Notes: Port in a Storm, the CILIP Libraries and Student Wellbeing Workshop 2021

Be Well @ NCL

Recently, I attended a very useful event organised by CILIP, the library and information association, on libraries and student wellbeing.

The first speaker introduced us to the ‘Be Well @ NCL‘ campaign, advertising their physical and online wellbeing collections. Basing the collection content on the national ‘Reading Well‘ scheme, the University of Newcastle Libraries have been able to successfully build their collections and have placed them in discreet areas around the libraries to enable their readers to avoid judgement and to read and browse in relative peace.

Keen to assess the impact of their collections, the library team wanted to gather UX feedback and learn about use. To this end, they produced a series of promotional ‘bee-themed’ feedback postcards and posters to place near the collections.

A quick perusal of their borrowing statistics showed them that, following the campaign, that 56% of their collection was out on loan at any one time. The post-pandemic figures saw that figure fall to 45% – still impressive.

Following this campaign, they produced more promotional materials to try and reach out further and centred it around the mental health charity Mind’s ‘5 Ways To Wellbeing‘ campaign, pulling extracts (inspirational quotes) from the collections to promote both the physical and online (Leganto) collections.

The 5 Ways to Wellbeing

  1. Connect
  2. Be active
  3. Keep learning
  4. Help others
  5. Taking notice

Teeside Learning Hub – LibGuide Collections

Next, we learnt about the Teeside Learning Hub, a LibGuide which offers sections on:

  1. Moodboosting
  2. Reading Well for mental health
  3. Fiction collection
  4. Activities
  5. Mentally Healthy Universities Project (MHUP)
  6. Workplace wellbeing champions
  7. Peer support

The takeaways for me here were that the activities covered events involving a regular book group with content for study taken from ‘The NEA Big Read‘ campaign, a ‘wellbeing and creative writing’ group and a ‘crafting for wellbeing’ group.

I also noted with interest that Cambridge is involved with the MHUP and that is a project developed in unison with Mind.

Student-led wellbeing initiatives

Next, we learned how University of Hull have experimented with rearranging their library for a term into ‘Silent’, ‘Whispering’ and ‘Talking’ spaces. In their ‘Silent’ and ‘Whispering’ spaces, they developed a silent movie theme and created their own movie posters to go with the playing of silent movies on touchscreens.

Next, they ran a ‘pop up and pep up’ campaign developing a ‘relax and chill’ podcast, and a series of timetabled events (in collaboration with their Sport department) covering such things as pilates and counselling sessions in their library spaces.

Disappointingly, for the amount of time, effort and cost involved with both these projects they didn’t get much engagement with, in the latter case, their students citing that they were too busy for non-curricular events.

Their next project is going to be to open to staff and students (probably a better idea!) and will revolve around crafts with ideas gathered including

  1. Lego
  2. Pebble-painting
  3. Keyring making
  4. Origami
  5. Crochet
  6. Sewing/knitting
  7. Christmas-themed events (such as one making origami Christmas trees)


Finally, as an idea-gathering exercise the various library staff attending were given four poser questions and ask to contribute to an online ideas board:

  1. Why are libraries the leaders in student wellbeing?
  2. How can we facilitate these activities online and what are the threats / opportunities in the pandemic?
  3. What has lockdown highlighted about our practice in relation to staff / student wellbeing? What aspects of “the new normal” might we want to retain or discard?
  4. Which other internal / external services or groups might have positive potential for collaborations?

You can find the attendees’ rapid-fire responses in the two downloadable files below:

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