The Librarian – Counselor Connection

Editor’s note: This guest post has been authored by Jennifer Nardine. Jennifer (she/her) is a teaching and learning liaison, and Coordinator of International Outreach at the University Libraries of Virginia Tech. In addition to her interest in international librarianship, Jennifer is fascinated by the intersection of humans and information, especially as it relates to individual health and well-being.

I recently finished a second Master’s Degree, an MaEd in Counseling from Virginia Tech’s School of Education. Having two Master’s is common in academic library-land, and several of my colleagues have dual Master’s or have earned Doctorates. Shortly after graduating, I was startled when a colleague asked, “how are you going to show that [mental health] counseling is related to your work?” Her implication: even though I’d put in the work to earn the degree, it wouldn’t serve me when it came time to apply for promotion. My response: While I don’t serve as liaison to any of the units in the School of Education which would create a solid link, or to our Psychology or Marriage and Family Therapy programs, it’s obvious to me that education, librarianship, and counseling are related.

Librarianship and teaching are service professions invested in helping our patrons/students to understand what they really need, effectively ask for it and independently search for things and, ultimately, find something of quality. Underneath the more overt activities, we teach critical thinking skills and social issues awareness. Behind-the-scenes workers do this as much as folks on the front line, only their patrons are generally other people within the library or school. We’re all pulling together to provide help to those in need, and to do so in a way that those we interact with generally leave conversations feeling satisfied with the exchange, even if the answer is some form of “no.”

Mental health counseling is also a service profession invested in helping people understand what they need, express themselves clearly to get what they want or to find it themselves, and to develop an understanding of social justice and critical thinking beyond the surface level. While those last two may come as a surprise, consider this: people grow up in a context – family, friends, etc. and develop their understanding of the world from within those parameters. Similar to consulting a librarian, counseling isn’t just for people in distress; it’s a useful tool for anyone processing their lives, their options, and the state of the world around them.

Among other things, counseling students go through semester-long courses on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), how to conduct intake interviews which resemble a reference interview in terms of gathering initial information about client needs, and effectively continuing consultations to help their clients develop the skills to understand and ask for what they need. Counselors find their client’s strengths and highlight them, helping to increase those strengths through strategy and practice. Pretty similar, no?

On the individual development front, counseling students continually reflect on their feelings, learning, and experiences in the form of journaling assignments. They take on challenges that they expect their clients to encounter so they have first-hand experience of those challenges. As a parallel, library students do research projects and practicums which reflect what their patrons will experience. Student counselors do internal development work so they can set aside their own biases to help their clients, and know when they need to confer with a more experienced colleague. Academic librarians are called upon to help with research on many topics, and commit to building collections including multiple perspectives on controversial issues, regardless of their own sentiments.

Beyond those commonalities, there’s been an increased interest in student and, to some extent, employee well-being in the last years, especially during the COVID pandemic. We were encouraged to give ourselves and each other grace, to alleviate stress and get enough rest, to use our sick leave for our mental as well as physical health. Those of us who teach were encouraged to be honest with our students, directly addressing the fact that we were all in the midst of something none of us had ever experienced and that we were all doing our best. More courses for employees on mental health first aid, mindfulness, and self-care appeared in the campus offerings, and the university established links to free online mental health resources for both students and employees. That idea of helping each other to use and find our strengths rolled across our campus. Student mental health continues to be a focus in secondary education, with sessions at conferences like the one at SXSW EDU addressing practical ways to implement solutions. We teacher-librarians were and continue to provide a form of mental health support.

Add in the admittedly hopeful idea that we’re all trying to grow as human beings, and that we want to perform our jobs as ourselves rather than as a persona developed for business purposes. Bringing authenticity forward, not sharing beyond your comfort level but up to that point, naturally creates connection and empathy. Being able to deal with irate or rude patrons/clients, having the inner stability to adapt to change, the mental flexibility to continuously learn and develop, and knowing ourselves well enough to cultivate healthy relationships with colleagues and clients/patrons are all desirable skills in both professions.

