Resources for Besieged Librarians

From affordable mental health care options to legal support, these resources may help librarians who feel powerless or under attack.


As Michelle Downing say in our May cover story on school librarians who hit the breaking point, “You can’t self-care your way out of a toxic system, period.” But for librarians navigating trying circumstances, these resources may help.


Prevent and heal injury

Shelving and moving books can be taxing on your wrists and hands. How did I know I had carpal tunnel syndrome? The numbness and tingling at night kept me awake. I wore wrist braces while shelving books to prevent overextending my wrists and got cortisone shots for years. Ultimately I opted for carpal tunnel release surgery; the doctor also resolved tendonitis in one hand. For me, the surgery resolved the issue; recovery time was two weeks.

Read about carpal tunnel on the Mayo Clinic website.


Seek emotional support

The American Federation of Teachers offers free counseling to members who have experienced trauma or secondary trauma (which can happen when you observe an incident).

Librarians who struggle to make time for therapy appointments can check out the list of online mental health providers from Healthline, curated by a team of doctors. 

If therapy seems unaffordable or you can’t find practitioners who take your insurance, consider Talkspace, which takes insurance and offers video, unlimited text, or phone sessions starting at $65/week or less with a student discount. 

Valera Health and Headway are platforms that can connect you with counselors who accept insurance or offer a low cost per appointment (find out if they work in your state).


Connect and advocate

Urban Librarians Unite offers community for urban librarians through book clubs and conferences. The organization also provides research and advocacy. Its Trauma Study ( offers recommendations to address trauma, stress, and burnout in the library.


Rural Libraries and Social Wellbeing contains toolkits to support librarians, including a Burnout Self-Assessment quiz.

The Facebook Group Libraries Step Up (in times of crisis) has some 5,200 members. It describes itself as a “centralized location for collecting and disseminating information about urgent political or natural disasters’ effects on libraries and library services.”

Connect with ALA member groups for BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, disabled, and other affinity groups ( Jean Darnell found community and support in the Joint Conference of Librarians of Color.

Up//Root, a publishing collective of BIPOC women librarians, has resources including an article on emotional labor among this community.


Resources to battle censorship efforts

See Fuel Up for the FightSLJ’s list of toolkits, national and legal resources, campaigns, grassroots organizations, and policy information—from the ACLU to #FreetheBooks. 


Additional resources

The Anti-Defamation League fights all forms of antisemitism and bias.

GLSEN strives to make schools safe for LGBTQIA+ students to learn without bullying and harassment. 

Jess deCourcy Hinds currently teaches at the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies at City University of New York–Queens College and writes for several publications.

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