Mindfulness practice has tremendous potential to help librarians manage work-related stress and improve the quality of our library services. Librarians are trained to effectively manage a fast changing information and technology environment, and to enable others to succeed and thrive in a 21st century knowledge society. However, such rapid technological change, combined with economic uncertainty, changing user habits and ever-evolving models of library service, can exact a human toll. Ever-increasing demands, having to “do more with less” and constant multitasking can make us feel time-starved, spending our energy worrying about the past and projecting into the future. Chronic stress and burnout can result. Mindfulness practice has much to offer to allay this state of “mindlessness” and bring us back to a balanced, healthy state. It trains us to: 1) be present, nonjudgmentally, in the moment; 2) focus on simplicity in all things; 3) adopt and maintain a “beginner’s mind”; and 4) practice lovingkindness and compassion on a daily basis. Such mindfulness techniques as breathing, meditation, and the practice of yoga and Tai Chi are powerful ways that we as librarians can begin to incorporate mindfulness in our daily lives, enabling us to provide library services with a spirit of engagement, joy, and fulfillment.
Kristen Mastel is an Outreach and Instruction Librarian at the University of Minnesota. She obtained her Masters of Library Science from Indiana University-Bloomington, and is currently collecting oral histories about a local Japanese garden for her Masters of Liberal Studies thesis. Four years ago, Kristen completed the eight-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, and since that time maintains a daily practice. She also is a certified Reiki Practitioner Level II.
Genevieve Innes is the Public Services Librarian at the Ruth Haas Library at Western Connecticut State University, and obtained her MS in Information Sciences (MLS) from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Genevieve is a member of the Association of College and Research Libraries, and is active on the Education and Behavioral Sciences Section. She presented a poster entitled “Mindful Librarianship: Using LibGuides to Meet Information Needs in the Moment” at the 2011 conference of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals held in the United Kingdom. She cultivates mindfulness in her daily life through a practice of yoga, Tai Chi and meditation.