Effectively relating with distressed students, from understanding that they are distressed onward, can help us shepherd them to the right help that they need if we can’t personally provide it. Juggling an overabundance of tasks and still helping colleagues when they need it fosters a sense of teamwork. And knowing when we need to stop and rest and renew ourselves, despite that mountain of tasks, is a key skill reiterated again and again in counselor education programs.

So yes, mental health counseling and librarianship are inextricably linked. We use different vocabulary and have different specialties in each discipline. Nonetheless, my counseling background allows me to bring a deeper understanding of human needs and to bring kindness and patience to each interaction, has increased my toolbox of techniques for digging for the real information need under the surface of a question, and has taught me that taking care of myself really does allow me to better serve patrons and collaborate with colleagues.

Office Space

I’m not going to sit here and lie to all you loyal readers and say I haven’t had “Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta” by the Geto Boys playing in my head after I nail yet another info lit session, coming up with the perfect keywords and a search strategy chock full of Boolean operators, fields, and parentheses to do a live demonstration in Scopus, without Scopus freezing or needing to reload the screen once. Nor am I going to lie to you and say I haven’t daydreamed about taking our Kyocera TASKalfa combination photocopier and colour printer out to the fields on campus and hitting it repeatedly with a baseball bat because yet again, my carefully plotted out handouts on APA citations (7th edition) keep having their margins cut off.

But I think of Office Space, the 1999 cult classic by King of the Hill creator Mike Judge, when I think about my new working space; I hesitate to call it an office. I shouldn’t complain; many of you may actually be jealous of my new cubicle—I get lots of natural light as I gaze across twelve feet of unkempt jungle towards the limestone walls of our library’s storage facility, I can keep up with all of the latest library gossip as I can hear every conversation(s) happening in real time, I get lots of exercise by having to move to temporary meeting spaces to take any and all online meetings, and best of all, my coworkers can gaze in the wonder, splendor, and glory of my important library work since my monitors are visible to everyone all the time.

No, loyal readers, I’m not going to lie and say that it hasn’t entailed a shift in my mindset and getting used to how things will be in my new office space for the foreseeable future, as my science library goes through a two-year long renovation. I will say it’s not lost on me that after two (or three, or four?) years, I will be moving back to a shiny, new office space in the redeveloped science library. However, before that day dawns, I’ll be spending my working hours in an open office-style working space, with bookshelves making our cubicles three feet longer.

I joke, but it really isn’t that bad. It’s just a change in working space that will take time to adjust to, and there’s been changes that make working just a tiny bit more challenging. To be completely honest, the biggest change is how it is much more challenging to participate in online meetings and have private or sensitive conversations.

Open Offices and Flexible, Hybrid Work

In Steven J. Bell’s opinion article—which I personally think is indefensible and starts with a false premise: that somehow we must accommodate open offices rather than agree they’re terrible and moving away from them as much as humanly possible—he argues in defense of open offices, asking the reader to accept that open offices aren’t going anywhere. Rather than debate the merits of open offices (which I will note largely comes from administrators), he asks, “we should focus on how to make open office environments productive and satisfying for all library workers.” Um, hard no, Steven.

I will also note Steven comes from a library where flexible work arrangements are available. How about those who have little to no flexibility and work in an open office? He doesn’t address this directly while he spills a lot of ink claiming fewer and fewer library staff are working in-person due to hybrid work. I have to think, maybe library staff won’t want to come to an open office to work; classic chicken-and-egg situation there, Steven. Maybe to Steven, there won’t be library staff anymore, anywhere. I don’t think he actually thinks this, although his article is situated firmly in the context of saving the library’s money (“Building private offices is expensive for new projects, as well as far more expensive to remove for future projects”).

