Interview with the Author: Helen Rimmer on The Kind Librarian

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays

February 27, 2024

Helen Rimmer wrote the forthcoming book The Kind Librarian: Cultivating a Culture of Kindness and Wellbeing in Libraries from Facet Publishing. This book offers insights for librarians working in all settings.

My interview with Helen is below.

1. Please introduce yourself

I’m Helen Rimmer, the author of The Kind Librarian: Cultivating a Culture of Kindness and Wellbeing in Libraries. My background spans over two decades in library and higher education leadership, alongside qualifications in coaching, positive psychology, kindness, and wellbeing at work. This book embodies my purpose of transforming workplaces into kinder places and supporting their wellbeing. It builds on my expertise in fostering environments where kindness is foundational—and as a librarian it makes me proud to start the revolution there.

2. Briefly summarize The Kind Librarian: Cultivating a Culture of Kindness and Wellbeing in Libraries.

“The Kind Librarian” is a comprehensive guide aimed at transforming libraries into nurturing spaces for staff and users where kindness and wellbeing are paramount. It blends theoretical insights with practical strategies across various library settings, emphasizing the role of emotional intelligence, compassionate leadership, and flexible work environments. The book is structured into four parts, addressing the theoretical underpinnings, practical applications, leadership strategies, and a forward-looking vision for kindness and wellbeing in libraries.

Each chapter has reflection questions, exercises and case studies to bring it to life and make it a toolkit for changing environments. Creating truly kind environments is sometimes very difficult because you need to dismantle what has gone before; the book addresses this.

3. Why did you decide to write this book?

This book stems from my dedication to creating work environments where kindness and wellbeing are not just valued but are the norm. Drawing on my experiences and academic background, I saw a need for a resource that could guide library professionals toward embedding these values into their workplace culture. My goal is to share knowledge that empowers librarians to foster environments that thrive on genuine kindness and support.

4. How can librarians in all types of libraries use the content in this book?

Librarians from every kind of library in every kind of role can use this book’s ideas and methods to improve their workplaces. This includes doing kindness audits, which are checks to see how kind a place is, and working on being more empathetic and emotionally smart. The book will help libraries become key parts of their communities that look after the wellbeing of their workers and the people who use the library. This approach encourages libraries to be places where everyone feels supported and valued.

5. Specifically, how can special librarians use this book?

For special librarians this book suggests specific ways to bring kindness and wellbeing into their unique environments. These librarians are encouraged to focus on personal growth, use positive communication, and handle data with care. Such approaches aim to enhance the service they provide and the atmosphere of their workplaces, acknowledging the distinct challenges and opportunities they face, from corporate to government libraries, each with its own set of stakeholders and objectives. There are several case studies for health libraries for example, which operate in different ways.

6. The book description states the book covers the “kind use of data for wellbeing.” Will you describe what that means and how it can be implemented?

The concept of “kind use of data” focuses on ethical practices that prioritize individual and community wellbeing through transparency and responsible data management. This approach enhances staff and user wellbeing, balancing operational and ethical needs. Amy Stubbing is a specialist in this field, and kindly contributed her expertise to this chapter, ensuring the guidance is both practical and impactful for libraries aiming to implement these respectful and beneficial data practices.

7. Will you share one policy suggestion you hope all readers take away and implement?

A central suggestion is to implement regular wellbeing assessments as a proactive policy designed to monitor and support the mental and emotional health of library staff and patrons. These assessments provide ongoing insights into the wellbeing needs of the library community, enabling timely interventions and support systems to be put in place. By prioritising regular checks, libraries can identify stressors, promote mental health awareness, and create a culture of care where individuals feel valued and supported, contributing to a more positive work and service environment. It ensures regular actions are taken to improve the wellbeing of all.

8. Is there anything else you would like to share?

While waiting for the book’s release, I encourage readers to explore my blog at The Kind Brave Leader and join our Facebook community at Librarian Lifelines for insights and discussions on kindness and wellbeing. I also have a self-kindness guide for librarians: These offer a wealth of resources and a supportive community to deepen your understanding and practice of kindness in professional settings. The goal is to inspire a shift towards workplaces where compassion and support are fundamental, aligning with the book’s vision of transformative kindness and wellbeing in the library and beyond.

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays

Dr. Lauren Hays is an Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology at the University of Central Missouri, and a frequent presenter and interviewer on topics related to libraries and librarianship. Please read Lauren’s other posts relevant to special librarians. Take a look at Lucidea’s powerful integrated library systems, SydneyEnterprise, and GeniePlus, used daily by innovative special librarians in libraries of all types, sizes and budgets.

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