Mindfulness and Compassion: The Importance of Being a Well-Rounded Librarian

During this week’s readings and lecture, we explored the idea of compassion and how for most, being a good librarian goes beyond how well you can research something or how well you can put together a top-ten themed BiblioCommons book list of recommendations. This is a component of librarianship that is not talked about explicitly as much as it should. If I’m being honest, it’s what kept me in libraries after I got hired on. There is something genuine about the work we do in libraries and one work at my colleagues and I already know we are in it to provide a good and a service for our community.

The NHS Strategic Intent from 2013 has a really nice section that reads, “without the compassion to care, then we will have failed the needs of patients.” (2013) I am by no means comparing the work that we do in libraries as even close to important to the work that is done in the National Health Service or any part of the healthcare, I have too much respect for those who work in that field to insult them like that. My fiancée is a nurse, so I best put respect on her name. But I do think that there is an element of selflessness that goes into any kind of public work, including being a public servant in libraries. I’m of course strictly talking about public librarianship here.

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As we start off week nine of WFH in my library, I look at all the workgroups that I am a part of. Although we are providing some excellent and really creative services to our customers (we have moved away from calling them patrons) I can’t help but to think that the reason a lot of us are able to jump in and say yes is because we (paridoxically) don’t have enough time to second guess ourselves. “Doubt. The things you say to yourself when you know you can get by but feel as if you don’t know what you’re doing.” (Stephens, 2018)

There is a sense of doubt that would normally arise from me when starting any big project. Normally I would maybe think through what my next move is going to be, to a fault. Right now, there is no time to be fearful. It is the best time to experiment and try all the new things. So, I am proud to be on the team that provides immediate text response, longer form email, and as of last week, phone calls as if we were at our home branches. It’s nice to hear from the public we serve again.

Works Cited

NHS. (2013). Introducing Health Education England Our Strategic Intent January 2013. Retrieved from

Our-Strategic-Intent-web-Jan2013.pdfStephens, M. (2017, September 20). Librarian Superpowers: Office Hours. Retrieved from

Stephens, M. (2018, January 7). Champion of Confidence: Office Hours. Retrieved from

Stephens, M. T. (2019). Wholehearted librarianship: finding hope, inspiration, and balance. Chicago: ALA Editions.

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