Meredith Farkas wrote an insightful response to Steven, noting his article isn’t supported by the literature (contradicting what he writes), writing “the scholarly consensus on open offices is uniformly negative and the move to open offices comes with many detrimental impacts on employee well-being, organizational health, and work output.” Meredith deftly addresses accessibility issues that are much more challenging in an open office environment, compared to a private office. Contrary to what Steven claims, Meredith makes a strong case that equal working spaces does not make equity for all, even if everyone, including administrators, work in an open office. Working from home or private offices can help alleviate different accommodations.

Online Meetings and Working From Home

As I said, one of the challenges of working in an open office is attending online meetings. It’s more challenging, for sure, compared to a private office. There are bookable spaces close to me that I can take my laptop to attend. I recently was leading an online library workshop. Compared to having my two-monitor setup at my desk, screensharing off a laptop is more difficult, but not impossible. Working from home alleviates some of this, which I do occasionally when I have a glut of online meetings or instruction.

The 2024 ACRL Top Trends speak to the growing trend of hybrid work environments. Like Meredith, the authors cite scholarship that confirms the benefits of remote work: “remote work offers benefits like greater productivity and reduced stress while onsite work fosters better onboarding, engagement, and team building.” However, the authors continue to say that “[t]his new hybrid environment may also require redesigning staff spaces and setting new priorities for onsite work.” When I look at the article they cite for “redesigning staff spaces” (Fayard, Weeks, & Khan, 2021), again the authors clamour for social spaces at work, a place for “unstructured collaboration” and “impromptu conversations.” Not again!

What seems like a cliché and tired stereotype at this point, Steven notes during his library’s redesign, “the designers touted the potential benefits of open office environments, such as increased collaboration, serendipitous idea generation, or simply more opportunities for staff engagement.” I’m still waiting for all this collaboration and idea generation to happen, something that flies in the face of the scholarship that Meredith cites[1]. I’ll have to get back to you when I’m collaborating and generating ideas at a higher level in my open office.


[1] “It is a common misconception that moving to open offices will lead to increased communication and collaboration, based on the assumption that if people are in closer proximity, peers and organizational leaders will be more accessible. Not only has that not been borne out by research, but the exact opposite has been found” (Farkas, 2023).

Discussing the 4 Pillars of Immersion: Leadership

Editor’s note: This guest post has been authored by Jessie Loyer and Veronica Arellano Douglas. Jessie is the Indigenous Engagement Librarian at the University of Alberta. Veronica is the Interim Associate Dean for Research and Student Engagement at the University of Houston. This post is the third in a four-part series, “Discussing the 4 Pillars of Immersion.”

This series was inspired by conversations during a January 2024 Immersion Facilitators retreat that examined our relationship with the foundational pillars of the program. The team explored each pillar by sharing questions and perspectives and considered how to integrate each pillar into the portfolio of Immersion programming. The first post in this series focused on information literacy, the second on the changing roles of librarians in higher education, and in this third installment, Jessie Loyer and Veronica Arellano Douglas will explore the role of leadership in the work of teaching librarians.  

Why leadership? 

Veronica: Those of you who have been to Immersion in previous years may still have a much-loved and dog-eared binder of program materials, notes, and work scribbles. I still have mine from every Immersion I’ve attended since 2008! Yet in preparation for this post, Jessie and I returned to our 2019 Immersion program binders, which we both received as new facilitators and program observers. We wanted to reacquaint ourselves with the Immersion approach to leadership for teaching librarians, which is informed by critical leadership theory and appreciative inquiry. Leadership might at first glance not seem to be central to the work of teaching librarians, however, so much of the work of teaching involves creating and managing positive change; advocating for ourselves, our colleagues, and the communities we serve; and using our influence to center the needs and concerns of learners at our organizations. Whether or not you lead a department, team, or program as a teaching librarian, you are leading instructional efforts at your institution.

