Friday, March 31, 2017

Strategies for the Burnt-Out Librarian: OLC Northeast Chapter Conference - 3.30.17

Here are the notes from the Strategies for the Burnt-Out Librarian presentation at the OLC Northeast Chapter Conference yesterday:

Link to the Power Point

Symptoms of Burnout:

  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • crying jags
  • anxiety attacks
  • loss of appetite
  • weight gain 
  • teeth grinding
  • insomnia
  • nightmares
  • increased drug, alcohol, tobacco use
  • forgetfulness
  • low productivity
  • inability to concentrate 
Audience suggestions:
  • awareness of how long you have left to work on your shift
  • low productivity - not feeling like completing tasks but not having the option not to do them

Causes of Burnout:

  • budget pressures
  • heavy workloads
  • an overload of clerical duties
  • the need to respond quickly
  • administration demands
  • difficult patrons
  • technology-related problems
  • little input into collection decisions
  • few opportunities for advancement
Audience suggestions:
  • being "on" at the service desk constantly or if you work in a small community, being "on" everywhere because you run into patrons outside of the library
  • renovations
  • having experience but being stripped of responsibilites
  • in regards to "administration demands" above - someone suggested to just wait 5 years and it'll change - or hold out and try to be the change
  • lots of gossip and venting to coworkers - creates a negative work environment

Strategies to Deal with Burnout:
  • recognize burnout
  • use your vacation time, breaks, etc.
  • exercise, stretch
  • eat well
  • know your limitations
  • learn to say “No”
  • don’t be a perfectionist
  • accept help from others
  • go home on time
  • straighten office everyday
  • don’t take work home with you
  • identify activities that relax you 
  • develop a support network
  • ask for new job duties
  • consider a job change
Audience suggestions:
  • don't think about work on vacation...or at home
  • establish boundaries as a supervisor that work for you (e.g. not calling when off work, etc.)
  • get out of the building at times when you can on breaks
  • put headphones in and listen to music (or not!) to discourage distractions from others while on breaks
  • do chair/desk exercises to stretch and refresh (use Google for ideas)
  • how to say no to management:
    • point out what you are already doing - offer compromise and other solutions
    • suggest other coworkers to take on projects/tasks instead
    • hide! (just kidding)
    • have an honest conversation with your boss about being burnt out and break that barrier
    • let your boss know what will suffer or not happen by taking on another task/project
      • make it about the library and not you personally
  • ask for help, even though a lot of us want control and think it'll reflect poorly on us
  • go home on time and alleviate patrons staying after closing 
    • turn off computers early
    • make frequent announcements about closing times
    • don't perform certain services that take awhile (new cards, passports, faxes, etc.) after a certain time
  • don't check work email from home
  • Google "satisfying videos" to find some relaxing things to zone out to
  • identifying relaxing activities
    • yoga
    • meditation
    • download the "Stop Breather Think" app
  • look at the items in your collection for help (the 150s books, relaxation audiobooks, etc.)
  • don't be afraid to ask for different job duties or swap some with others
  • regarding job change - it might not be the wrong profession for you, but it might be the wrong organization for you


Anything to add for alleviating burnout? Leave it in the comments!

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