Mindful School Libraries: Creating and Sustaining Nurturing Spaces and Programs

Libraries Unlimited. Feb. 2021. 134p. pap. $40. ISBN 9781440875274.
The stress and strain of the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the trauma that many students already face. Social and emotional learning is taking center stage in education right now as educators find ways to heal and uplift struggling students. Stephens’s timely book aims to show how school libraries can adapt to the needs of their often-stressed patrons. Each of the 11 chapters connects an aspect of mindfulness with library services. The author delves into the physical presentation of the library, the use of space, services and information, the collection, policies and procedures, and social services. Reading the book feels like having an intimate conversation with Stephens as she blends research and resources with discussions of her own experiences. She encourages librarians to deliberately consider how libraries can best serve students, teachers, and the community—but she reminds librarians not to neglect their own mental and physical health. In many ways, the library already supports the social and emotional health of students by offering a safe, welcoming environment where they can look for books without worrying about being graded. By taking a mindful approach to library services, Stephens stresses, librarians can expand the possibilities for a nurturing space where students and teachers can decompress. An annotated bibliography provides additional information on sources cited.
VERDICT Professional materials on mindfulness and social emotional needs are more important than ever, making Stephens’s volume an ideal choice for most collections.

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