Urban LIbrary Trauma study report cover, Title of report with image of 4 library workers sitting on a historical brownstone stoop.

Almost every library worker has a story about one event at work that left them shaken. Sometimes it’s an abusive patron, sometimes it’s workplace bullying, and sometimes it’s that haunting feeling left behind when a patron needed more help than you could provide.  The Urban Library Trauma Study (ULTS) looked to take these anecdotal stories, quantify them and build a pathway to practical solutions for the issue and move the library industry towards a culture of community care.

This two year long study  included 4 stages;

  • a comprehensive review of current literature on the topic of trauma in libraries
  • a survey of urban library workers
  • a series of virtual focus groups for urban library workers to discuss workplace issues around trauma
  • the culmination of the project was a National Forum of urban library workers, where we convened to go through the research and worked together to create a framework for moving forward.

The study was conducted to identify the root causes of trauma in urban public libraries and to develop a framework for mitigating trauma in the library workplace. The study found that there is a large-scale crisis of trauma in urban public work. This trauma is so pervasive that it seems likely that it has similar impacts in other areas of the profession. There are clear issues and indicators of institutionalized trauma and the profession’s inability to support one another in the face of a corrosive crisis in library work. 

The Urban Library Trauma Study final report provides a series of recommendations created by public facing urban library staff to address the pervasive issue of trauma in the library workplace while demonstrating how the library field can research solutions to problems while being radically inclusive of the workers those problems most impact.

We can build a better workplace culture  together, read this report and join us in making a start.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services: RE-246392-OLS-20.

The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this report do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.