Blogger Amy Steinbauer

A Librarian’s Hierarchy of Needs

If you have studied psychology or self-improvement at all, you may have come across Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I am not a scientist, but basically it’s a pyramid breakdown of what you need in order to master your life. The things you need to achieve a self-fulfilled life. At the bottom of the pyramid, is the physiological needs like safety, food, water, etc. This moves up until you get to the top where you are self-actualized because you have all your needs met and can really dream.

The “Hierarchy of Needs” comes up a lot for people when you are struggling or realizing that you aren’t having your needs being met. And this past 20 months or so has had a lot of us realizing that having our needs met at work has been more of a challenge than ever before. Work is usually just one part of the “Hierarchy of Needs” but as I have managed my team in the pandemic, I have been thinking more and more about what kind of needs you need to flourish in your job. I like to think about these things as a manager, because there are things that I can do or not do to help my staff achieve the height of their needs, and I try to be cognizant of that as much as I can. As we start to do more programming and services, I want my staff to be able to dream, try, and create; but it’s hard to do that when you feel like you have no safety net and are under too much pressure.

With that in mind, I created my own guide for a pyramid of needs that I think every librarian or library staffer needs to be able to succeed at work. At the bottom of the pyramid, is the most basic of needs. You need a job. You need an ability to get to work. You need various supplies to do your job well, from pens to construction paper.

The next layer is about feeling safe and secure. Do you have access to PPE? Will your system support you if you are being harassed at work? Do you trust the system that you work for to make you safe at work? Can you step away from work for a mental health day?

The next layer is all about social support. Do you have colleagues that you like and you can be yourself around? Do you have people who support you at work? Do you work in environment that supports the staff?

The next later is about all the good feelings. Are you proud of the job that you do? Do you feel appreciated by your community? By your branch? By your manager?

And lastly, at the very top is being self-fulfilled. Do you have space to try, and fail? Do you have the ability to dream? Do you believe in your capabilities?

It’s a hard time to think about your needs, but if you don’t then you may find yourself struggling more and more. Once you break down all the needs that are part of how to succeed, you can start to think about what you can control and not control at work. I hope this helps you find some way to think about what you need to succeed at work.

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