By December 16, 2020 1 Comments Read More →

Staff Self-Care Bags: Bringing Joy During Times When Joy Is Scarce

A budget-friendly recipe for happiness: book, movie, popcorn.

I think everyone can agree that the past nine months have been exceedingly challenging—in different ways for each of us. Those of us who work in libraries are no exception. We have had to shift our perspective on what our jobs entail to account for health-care precautions. As I personally wrestled with the pandemic’s challenges, I kept coming back to the fact that each of us are dealing with something—the loss of a loved one, the loss of an experience we were looking forward to, the loss of time, etc.—that takes its toll on us. While I knew that resources were limited, I wondered what I could possibly do to bring even the slightest joy, the slightest relief from the constant strain of “unprecedented times” (and hoo boy am I ever tired of that phrase!).

As a part of the Staff Social Committee at the Downers Grove Public Library, I get to contribute fun ideas for boosting staff morale and (normally) bringing us all together. Since we can’t get together physically as a group, I took some inspiration from programs we had been providing to patrons in lieu of in-person programming: staff created take-home de-stress kits for World Mental Health Day in October, and throughout the pandemic, our teen services librarian has poured countless hours into creating and putting together take-home crafts for both teens and adults. Using a combination of these ideas, I thought it would be a wonderful idea to put together kits for staff to promote self-care.

“Sometimes when big things are happening everywhere, a small thing can make a big impact.”

Because budgets are not infinite, I thought of the resource we have right at our fingertips that I know we all enjoy: books! Using materials that were already being weeded from the collection, I created self-care combos containing one book and one DVD, along with some snacks and other goodies. Now this is the best part—I was able to use my extremely rusty readers’ advisory skills to put these items together in a way that I felt would match the recipient’s reading and viewing preferences.

Working with only the items on hand sometimes meant getting crafty, using the book/movie’s tone or themes to make a match, rather than pairing by plot or by genre. For example, I paired The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood with the 2019 film Parasite. Both of these stories, on the surface, are tense and disturbing, but on another level are moving social commentaries that pose deep questions. Additionally, I had multiple copies of many of the books and movies, so I tried to vary what I matched them up with to make lots of room for a wide range of tastes.

I wanted each staff member to be able to select something that appealed to them, but in order to avoid mass contact by shuffling around to see what was in each bag, I enlisted the help of our graphic design and display coordinator to create a template for stickers displaying the contents of each bag (example below).


In addition to the book and movie, I wanted some sort of message that was positive, motivating, and not eye-roll inducing. I found some mostly humorous affirmation cards and also included a note from the committee to show everyone that we really do care about the work that each person is doing for our library. The only materials that were purchased for this project were simple white gift bags, shipping label stickers, popcorn, tea, hot chocolate, and the affirmation cards. All of these were bought in bulk to cut down on cost. This kind of project could be modified in many ways, and I’m already brainstorming how we might transform the idea for other programs. It’s not much, but sometimes when big things are happening everywhere, a small thing can make a big impact.

kriddle@dglibrary.org'

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1 Comment on "Staff Self-Care Bags: Bringing Joy During Times When Joy Is Scarce"

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  1. suzanneriddle@gmail.com' Suzanne Riddle says:

    What a great resource at such low cost, benefiting many people. I work in a hospice and know many people in home health care. Something like this will be such a lovely easy gift to brighten spirits – yes – during these “unprecedented times”.

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