Wellness Programs at ALA 2019 Annual Conference in DC

If you have ever attended one of the ALA Annual Conferences, you know it can be a bit overwhelming to think about all of the scheduled programs, meetings and events. Part of having a successful Conference experience includes the ability to take care of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally. To help you with this endeavor is a variety of sessions that can be a resource for you both at Conference and once you return home. Wellness programs at the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. are listed below. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn about ways to manage stress for yourself and your staff if you supervise others.

Yoga & Meditation

Washington Convention Center – Room 208B

Need your yoga fix or a minute for meditation? ALA’s new yoga room is equipped with what you need to reach a level of peace and a tranquil state of mind. Sponsored by DK Publishing and ABRAMS

Yoga Room Hours:

  • Friday, June 21 – 9:00am – 4:00pm
  • Saturday, June 22 – 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Sunday, June 23 – 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Monday, June 24 – 9:00am – 2:00pm



9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Self-Care Is Not Selfish: Preventing Burnout

Location: Washington Convention Center – 1468A

Do you find yourself always being busy at work? Working past your regular hours? Thinking about work night and day? Not taking your vacation time? Starting to dread going to work, getting sick a lot, or feeling overworked and exhausted? You are not alone. Library work, in any role and any library, can take a heavy toll on people. This panel presentation will address best practices for self-care from three perspectives: what you can do for yourself, what you can do as a coworker for others, and what you (or others) can do in management roles. Hear from a variety of library staff in different roles and types of libraries. Participants will come away with practical tips and action items to implement right away to better take care of yourself, others, and to foster a physically and mentally healthy work environment.


9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Dealing with Difficult People

Location: Marriott Marquis – Independence Ballroom in Placement & Career Development Center

Learn practical ways to identify and remedy different types of difficult people using triage accurately to name drama patterns. Learn the signs of bullies, narcissists and emotional vampires and how to limit their harm. Deploy proven techniques to lower our reactivity to the most challenging people among us.


10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Sidestepping Stress in a Distractible World

Location: Marriott Marquis – Independence Ballroom in Placement & Career Development Center

Original, evidence-based solutions are offered that apply across one’s entire life. Emphasis will be placed on the science of positive psychology and how to be sure we design downtime and live our highest priorities. Learn to break persistent patterns around chronic stress using science and wisdom to cultivate a more self-authored, less reactive stance.  


1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
How Did I Get Here: Exploring Mindfulness in Library Instruction

Location: Washington Convention Center – 154A-B

In today’s heavily networked and fast-paced world, mindfulness has emerged as a critical component in maintaining mental health and happiness. In the work environment, mindfulness is key to reducing burnout and prioritizing work-life balance. There is a growing interest among educators to integrate thoughtful and conscientious techniques into their classrooms, which has proven beneficial to both the instructor and the student. Join public, academic, and school librarians who have integrated these methods into their instruction to learn how awareness techniques can improve and enhance teaching efforts. Ven. Sagarananda will lead the audience through a 15-minute meditation at the beginning of the session. 


1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Promoting Wellness in the Library Workplace: A Conversation

Location: Marriott Marquis – Independence Ballroom in Placement & Career Development Center

It is clear that the workplace provides an optimal opportunity for employee wellness efforts. But whose responsibility is it to ensure wellness for library workers? Join us as we continue a lively discussion that moves beyond the consideration of just physical health. We will discuss elements of well-being and the implications for those who work in libraries. We will also discuss personal responsibility for achieving wellness along with the employer’s roles.


2:30 – 3:30 p.m.

Bolster Academic Libraries as Integral Safe Spaces for Mental Health

Location: Washington Convention Center – 143B

Libraries hold a unique position as safe spaces that encourage users to seek out and read credible information. Academic libraries are great spaces for students who struggle with mental health difficulties. As part of a mental health initiative to become a trauma-informed campus, Marshall University libraries launched a partnership with counseling services to utilize the library’s space. These included transforming the study rooms into mental health safe places to decompress and find mental health services across campus. Marshall University Libraries launched a library-wide art exhibition titled, Don’t Call Me Crazy: Resiliency through Art, which filled each floor with artwork by students, faculty and staff who suffer from diverse mental health challenges from anxiety and depression to learning disabilities. Partnering with the Counseling Services department, we created innovative panel presentations on various mental health issues, each including ways in which students, faculty and staff could find support. Counseling services held support groups within the library as a continued effort to demonstrate the library as a space of safety whereby all people can come to find information and support. At the end of this panel presentation, attendees will identify the characteristics of a leading library supporting the mental health of its students. Attendees will generate new ideas to advance proposals to support varying mental health agencies. All participants will evaluate and discover how their library space is fundamental to supporting the retention of students with mental health challenges.



11:30am – 12:30pm

Catch the Wellness Hour

Yoga to Open the Heart with Susan Verde

Location: Washington Convention Center – Room 208B

Join certified yoga and wellness instructor and author Susan Verde as she leads a heart-opening flow and meditation. Discover how yoga cultivates patience, resilience, creativity, and confidence in all of us.  You’ll also learn how you can bring mindfulness and movement into your library or classroom.


1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Wellness in the Library Workplace

Location: Marriott Marquis – Independence Ballroom in Placement & Career Development Center

You’re a library worker. You already know how to help those in your community find health information. As a library worker, what are you doing to manage your well-being? Individual and community well-being are inherently connected. Thus, it is critical that workplaces be areas of wellness for their employees. If you are a supervisor, how are you helping to ensure your staff stays healthy (physically, emotionally, etc.)? Join us to discover practical ways to improve your well-being. We will also discuss ways to increase overall wellness for all staff in libraries so that we have happy, healthy and safe work environments.


2:30 – 3:30 p.m.

Mental Health and Tenure: Examining the Intersection Between Institutional Supports and Work-Related Stress

Location: Washington Convention Center – 143C

Researchers surveyed U.S.-based tenure track librarians regarding institutional supports and occupational stress. This presentation will report their findings and equip attendees with the information needed to reduce their occupational stress, advocate for institutional support and evaluate the tenure process and culture at their institution with mental health in mind. A question and answer session will follow the presentation, and attendees will have time to discuss their own experiences with peers.



9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Mindfulness in Librarianship

Location: Washington Convention Center – 150B

Are your students increasingly overwhelmed, stressed, or unable to focus? What about you? Mindfulness has excellent potential to address these concerns as well as to improve student learning, enhance service levels and collaborative relationships, and create more welcoming and inclusive library spaces. This workshop will explore the value of mindfulness practices personally and professionally and provide examples of how mindfulness can play a role in teaching and learning, the library environment, and programming. While addressing many contexts for mindfulness in librarianship, this practical session will provide participants with an opportunity to discuss mindfulness and its applications for their communities and to practice mindfulness and see how it impacts them. Takeaways include resources for further learning, practical, low-cost strategies for integrating mindfulness in librarianship, and simple mindfulness techniques that participants can apply right away at home or at work.


9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Exploring Trauma and Recovery through Comics

Location: Washington Convention Center – 158A-B

Trauma is life-changing, from living through the explosive conflict of a war zone to recovering from personal ordeals. Eyewitness accounts are particularly well-evoked in the constraints and freedoms of a graphic narrative. This panel will draw together creators who can speak from their first-hand knowledge of violence and the work that goes into expressing a traumatic event in comics. Attendees will learn about expressing strong emotions and experiences graphically, the difficulties of first-person narration and reportage, and receive suggestions for their collections.