A Trauma-Informed Approach to Library Services

We are only now coming to terms with how common trauma really is; a landmark Kaiser study that surveyed patients receiving physicals found that almost two-thirds had experienced at least one form of abuse, neglect, or other trauma as a child. Though originating in the fields of health and social services, trauma-informed care is a framework that holds great promise for application to library work.

Trauma-informed principles can potentially transform our organizations, services, collections, physical and virtual spaces, professional practice, and workplace dynamics. In this 4-week eCourse, Librarian Rebecca Tolley will provide you with both an understanding of these principles and strategies for applying them to our work with patrons and with each other. You’ll learn new approaches that will lead to increased empathy, trust, safety, and belonging. Learners will explore these concepts through readings, reflections, and a supportive peer community.

Through the completion of this course, you will:

  • Be able to recognize the ubiquity of trauma and its effects upon our users and ourselves
  • Understand and be able to contextualize the six guiding principles of trauma-informed approaches 
  • Apply the principles of trauma-informed interaction to your personal practices of librarianship 
  • Evaluate professional organizations, team dynamics, and leadership for organizational readiness
  • Examine which library policies, procedures, and processes may evolve into trauma-responsive ones
  • Help facilitate a trauma-responsive organization and workplace in which everyone feels safe, valued, and included. 

Rebecca Tolley is a professor and librarian at East Tennessee State University. She coordinates the Sherrod Library’s research consultation service. She speaks and publishes on topics such as organizational culture, customer service, and cultivating empathy in library workers. She co-edited Generation X Librarian: Essays on Leadership, Technology, Pop Culture, Social Responsibility and Professional Identity (2011) and Mentoring in Librarianship: Essays on Working with Adults and Students to Further the Profession (2011). Her writing has appeared in anthologies, several library journals, and numerous reference works.