Work/life balance, stress reduction, learning, and having fun

by Rachael Altman, Head Editor, INALJ Alabama

Work/life balance, stress reduction, learning, and having fun

raI 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Fab Lab at Fayetteville Free Library: Learning how to make “things” is awesome!
  5. 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.

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.



Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list (formerly I Need a Library Job) and former CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of, a crowdfunding platform focused on African patrimony, heritage and cultural projects. INALJ was founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard. Its social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ. INALJ has had over 21 Million page hits and helped many, many thousands of librarians find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in one month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this with many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro and many other publications in the past decade. She presents whenever she can, including serving on three panels at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Las Vegas; as breakout presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa; as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting; at the National Press Club in Washington DC; McGill University in Montreal, Canada; the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has been living and working in Budapest, Hungary and Western New York State. She spent years running her husband’s moving labor website, fixed and sold old houses and assisted her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food. She is preparing to re-enter the workforce and is job hunting. Her husband is now the co-editor of INALJ, a true support!  She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay. 


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