Collective Care in Libraries

Your Name and Title:

Holiday Vega, Librarian for Health, Psychology and Social Work

Library, School, or Organization Name:

University of Chicago Library

Co-Presenter Name(s):

Not applicable

Area of the World from Which You Will Present:

Chicago (Central US)

Language in Which You Will Present:


Target Audience(s):

Library staff & supervisors

Short Session Description (one line):

Collective Care for Library Workers: This session will put forward radical ideas for solutions both to care for library staff as well as cultivate a community of collective care for vulnerable patrons.

Full Session Description (as long as you would like):

This session will focus on a trauma informed and collective care approach to library work with patrons experiencing housing and food insecurity. Building on crip (disability) movements and mutual aid, this session will also take into account the toll this work takes on library workers. We will learn about the ways in which vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue lead to burnout for patron-facing staff, who themselves may have experienced trauma or houselessness, or may be experiencing food or housing insecurity as well. This session will suggest radical solutions to ensuring that we cultivate a culture of collective care in libraries so that we are better able to care for our most vulnerable patrons. Systemic solutions include higher pay, more paid time off for library workers, less working hours and shorter work weeks, flexible schedules, and new models of circulation and reference work that would give library workers more time off the desk, built-in “health and wellness” time off to support library workers regardless of ability or disability status. Libraries are considered the “heart of the university” and public libraries are one of the last freely accessible spaces for people experiencing houselessness, and as such, we have an opportunity to be a hub of mutual aid. Libraries can partner with mutual aid organizations in their communities, or start mutual aid initiatives alongside or even within the library.

Websites / URLs Associated with Your Session:

Not applicable

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