Librarians are shepherds, guiding students to discover calm spaces, resources, and stories to serve particular moments and communities for listening and understanding. The school library and the interactions within represent one node in each learner's unique system of relationships and exchanges at school and home. This issue's focus on trauma-sensitive school libraries draws our attention to the very center of that work: serving the nuanced, complex, whole student who enters the library space or accesses the library's digital portal. As educators and information professionals, we've always shouldered the difficult task of acting with concern for the "whole individual," when often we don't know the whole story about a student's life, home, and experiences. In the role of educator, we may not necessarily be aware of details that have shaped a student's personal need or interest— for reasons ethical, legal, and otherwise. Yet in recent years, cultural conversations have been illuminating social and emotional concerns previously kept silent, including mental health, abuse and neglect, and more broadly, adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs—and schools are responding to address these and other needs of their students. Through professional development, school-wide initiatives, and community partnerships, educators and school leaders are working to create environments of safety, empathy, mindfulness, and caring communication for children, families, and caregivers.
To prepare for this issue of SLC, I read and reflected on articles and websites pertaining to forming trauma-informed and trauma-sensitive schools. As we consider the roles and responsibilities of school librarians in supporting such efforts, I learned that an important tenet to acknowledge is there must be a school-wide transformation, because "the understanding of an individual teacher is not nearly enough," as explained by the authors of Helping Traumatized Children Learn (Cole et al. 2013). Further,
Everyone—administrators, educators, paraprofessionals, parents, custodians, bus drivers, lunch personnel—must be part of a school-wide change in understanding and response that is supported from the top down and the bottom up….Many good programs and services can be employed in the process of creating a trauma-sensitive school. However, no program by itself can make a school trauma sensitive, and overly prescriptive instructions cannot address the difficulties of making changes in a complex school ecosystem and culture (pp. 9-10).
Bearing this in mind, then, you won't find any articles offering "quick steps to becoming trauma-informed" in your school library practice. These issues and strategies, professional dispositions and human emotions are by nature intricate and diverse. What we can offer, however, are articles that aim to build your understanding and call your attention to the many aspects of trauma-informed school librarianship and schools, from showing authenticity and presence in interacting with students to using YA texts as tools for building empathy. To further contribute to your learning, below are some resources that I found helpful in exploring this topic. I am motivated by the practices that I have read about, and hopeful that we can learn and share more together.
Alber, Rebecca. "Supporting Students Living in Foster Care." Edutopia (August 30, 2019). https://www.edutopia.org/article/supporting-students-living-foster-care
Cole, Susan, Anne Eisner, Michael Gregory, and Joel Ristuccia. Helping Traumatized Children Learn, Volume 2: Creating and Advocating for Trauma-Sensitive Schools. Massachusetts Advocates for Children, 2013. https://traumasensitiveschools.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/HTCL-Vol-2-Creating-and-Advocating-for-TSS.pdf
Dajevskis, Erika, Mary Ann Cappiello, and Patricia Crain de Galarce. "Therapy by the Book." School Library Journal (October 25, 2016). https://www.slj.com/?detailStory=therapy-by-the-book
Ford, Anne. "Toward a Trauma-Informed Model." American Libraries (June 3, 2019). https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2019/06/03/toward-trauma-informed-model/
Gardner, Melissa E. "Trauma Sensitivity in the School Library." Knowledge Quest 47, no. 5 (May/June 2019). https://knowledgequest.aasl.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/KNOW_47_5_OE_Trauma.pdf
Venet, Alex Shevrin. "The Evolution of the Trauma-Informed School." Edutopia (September 13, 2019). https://www.edutopia.org/article/evolution-trauma-informed-school
"Toolkits, Bibliographies & Fact Sheets Adverse Childhood Experiences". Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/preventing/preventionmonth/resources/ace/
National Child Traumatic Stress Network. "Child Trauma Toolkit for Educators." https://www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/resources//child_trauma_toolkit_educators.pdf
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative. https://www.samhsa.gov/child-trauma
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. "Resources for Schools to Help Students Affected by Trauma Learn." http://www.traumainformedcareproject.org/resources/bibliography%20of%20resources%20for%20schools%20to%20be%20trauma%20informed.pdf