me, find value in learning from other libraries’ planning and programs, these will be interesting chapters.

Sharing ideas about mindfulness programs for patrons is something I’m comfortable with, but my own practices are spotty at best. Usually, the day’s events take priority over a few minutes of reflection on an instruction session or project. So, I was not sure what to expect as I started reading the third section, Personal Practice. I learned that mindfulness can entail dedicating a few minutes to quick note-taking after a class, rather than a chunk of time set aside for Journaling with a capital J. Reflecting on the mood of the class, anything unexpected that happened, apprehensions and ideas, etc. is valuable in the moment as a way to help refocus, and move on to what’s next on the day’s schedule. This reflection can also help improve our instruction, and how we engage with students in the future.

I considered skipping Chapter 11, “Mindfully Managing Library Teams” because that is not my role. I’m glad I didn’t! Especially if you are part of a small team, this chapter is a good introduction to mindfulness among groups, awareness of colleagues’ strengths and weaknesses, and reasons to celebrate failures as well as successes.

In my next blog post later this month, I’ll share more about this book, including observations about the fourth section, Teaching/Research.

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