Working at Library and Your Health

By Elena Bubelich, Head Editor, INALJ Quebec 

Working at Library and Your Health

ElenaBubelichI’d like to talk about a subject that nobody discusses before and during our education at MLIS program: our health. We listen to attentively to everything about potential salary, benefits, and career progress, but nobody talks with us about the potential impact to our health of working at library. This doesn’t mean that our professors avoid talking about it, but generally they don’t know how to talk about it. Or, they think that it concerns only medical specialists and their patients. And this approach is common, I think. We don’t think about it when we go to the job interview. Does anybody ask if that job may affect his or her health? We always try to avoid thinking about illnesses. And it’s absolutely normal.

Meanwhile, if you do some research (even in Google) about occupational health diseases of library staff, you may find interesting results: librarians have troubles with their backs, articulations, lungs, etc. We work with people who have a cough, blow their nose, who are untidy. We work in closed depositories with dusty books and archival papers. We sit all day in front of a computer.

I started to think more about my health during my internship at a cataloging department. It was sedentary work, 8 hours every day from 9 to 5, from Monday to Friday, all day in front of computer, in a cubicle, without sunlight. The work wasn’t difficult but when I came home I was exhausted. Now I’m working at a college library and I cannot say that this work is healthier than my previous internship because I meet every day hundreds of students and the air in the library is stale.

Can we match anything against adverse effects of our work? My answer is “Yes”. We can’t eliminate all these effects but we can help our body to resist efficiently even without expensive medicament, medical advice and gym membership. I follow some common well-known (even banal!) recommendations and I want to share them with you. It’s a miracle but they work out!

First of all, move! 30 minutes’ activity every day is much better than 2 hours in gym once a week. The easiest way to move is to walk. You need no facilities, no membership. It’s much less expensive; there are no medical contraindications.

Secondly, buy pedometer and measure how many steps you do every day. 10,000 steps a day is an ideal result, and minimum is 6,000 steps. 6,000 steps means walking for 20-30 minutes before and after work, and 20-30 minutes of walking during lunchtime.

Last but not least, eat healthy foods: less fast food and sweets, and more vegetables, fruits and home-made food. Try to eat in the same time each day and not to gorge yourself in the evening.

Try to think about the impact of your work to your health ahead the time.

Preventive measures are better than medication. I hope this article will help you to see our profession in proper realistic perspective, not only by angle of salary and career. Please, share your experience and opinion about how to keep fit working at library.

  1 comment for “Working at Library and Your Health

  1. Clare
    November 7, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    I am currently unemployed, but while getting my MLS did a job 15 hours a week that involved intensive computer work, and I developed wrist problems and eventually tailbone pain. Sitting can be brutal, and I decided after that that a library job that involved sitting all day was not for me (I was originally interested in technical services and cataloging). I do Zumba and love it. Community colleges may offer a cheaper way to take a class than a private club or gym. I’m taking a Zumba class through the community college that is three days a week, for 14 weeks, that was $95. I decided the cost was worth it for me; it’s helped a lot while job searching, because after a frustrating day I go to class feeling a little depressed, but come out refreshed and feeling positive. So the mental health benefits are just as good as the physical. I walk too.

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