What I wish they taught me in GLAM school about how to be happier…

The most useless thing I learnt in GLAM school was how to construct a thesaurus and the most useful was a unit we did on change management. This included recommendations on how to help staff manage their mental health and well-being in times of organisational change.

GLAM school was almost ten years ago for me. I hope it has evolved since then. Here’s what I would like to have been taught:


  1. A second language and an understanding of Indigenous languages: I read recently that learning a second language stimulates a part of your brain that leads to an increased sense of happiness and achievement. I think learning a second language is vital to building cultural competency. Having a knowledge of the local Indigenous languages in your area can also help you encourage your library to engage more with Indigenous communities, for example, by implementing dual language signage, naming of meeting rooms etc.
  2. Coding and open data: I’ve also read that creativity and making things increases your happiness levels. I wish I had been taught how to use datasets and how to code in GLAM school. I would like to contribute to LGBTQ open data creations around libraries and the LGBTQ population but I didn’t learn how to use open data in GLAM school and it’s not something I’ve had the opportunity to learn on the job either.
  3. Resilience strategies: Happiness guru, Martin Seligman can be problematic, however, he did introduce the idea that resilience is a core component of happiness. In professions that are constantly changing and where jobs can be few and far between, resilience is a key survival tactic. Strategies I’ve now learnt for building resilience include sharing anxieties with friends to gain a more realistic perspective, reframing negative experiences as learning opportunities, reading widely about happiness strategies, focusing on what Seligman calls your ‘signature strengths’ and using mood tracker apps to monitor your thoughts, feelings and  also your accomplishments over time.

I think GLAM school should prepare us both practically and emotionally for life in the GLAM sector. It should encourage us to be lifelong learners who are constantly engaged in professional development but also are emotionally intelligent and able to communicate effectively with our clients and colleagues.