For National Library Week last week, another branch was doing a social media activity, inviting patrons to write and share #libraryhaiku. It was a fun idea, and we needed a NLW whiteboard question, so I asked visitors to write their own library haiku on the board.
Several of the haiku were rather personal, about the patron’s struggle with mental illness or being overwhelmed with stress. These haiku were also the ones that comments of agreement added to them.
Last fall, I attended a session called “Linking Arms Around Students in Crisis: Connecting with Campus Safety Units
” presented by Mary C. Aagard of Boise State University at the Access Services Conference. One small point Mary made has really stuck with me–as academic libraries, we address student stress management one time during the semester–during finals when it is too late to turn anything around. She asked what we could be doing better a month before finals to reach students who are struggling and support them before
they hit a crisis point?
These haiku were written at that one month point, and I think they illustrate that there are students struggling (or perhaps the better point is that students facing mental health challenges and crisis throughout the semester, not just during the last week).
I have lots of questions and no answers. What do you think? What can libraries do to better support student mental health throughout the year?