Our October Instructor Spotlights not one but two LYRASIS instructors, Lauren Comito and Christian Zabriskie. They are teaching Trauma in the Workplace on October 12. Lauren is currently a Neighborhood Library Supervisor at Brooklyn Public Library and Executive Director of Urban Librarians Unite, a national 501c3 not for profit focused on providing training, advocacy, and support for front-line library staff working in large urban systems. Christian is the Executive Director of the Onondaga County Public Libraries and the Founder and board member of Urban Librarians Unite. He has worked in urban public libraries for nearly twenty years and has been a circ supervisor, children’s librarian, YA librarian, reference librarian, cataloger, and administrator.

Let's learn a little more about them and their work.

1. How did you two meet and can you tell us what inspired you to create the class and what can attendees expect to learn? 

We met at the new librarian’s orientation at Queens library in 2007! Our partnership really formed during a huge round of budget cuts in NYC which saw hundreds of library workers get provisional pink slips. It’s been a great partnership forged in crisis after crisis ever since.

2.After taking the class, how can students pass on what they have learned and is there a resource or essential resources that they can use to share with their communities and/or stay connected?

We would love it if people read and shared the Trauma Study report. Being able to identify the impacts our work has on us and see that there are potential solutions to mitigate those impacts is the first step to building a healthier, more supportive profession.

Christian would particularly like to invite other library directors to look at this stuff as a part of modern leadership responsibilities. We are trying to help people to develop skills in Trauma Informed Leadership in libraries and that is going to be such an important part of getting acceptance for this work in the field. A lot of front line workers are well aware of the need for this kind of training and information but having it come down from the top is going to be an important part of making it part of our professional culture.

The study is a great resource of course and people can access it for free here. There is also a lot of our raw data available there in case people want to delve deeper into a given subject or need supporting materials to bring to their leadership, colleagues, or organization.

3. Tell us more about Urban Librarians Unite and how one gets involved?

Urban Librarians Unite is an independent professional organization focusing on front line library workers in urban centers. We were founded in NYC and are still based there but over the last couple of years we have been able to do a lot more work on a national level in different cities and states. One great thing about being a small organization with a lot of great supporters and contacts is that we can really chase any issue we feel strongly about. We have a great conference, have done a ton of work with children in migrant detention, are huge library advocates, and have done disaster response work after Hurricane Sandy. We are not a membership organization so there are no fees or dues, we like working with people who show up, are creative, and believe in our communities and colleagues. We are always looking for new voices and new ideas. If you have an idea for ULU write it up! We might love it and be able to run with it.

4. For fun, what is your favorite podcast, book, tv series, or on rotation music wise at your home?

Lauren - Right now? I have been repeatedly watching the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice. It’s like a comfort watch 🙂

For Christian, October is horror movie month and I will watch nothing else until Halloween. This year I am looking at American Schlock, it’s deliciously awful.

On a serious note, Trauma is hard to talk about and even harder to work through. We appreciate the time, consideration, and care Lauren and Christian do to talk and teach about Trauma.

Photo Credit: Kristen Reimer/Photomuse