Jessie: While we were revisiting Immersion documentation on leadership, we were most drawn to two working assumptions or ideas: 

  1. Leadership is both a social process and social construct that tends to reflect the dominant cultural narratives of an organization
  2. You do not need to be in a leadership role in order to create positive transformation within your context.

The Immersion program welcomes librarians from all roles within their organization, and invites them to a week of generative, focused reflection around teaching. For many of us, budget cuts, deprofessionalization, misinformation and other pressures mean that teaching is frequently scrutinized and asked to be justified; we can feel powerless in the face of these pressures. But I think that the way that we talk about leadership in this program is powerful: what does it look like to create transformation within the context that shapes your work? You don’t have to be the Dean of the library to make transformational change. 

VAD: I think that’s a really important point, Jessie. I know that for a long time I had a really narrow view of “leadership” that was really just me conflating it with management or supervision. I still think that good leadership is essential for successful supervision, but I do think there are opportunities for teaching librarians to learn and grow as leaders at all levels of an organization. I really appreciate the way you characterize leadership as change-making. Teaching librarians see the day-to-day needs, pain-points, and successes of learners and colleagues and are often in the best position to know what needs to change.

JL: Understanding the obstacles and considering what to prioritize makes this work sustainable, especially as big change can seem overwhelming. I also think that connects so neatly to that first assumption: leadership is a process and a construct that reflects the narrative of the organization. When I start a new position, seeing organizational charts tells me so much about what an organization prioritizes, but witnessing how projects are managed gives me an even clearer picture of how staff at all levels are valued. Immersion helps us to see and name those structures of power that shape our work life.

VAD: Yes! A critical approach to leadership, rather than an adoption of corporate leadership frameworks is so needed in academic libraries. If we are turning a critically reflective lens to our teaching we should also critically consider our leadership structures and approach. 

How did you develop your personal leadership approach?

JL: As an Indigenous librarian, I’ve benefitted from my own culture’s beliefs about leadership, and from the fellow Indigenous librarian role-models who shaped and continue to shape my sense of leadership. What is most unique to me about these Indigenous models is a true humility in leadership. My grandfather was Chief of our nation in the late ‘80s and ‘90s, and I remember him sitting at his kitchen table, fielding phone calls and stuffing envelopes: he took his responsibility as the external voice for our people seriously, but he never saw any of the work as beneath him. Similarly, I’m grateful for Indigenous librarians like Sarah Dupont and Kim Lawson, who worked with me when I was a student librarian: they were both committed to their own growth and had a hunger for knowledge in the service of others.

Models of leadership that are compelling to me all share this sense of the ecosystem of the work: we are all making this happen together, and all the work is essential and should be celebrated. 

VAD: As an early-career instruction librarian I never thought I would be in a leadership role or position. It was an assumption that quickly proved false, as I ended up leading projects and coordinating teaching programs, then progressed to supervisory roles (department head, and now interim associate dean). I had a lot of preconceived notions of what leaders looked and sounded like and I was not any of those things. It took a wonderful mentor and friend, Celia Rabinowitz, for me to see that leadership could be feminist, inclusive, and always intellectually curious. She was and continues to be a role model for the kind of leader I would like to become. Turning to feminist leadership theory rooted in Emergent Strategy or Relational-Cultural Theory feels more true to who I am and how I operate in the classroom and in life. I frequently turn to adrienne marie brown’s statement, “small is all” as a reminder that culture and leadership is embedded in all levels of an organization. Being in a supervisory position or a position of authority is not about imposing your rules and will on others. Instead being an effective leader ties back to what Jessie describes as humility and an appreciation for the work of everyone. As a leader, you are responsible both for and to the people you lead, and means listening and addressing their needs and concerns, celebrating their work, as Jessie mentioned, and creating trust and community. The community ethos we try to cultivate in the classroom with learners is something that teaching librarians can bring to all aspects of their work throughout their organization.

Again, why leadership? 

