by Rachael Altman, Head Editor, INALJ Alabama
Work/life balance, stress reduction, learning, and having fun
I participated in the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS) E-Forum: Work/Life Balance on March 13-14. The discussion was hosted by Leslie Burke, Collection Development and Digital Integration Librarian at Kalamazoo College, and Robert Roose, Support Services Manger at Spokane Public Library. The discussion was insightful and allowed participants to see that we are all in this together. Participants shared programs, solutions, stories, and strategies used to achieve some sense of work/life balance. My favorite stories dealt with personal strategies for achieving balance and dealing with stress.
The top strategies for achieving work/life balance and stress reduction included:
- Setting boundaries, such as not working from home
- Spending time with friends and family
- Exercise, such as walking or yoga
- Hobbies, such as gardening or cooking
- Unplugging/turning off the technology
- Entertainment, such a reading or movies
I am still learning how to have work/life balance. I tend to feel like I am always plugged into some device, I am always connected, and I am always on. I am very curious and eager to learn, which makes it difficult for me to just relax sometimes. I am in the process of developing a good balance. Keeping with my curiosity and eagerness to learn, I have been compiling a list of cool library programs used to help people relax, learn, and have fun.
- Cornell University Library lobby lawn: Mann Library partnered with the College of Human Ecology to put real grass in the library in order to provide help and support for students and faculty during a very stressful time.
- Therapy Dogs: A number of academic and public libraries are bringing therapy dogs into the library (yikes, dogs in a library!) in order to improve literacy skills, provide stress relief during finals, and educate people on owning an animal.
- LibraryFarm at Northern Onondaga Public Library: Community members can checkout a plot of land, gardening tools, seeds, and books about gardening. The library provides guidance and training on gardening.
- Fab Lab at Fayetteville Free Library: Learning how to make “things” is awesome!
- Cooking Classes, Nutrition Education, and Exercise: These programs are pretty common in public libraries, but I would like to see these programs in academic libraries. It would be a great way for the library to collaborate with different departments on campus and local businesses. Community members would come together to share knowledge and ideas, learn something new, meet new people, and have some fun.
- Stanford University Libraries and Drexel University Libraries offer yoga classes in the library throughout the academic year. Drexel’s yoga workshops are co-sponsored with the Athletics Department.
- University of Kentucky is hosting numerous events to celebrate National Nutrition Month, including cooking classes, grocery store tours, a recipe information.
A colleague and I were discussing the ALCTS e-forum on our walk home from work the other day. I mentioned the difficulties of achieving work/life balance and maintaining a completely separate personal life and work life. He said that walking is one of the greatest therapies because walking allows people to clear the mind and allows for physical separation from the workplace.
The ALCTS e-forum closed with a wonderful quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense.”
And when all else fails, listen to Kid President’s advice: Just Dance.