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As Compassion Fatigue Takes its Toll, Schools and Public Libraries Take Steps to Support Librarians

School Library Journal: “…Caring for others is often part of the job of being a school and youth librarian. In librarianship, as in some other professions such as nursing, there’s growing awareness that this caregiving is a form of work layered on top of other job responsibilities. It’s emotional labor, and when librarians are overworked and drained from dealing with others’ needs and not having time for their own, it can lead to what researchers call compassion fatiguLibrarians are often counseled at professional conferences, on blogs, and on social media that toward off compassion fatigue, they must practice self-care: go for a walk during lunch hour, take a five-minute meditation break, drink enough water. Although these tips are useful on an individual level, not everyone is able to take advantage of them, and to some, they seem like Band Aid suggestions that don’t address the underlying causes of burnout. However, some schools and public libraries are taking compassion fatigue seriously and using effective strategies to support their staff and insulate them from burnout. Researchers define compassion fatigue as the combination of secondary trauma and burnout—and have often applied it to the experiences of doctors, nurses, and first responders who are regularly exposed to traumatic events. Librarians, too, are often exposed to trauma. Librarians in Philadelphia made headlines a couple years ago because they were administering Narcan to people overdosing outside the library…”

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