A few weeks ago, I was part of a Green Dot training during which I thought a lot about social and emotional skills. I wrote about how this topic has been on my mind earlier in regards to materials I buy or use in the library. But let’s be real. Many kids (and adults for that matter) know a lot about fear and don’t need an app to experience anxiety. They may need a quality book, app or felt pieces to help them develop the language to talk about that fear, but many families live day to day with anxiety and stress.
As librarians, we are bystanders to a lot that goes on in our communities. We see the stress that some of our patrons carry with them when they walk through our doors. We help them find resources when they’re in need. We provide support when our communities are in crisis. But what if the role of the bystander is different than helping people pick up the pieces? What if bystanders, for example librarians, can help diffuse potentially violent situations? You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones that may start in the library, but spiral beyond our library walls. After all, how does a family focus on literacy if they live in fear?
Each employee in our city participated in the Greet Dot training this Fall. The trainings were led by skilled community members and offered opportunities for all of us to discuss and creatively address realistic situations where we could identify a potentially violent situation and be a proactive bystander by responding directly, by delegating, or by distracting those involved (nonviolently). This isn’t a call for vigilantism, but a reminder that we can all make a difference. Many community members, young and old, have attended trainings and there is a renewed sense that the community is ours and we care.
After all, I’m pretty sure we could all use better social and emotional skills.