VAD: Although Jessie and I were able to connect leadership with the work of teaching librarianship relatively easily, we wrestled with this idea of why we would be discussing or focusing on leadership in the context of information literacy, which is at the center of Immersion. I think Jessie’s reasoning is the most sound here. 

JL: Information literacy instruction requires clarity. It demands that we help connect students to a network of information, enable access, and ensure that students have the context necessary to understand our collections. These tasks require us to build negotiation skills. 

Good information literacy instruction is also good leadership: collaborative, expansive, and responsive. In the same way that the best boss knows that they don’t have to micromanage their workers because they’ve recruited great workers, a good librarian knows that our students come with a whole life of lived experience that has informed the way they search: we don’t need to micro-manage them; we can offer strategies and tools for this unique context. 

VAD: That valuing of the learner, of all people, is critical to leadership and to understanding and teaching information literacy. I really appreciate the way Jessie centers the lived experiences of learners and the influence it has on their individual approach to information literacy. I agree with those parallels wholeheartedly. A good leader does not try to flatten their team or mold them into a cookie-cutter shape of a model worker. Similarly, information literacy education is informed and shaped by the context in which it exists. The same critical reflection we bring to our teaching and try to impart on learners is essential to leadership. In our next post, Carlos Duarte and Mary Broussard will begin to dig into critical reflection and its centrality in the Immersion Program.

Collaboration Moves at the Speed of Trust

To work in higher ed these days is to grapple with institutional change. There’s no escaping it. Within our organizations, we’re experiencing structural, financial, curricular, pedagogical, or technological change — likely some combination thereof. We are working in a turbulent time. 

This turbulence churns up doubt and creates strong ripple effects: suspicion and fear, not to mention low morale. Yet successfully navigating these waves of institutional change requires confidence in our leadership, in a shared vision, in our ability to collaborate. 

You’ve heard that saying, collaboration moves at the speed of trust? We asked some librarians for their thoughts on the trust problems they’re seeing and how they’re building trust with their colleagues. Given the subject matter, we opted to anonymize this post. 

Have thoughts you’d like to share, too? Drop us a line in the comments. 


Have you seen the trust-in-higher-ed problem playing out in your past/current institutions? How so?

Response: One of my Directors of Libraries did not exactly instill trust among library staff. The Director claimed to be transparent in their decision-making, but library staff questioned their direction, with questionable decisions on budgeting, hiring, and new library services and technology. When asked respectfully, the Director was evasive and somewhat confrontational. This distrust feeds into work culture, creating a culture of fear and suspicion; it’s not a great place to work when that happens.

Response: At my institution, we had a very unfortunate situation play out with a partner that has seemed to pit the university vs. the local community. It was a PR nightmare, to say the least, and although the university is an anchor in this town and area of the country it’s severely wounded the local trust. As an example – social media posts that have nothing to do with said situation get comments about it because folks are so upset.

Response: As the budget situation at my public institution has worsened since the pandemic, we’re seeing very low levels of trust by faculty and staff in the upper administration. Several new administrators have come in over the past few years who have said they value communication, collaboration, and shared governance, though they have embarked on new, costly initiatives without input and now seem surprised at the pushback they’re receiving. While it can absolutely be true that higher educational institutions can be slow to change, especially if feedback is truly sought and accommodated, I think that often the lack of transparency and collaboration ends up dooming new initiatives from the outset, making things harder for faculty, staff, and ultimately for administrators.

What has undermined your trust in your past/current institutions? 

Response: At both my past and current institution, a boys club mentality has undermined my trust in these institutions. When sitting on committees at a campus level, it’s disappointing to spend time and energy in those meetings but feel like the men in the room, and in positions of power, already have an agenda and we are there simply to go through the motions. It feels both difficult to make progress and is frustrating to think that your ideas (and ideas of your colleagues not in this club) are dismissed and not taken seriously. 

