APLA Continuing Education Newsletter

April 2022



LIS and Mental Health


On February 8th 2022 Infopeople Library Learning hosted a virtual talk called "We Are NOT Okay: Library Worker Trauma Before and During COVID-19 and What Happens After” which can now be seen on YouTube. It helped kick off a discussion on library Twitter, trending with #librarytrauma and #wearenotok. The speakers talked about the simultaneous normalization and erasure of traumatic experience in librarianship, especially in public libraries, in which watching patrons suffer and suffering from patron abuse is seen as “just part of the job.” It did not start with COVID-19, but the pandemic has certainly served to intensify these trends and made it more necessary than ever to talk about LIS and mental health for our own sakes and the sake of our patrons.


These conversations have slowly become more nuanced and more public. Perhaps one of the best examples is the recently published collection of essays in LIS Interrupted: Intersections of Mental Illness and Library Work (2021). I’ve not finished reading it yet myself, but it looks to be one of the more personal, yet also comprehensive, considerations of mental health and neurodiversity in libraries to come out in the past several years. Refreshingly, it tends to center “own voice” narratives and reflections from library workers with lived experience related to OCD, anxiety, depression, PTSD/CPTSD, bipolarity, ADHD, and autism, among others. It also discusses how mental illness and developmental disabilities often intersect with employment issues, like hiring, precarity, workplace bullying, and the narrative of professional “fit.” It is an indictment of the profession that some of the library workers whose experiences appear in this book still do not feel safe to write under their own names.


Being a visible proponent of mental health and disability rights in librarianship, this is something that I have personally encountered as colleagues come forward to me with their own stories and fears. What follows is just a small list of works related to LIS and mental health, which I hope shows a better way forward for all of us.


~Ben Mitchell


As always: Know of something we’ve missed out on or feel is important, let us know!




Bladek, Marta. 2021. “Student Well-Being Matters: Academic Library Support for the Whole Student.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 47 (3). doi:10.1016/j.acalib.2021.102349.


Cox, Andrew, and Liz Brewster. 2020. “Library Support for Student Mental Health and Well-Being in the UK: Before and during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 46 (6). doi:10.1016/j.acalib.2020.102256.


Dube, Miranda, and Carrie Wade. 2021. LIS Interrupted: Intersections of Mental Illness and Library Work. Sacramento, CA: Library Juice Press. https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=2934125&site=eds-live&scope=site.


Eldermire, Erin R. B., and Wasima Shinwari. 2022. “Brewing Tranquili-Tea: Supporting Student Wellness at an Academic Library.” College & Research Libraries News 83 (1): 8–12. https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edb&AN=154636420&site=eds-live&scope=site.


Eva Yin-han Chung, and Tasha Tin-oi Tse. 2022. “Effect of Human Library Intervention on Mental Health Literacy: A Multigroup Pretest–posttest Study.” BMC Psychiatry 22 (1): 1–8. doi:10.1186/s12888-022-03725-5.


“Inclusive Library Service to Individuals with Mental Illnesses and Disorders.” 2020. The International Journal of Information, Diversity, & Inclusion 4 (1): 119–26. https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsjsr&AN=edsjsr.48644529&site=eds-live&scope=site.


Green, Michelle. 2019. “Inclusive Library Service to Individuals with Mental Illnesses and Disorders.” The International Journal of Information, Diversity, & Inclusion 4 (1). doi:10.33137/ijidi.v4i1.32500.


Lawrence, Emily. 2013. “Loud Hands in the Library.” Progressive Librarian, no. 41 (Fall): 98–109. https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edo&AN=91942766&site=eds-live&scope=site.


Phillips, Abigail L. 2019. “Mental Health behind the Desk.” Library Journal 144 (5): 51. https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edb&AN=136630857&site=eds-live&scope=site.


Priego, Ernesto, and Anthony Farthing. 2020. “Barriers Remain: Perceptions and Uses of Comics by Mental Health and Social Care Library Users.” Open Library of Humanities 6 (2). doi:10.16995/olh.98.


Salvesen, Linda, and Cara Berg. 2021. “‘Who Says I Am Coping’: The Emotional Affect of New Jersey Academic Librarians during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 47 (5). doi:10.1016/j.acalib.2021.102422.  


Sara Holder, and Amber Lannon. 2020. Student Wellness and Academic Libraries: Case Studies and Activities for Promoting Health and Success. Chicago, Illinois: Association of College and Research Libraries. https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=2678392&site=eds-live&scope=site.


The Public Library Association Social Worker Task Force. A Trauma-Informed Framework for Supporting Patrons: The PLA Workbook of Best Practices. Chicago: The Public Library Association, 2022. https://www.ala.org/news/member-news/2022/03/pla-s-trauma-informed-framework-supporting-patrons


Thomas, Sabrina, and Kacy Lovelace. 2019. “Combining Efforts: Libraries as Mental Health Safe Spaces.” College & Research Libraries News 80 (10): 546–64. https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edb&AN=139713068&site=eds-live&scope=site.





Disclaimer: The information and opinions shared through the listserv are those of the individuals sending the messages and are not necessarily endorsed by the Atlantic Provinces Library Association.

To unsubscribe from the APLA-LIST list, click the following link: