This is a guest post from Elissa Hardy, LCSW, social worker at Denver Public Library.
In 2012, I was handed a book by my supervisor that would change my life. I had worked in homeless services for seven years at the time, and I was burnt out, I was exhausted, and I was traumatized. I wasn’t sure of where my career was going. I had been a social worker for years, it was my life’s commitment, and I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. The book was Trauma Stewardship by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky. In her book, van Dernoot Lipsky identifies the ways we respond to trauma exposure, even when we don’t always realize we’ve been affected. The identification of this is important, without this, we may feel like there is something wrong with us and wonder why we aren’t the person we used to be. Once we can recognize this, we can start to make changes in our lives to continue to work in the face of trauma daily, or decide to not continue to do this at all. Van Dernoot Lipsky discusses how to respond to our own trauma exposure responses, how to find our focus and community, and how to find balance and be centered. Even when doing this work. My nearly four years of working in public libraries has been eye opening, trauma walks in an out of our buildings every day, whether or not we are aware of it. Therefore, I highly recommend this book to anyone working in a library.
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