Response: One thing that has undermined trust where I’ve worked is fake consultation. This is where library staff have been consulted on decisions, or appear to be part of the decision-making process in some capacity, but when recommendations are proposed, the decision seems to have been made from the start, as they would have been without consultation. When this happens over, and over, and over, trust is undermined.

Response: In my institution, the stark contrast between our leader in libraries and the broader administration (president, provost, etc) undermines the trust in the latter. Our Dean of Libraries is clear, transparent, and refers to a “life-work” balance instead of the other way around. We feel supported by them, and know that they are a staunch advocate for the Libraries in the many broader campus meetings they take part in. 

The president and provost, however, are not as transparent. Once asked (or sometimes forced to an answer by tuition-paying parents) they willingly talk about things like the university budget and the new process about hiring. But they didn’t choose to speak about it on their own. Without explanations, there has been a new admin hired right at the end of spring semester last year (so, once most faculty left) and now there is a new position in the provost’s office, which has also not been elaborated on. That position was posted at around 4:15pm on a Friday. It’s like they either don’t see the optics problem, or they simply don’t care. 

Oh, and did I mention we’re moving to a zero-based budget university-wide with mere weeks to submit, with an administration that prides themselves (overly so) on being data-driven? It doesn’t exactly build any trust whatsoever. 

Response: I’ve also been struck by a boys club mentality in a previous institution, which was coupled with a lack of transparency from the president and head of finance about budgeting. The impression I had was that the president knew best how to allocate funds, and the library was far down the list of priorities for him. It was difficult for us in the library to plan from semester to semester because we could not trust that resources would be available for us to do our jobs, and morale was (not unexpectedly) a challenge.

What has fueled, reinforced, or stabilized your trust in your past/current institutions? 

Response: In the last year, the institution I currently work at has brought in a new president, provost, and CFO. When sitting in the crowd for the president’s remarks upon the announcement of her hire, I felt hopeful about the future of the institution. Both the president and provost have done the work of showing up for events across campus, making time in their schedule to come to the library and listen to our ideas and concerns, and have communicated transparently about their work and external factors impacting our institution. I have seen the impact of this energy, on the dean of our library, the people I supervise, and colleagues outside the library. While our campus and budget problems aren’t completely solved, there’s a new level of trust that has re-energized us and made us feel a little more hopeful. 

Response: Transparency; give me the reasons why a decision is being made. I don’t necessarily have to agree, but at least I can see the reason and I don’t have to guess or speak with colleagues for their opinions, which fuels gossip and can worsen work culture.

Response: I echo transparency. The gossip at my institution is out of control because the higher-ups are making moves without making sure that folks understand where those moves come from. I’m not saying that everything needs to be qualified and explained; I am saying you need to consider how things look to everyone that works under you, and make decisions about how to explain your actions.

What have you done to build trust with colleagues and teams? 

Response: I’ve thought about this a lot. I’m a big fan of confiding in others and being vulnerable. I think this helps build long-term relationships that are built on a solid foundation of trust. Honesty and empathy, which can be common in long-term relationships, are huge components of building trust. 

Response: My past professional experiences have shown me the importance of consistency in building trust. As a department head, I work to consistently show up for my team and for people within the library. In my current context, that plays out with me being on-site, keeping an open door and drop-in policy, and having frequent conversations with the department about workload and capacity. I do my best to communicate what I know, build consensus and make collaborative decisions as much as I can, and celebrate successes. I feel like it’s always a work in progress and maintaining trust is a verb, not something that can be attained and then you can coast. 

Response: The open-door policy I have with members of my department has been crucial for the team to build trust in one another, especially with half of the entire department being new in one year. I know I can go to anyone’s office with a question, even our chair, and either get an answer or have a discussion on where we might find said answer. Us newbies have also been trying to build rapport with other departments in the library, which have historically been a bit siloed. 

