Guest Blogger

#PLA2022: Wellness Hours for Libraries

After an exciting morning exploring the coffee shops of downtown Portland, I settled in for my first session of Thursday, and was immediately greeted by the warmth and engaging presence of Ozy Aloziam of the Denver Public Library. 

Her session was titled “Fostering Equity and Inclusion by Promoting Employee Wellbeing” and was an absolutely fascinating look at her research into racial equity and the pilot program, funded partially by IMLS, that the Denver Public Library undertook to provide employee wellness through an equity lens.  This included giving full-time employees up to 8 hours of “wellness hours “that they could use each quarter. I was immediately intrigud by the concept of wellness hours, and Aloziam walked through a few ways they were being used by their staff: for therapy appointments, meditation, fitness classes, and more. 

That got me thinking…what sort of “wellness hours” would children’s librarians use? 

Could we get physical therapy specifically geared toward our knees—because shelving in the children’s section is TOUGH! I know I can’t be the only one feeling it in my joints. 

What about wellness hours spent with therapists specifically trained to help us separate our home lives from the tough situations, and often sad situations, we experience at work?

Aloziam spoke about the wellness app Shine, and the inclusive support it gave to the DCL employees. What would a wellness app specifically geared towards librarians look like—a breathing exercise for calming ourselves down before a big program?

I would love the chance to sneak in a fitness class during my day—which can often feel really sedentary, especially if I’m not doing story time and bouncing around that day.  Would I be a better librarian, a better provider of services to our patrons, if I had a chance to take a yoga class occasionally during the work day, and then come back and get back into the swing of after school programming?

It’s hard to tell, but I can’t wait to see the final results of DPL’s wellness pilot and see how inclusive wellness makes its way into more and more libraries. 

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

Guest conference blogger Aryssa Damron (she/her) is a children’s librarian with the District of Columbia Public Library system and a member of the ALSC membership committee. This is her first PLA, and she’s so excited to attend in person, and present in person on Thursday the 24th! Aryssa is looking forward to learning more about some of the great new books coming out this year and meeting other librarians from around the country. Her favorite snack is grapes and pepperjack cheese, always in the exact same bite.

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