This webinar was moderated by Davis Erin Anderson, the Assistant Director for Programs and Partnerships at METRO Library Council. Panelists include Linda Miles (Assistant Professor and Librarian at Hostos Community College) and Susanne Markgren (Assistant Director, Head of Technical Services at Manhattan College).

Linda Miles and Susanne Markgren, authors of the recently-released How to Thrive As A Library Professional, joined us for a lunchtime discussion on working mindfully in uncertain times. In addition to sharing their wisdom with us, Markgren and Miles led us through abbreviated versions of a pair of activities our participants were able to do via Zoom. If you’d like to try the full versions at home, please take a look at the worksheet Markgren and Miles provided. 

During the webinar, Markgren and Miles reinforced that self-compassion and mindfulness are more important now than ever before; these methods can be used to help us through this difficult time. To be mindful is to be present in the moment, as an alternative to longing for the past or worrying about the future. It’s especially easy right now to forget about ourselves and our own personal and professional needs. But, we’re reminded, if we don’t show ourselves love and compassion, how can we be there for people who need it from us? 

We’re all learning how to cope with the present, including how to communicate differently through several platforms, and with different schedules and spaces. We’re all experiencing this differently and, Markren and Miles suggest, we can keep that in mind while interacting with each other. Be kind. We can take this advice into our personal lives, too: reach out to your friends and colleagues who are more vulnerable at this time (especially those who live alone, and those who have addiction problems or health concerns). 

Markgren and Miles acknowledge a constant low-grade (or even at times, high-grade) anxiety. While we want to keep informed with the news, this seems to make us more anxious. Consider limiting your news intake. When it comes to work, their advice includes establishing priorities to help you become more productive in the long run–and understanding that productivity right now, is likely very different than it was pre-pandemic. Tend to what’s important and be realistic about how much time tasks will take when you communicate with your manager and your colleagues. Know your value and communicate it. Stand up for yourself and take credit. Find ways to let off steam and be social. Even if you’re more introverted, connection is important.

Our speakers noted that there’s been an uptick in the perceived need to demonstrate your value by overworking. As a remedy to this, think about how you add value to your institution, even if you’re normally the kind of person who would shy away from this type of thinking about yourself. To those dealing with imposter syndrome: know that you’re not alone. This is very common. Our speakers encourage you to remember that your success comes from hard work, intelligence, and your innate ability. The struggles you’re experiencing likely have to do with the external circumstances happening right now. Be kind to yourself and appreciate the things that you are accomplishing. Reach out for help if you need it. And remember: It’s OK to not be OK.

We thank Linda and Susanne for sharing their time and insights with us. Please join us for one of our upcoming community calls, online workshops, and virtual panel discussions. Learn more about our events at metro.org/events.