Parenting as an Academic Librarian

Being a working parent is challenging; there’s a lot to manage and prioritize. Thinking of both your personal and professional lives — how do you make it work with an extremely busy schedule? I recently read Courtney Stine’s, Sarah Frankel’s, and Anita Hall’s interview “Parenting and the Academic Library” in C&RL News. Hearing about other parents’ experience is great to hear, and these three bring up a lot of salient points: work-life balance, childcare, academic library support for caregivers, and precarity.

I’ve done a fair amount of writing about being a parent, especially during the pandemic. My daughter was born in February 2020, as my son was two and a half years old. In 2022, I wrote about how important it is to feel a part of a community of parents, and connection more broadly:

I find comfort in the fact that I’m not alone in feeling challenged as a father and as a husband. I’ve felt this with other aspects of my life, like job searching or dealing with challenging parents and family. I like knowing there’s others with similar experiences to myself, others that are living parallel lives, with aspects of your lives matched up.

I want to know about other people’s lives and experiences, and get their perspective on similar situations that they’ve found themselves in; to know that it’s not just me, to hear their insight and advice, and to learn and grow.

It’s rooted in this sense of finding common, universal experience that I want to share with others and have others share with me. I learn so much from others and I really appreciate that. There’s solace to be found there, among others who find parenting challenging.

After attending a great writing workshop offered by my institution, “Writing Your Parenting Journey,” I’ve revisited some of my pandemic reflective writing. I’ve thought a lot about what’s required of you to be both a parent and a librarian (or, really any other profession). Working while parenting is challenging!

During a recent CALM 2024 presentation from Courtney Drysdale (“…Supporting Librarian Parents & Caregivers”), she outlined parental supports in academic libraries, specifically aimed at women caregivers. I was struck by how little maternity and paternity leave academic librarians get, especially in the United States. I’m very lucky that in Canada we have substantial maternal and parental leaves.

Through parenting two young kids while working as an academic librarian, here’s what I’ve learned and try to model:

Prioritize

You have limited time as an academic librarian parent. Okay, I’ll admit it, on occasion I work in the evenings. Sometimes it’s something time-sensitive, sometimes I didn’t have enough time at work to finish or work on something. It’s not common, though, and I prioritize my to-do items during the workday so this doesn’t become more common.

You have to prioritize what needs to get done, and what can be left for another day.

Ask For Help

Ask. For. Help. Always! I get help from a lot of different people in my life: my wife, my parents and in-laws, my friends, and of course my coworkers. My colleagues have helped me a lot in a lot of different ways: I’ve asked them for advice, I’ve leaned on them when I’ve been overloaded with work, and I’ve listened to –this can help you in immeasurable ways.

Sometimes just having someone you can talk with, and work something through, is enough.

Learn to Say No

This is something I struggle with and I’m sure it is something you have at times in your life. I’m working on getting better at saying no and figuring out where I want to put my energy.

As Sarah Frankel says, “learning how to say no is hard, but it does get easier. I value my job and the people I work with, but my family has to come first. As my kids get older, I may find myself with more time to do career-related things that I have had to put off since becoming a parent, so that is something to think about for the future.”

You don’t have to do everything or be everything to everyone.

Take Advantage of Flexible/Remote Work (If You Can)

Those of us lucky enough to have some sort of remote work arrangement or having flexible schedules should take full advantage of those perks. Pick up from childcare, early soccer practices and dance lessons, your kid’s doctor’s appointments – it never stops.

For all those administrators, managers, and supervisors who don’t recognize how nice it is for your employees to have flexibility on your schedule – you do now! Flexible and remote work don’t fix everything, but it helps. I’m working on a research project that explores engagement, burnout, and the effect of remote work and flexible scheduling on academic librarians. Stay tuned!

In her closing keynote to CALM 2024, Katherine Goldstein says she “normalizes caregiving through sharing stories.” I think we’ve all got a story to tell. What’s yours?