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Preparing for Sabbatical

“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.”
― Alan Cohen

As August approaches I am feeling a strange mix of emotions about my upcoming sabbatical. For the most part, I am feeling so very grateful to have the opportunity to do one and excited about diving into research and writing on wellness in libraries.

But there is a small part of me that is anxious about disconnecting from campus and working solo for an entire year. It’s overwhelming to think of an expanse of days with no set structure or connections with colleagues. I am the type of person who thrives when I’m busy with a lot of different projects on the go…the thought of spending time reading and reflecting is – to be completely honest – a little terrifying for me!

Unstructured days, here I come! 😳

Over the next year, my research and writing involves the concept of wellness in academic libraries. What is the role of a library in offering wellness support? What types of wellness initiatives are offered by libraries? What qualifications/training would help library staff to support the needs of college and university students?

Last year, I ran a virtual “Wellness Book Club” in the fall and winter terms and I plan to run an in-person book club this fall (currently trying to pick the book!). There is great deal of research on the benefits of reading on mental wellbeing (and further benefits of reading fiction).

I’m also curious to investigate the landscape of wellness in academic libraries. Last week, I launched a survey for Canadian academic librarians and staff who are involved in wellness initiatives. I’m excited to see what kinds of programming, collections and partnerships are happening out there!

The wellness space is teeming with books, podcasts, and articles and this year will be a great opportunity to dive deep into what is being written and discussed on the topic. One new book that I’m looking forward to reading is Who is Wellness For: An Examination of Wellness Culture and who it leaves behind by Fariha Roisin. Wellness culture is notorious for being a little exclusive, expensive and harmful.

The worry of mixing some of the negative parts of wellness culture into libraries, which should be a space for all, is always in the back of my mind…and is wellness even the word we should be using?

A colleague recommended bullet journaling to me to help me structure what I hope to accomplish on sabbatical so I did order this cute little journal.

Staying organized

Bullet journaling is a bit more complex than I thought but I love the idea of listing goals in various parts of life and planning out an ideal day. I even signed a book out from the public library on the ins and outs of a bullet journal!

Finally, the quote above really spoke to me as I wrapped my head around the “why” behind a sabbatical. The last few years have been a whirlwind of becoming a family of 5, moving house, returning to work full time, doing a few research projects, a reorg at work, and then (happily) teaching fitness. It has felt too busy to slow down and take a breath, let alone do some deep reading and reflection.

Knowing (deep in my bones) how essential it is to rest, both physically and mentally, this sabbatical is heaven sent and I’m so grateful to begin. It’s my hope that I can regain the creativity, reflection and slow thinking that has been all but lost these past few years 💗

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