“Fostering Wellness in the Workplace” – Book Coming Soonish

I am excited to announce that I have signed a contract with ALA Editions for a book tentatively titled “Fostering Wellness in the Workplace.” This book will be an expansion of the very popular class I developed and teach at NNLM.

I am particularly excited that Twanna Hodge, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Librarian at the University of Florida will be writing Chapter 5. Chapter 5 will address the importance of cultural humility, diversity equity, and inclusive, emotional, and invisibility labor as aspects of a healthy working environment.

While the contract was signed before our current COVID-19 crisis, the topic is more important and relevant than ever. We have set an ambitious deadline to have our completed drafts to ALA Editions by the end of August.

We will also develop a companion site for the book who wish to explore topics and resources beyond our 40,000-word limit.

photo of a desktop computer on a white desk with multiple plants
Photo by Sanni Sahil on Unsplash



Libraries are dedicated to improving the lives of their patrons. In many libraries, this includes services, programs, and outreach dedicated to the health and wellness of their communities.  However, libraries often fail to look inward to the health and welfare of their staff. This book will take a holistic approach to examine why and how libraries should focus on improving the health and wellness of library staff.

This book will explore the aspects of a healthy workplace, including physical, mental, and emotional components. We will look at evidence about the benefits of creating a healthy working environment, why it matters to individual employees, to the library as an organization, and to your community.  We will also discuss changes that could and should be made at the team and organizational levels to improve workplace health and wellness for everyone.

Whether you are an administrator looking to improve the health and wellness of your library staff or a library staff member looking to start a health and wellness movement for staff in your library, this book is for you! Fostering a health and wellness culture at your library benefits everyone!

Table of Contents 

Chapter 1 Introduction

This chapter will provide an introduction to the topic and lay out the groundwork for the book.

Chapter 2 What is Wellness in the Workplace

This chapter will define health and wellness, as they will be addressed in the book. It will provide an overview of the topics that will be covered in the book. It will also briefly touch on topics that people might expect to be included that will not be included.

We will take a holistic view of health. In addition to physical health, we will consider the psychological and social aspects of health. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”[1]

In this book we will apply that to health and wellness in the workplace, meaning that we will discuss health and wellness at work not just as the absence of negative aspects, or a “good enough” working environment. We will explore what a workplace looks like that strives to ensure the complete physical, mental, and social well-being of workers. While the complete physical, mental, and social well-being of workers should be a means and ends in, and of themselves, we will discuss how this approach to a work environment benefits the library and the community it serves.

Chapter 3 Physical Space

This chapter will address the physical aspects of the library workspace. Many libraries are still using old metal desks.  We will discuss the ergonomics of both standing and sit desks. The benefits of standing and walking desks for library staff. We will explore the research on the effects of air quality and smell on worker health and productivity.  There is a growing body of research on the benefits of access to natural light and nature to physical and mental health. Finally, the chapter will address noise issues in the workplace. Many libraries have an open office space, whether from repurposing space that was not originally intended to house staff or from following the unfortunate trend in Silicon Valley for open floor plans.

Chapter 4 Workplace Policies

This chapter will start by examining the policies around wages, working schedules, where employees work. For example, one of the most essential things a healthy workplace does is provide a living wage for the area. A living wage is one of the social determinants of health mentioned in the Healthy People 2020 Initiative. A living wage means workers do not have to choose between filling a prescription or putting gas in their car or to choose between healthy fruits and vegetables at the grocery store and rent. It is important to note that a living wage is not the poverty level. The chapter will address the benefit of telecommuting and remote work, flexible work schedules, and touch briefly on things such as providing guidance on child and eldercare.

Chapter 5 Mental and Emotional Policies, Official and Unofficial

This chapter will address issues involved in employee wellness that can be difficult to create specific policies for, such as emotional and invisible labor. It will explore workplace policies and practices that contribute to compassion fatigue and burnout.

Many of those in librarianship feel drawn to the profession, and vocational awe can make us feel as if taking our full lunch break away from our desk is selfish, and there is a chance that it may be perceived as selfish by others. It is essential that we make healthy choices for ourselves and encourage healthy choices in our co-workers and staff.

This chapter will touch on diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as cultural humility as an essential aspect of wellness.

Chapter 6 What the Library Can Do

This chapter will focus on steps libraries can take to improve workplace wellness. Most libraries may be able to do one or two small things to start with. This chapter will recommend concrete steps, based on evidence in previous chapters, that can be taken by management and administrators to improve the health and wellness in the libraries.

Chapter 7 What you Can Do

This chapter will look at what library staff can do as individuals to improve health and wellness in their library. In addition to the topics included in the first section, this chapter will also explore the eight dimensions of health, mindfulness, and other personal choices that can be made to improve wellness in the workplace.

Chapter 8. Conclusion

This chapter will revisit each of the topics discussed throughout the book. It will continue to stress that the most critical next step is to change one thing. It will encourage readers to pick one aspect they can change personally and one that can advocate library-wide change.

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