05 juin 2024 Blogs

Heartfelt connections: The human-animal bond and its impact

Animal Allies LibList examines animals’ significance in our lives

Derek Marshall, Director for Branch Libraries at Mississippi State University, discovered his passion for the profound connection between humans and animals while working as a librarian at the University's Veterinary Medicine School. As an animal lover, he was deeply moved by the unique environment, curriculum and the emotional needs of veterinary students. For example, the school had its own counseling program apart from the university counseling services to help students and faculty process the complex emotions that accompany treating creatures that can’t describe what hurts.

The school also has a chapter of Bully’s Bond – a student-led Human-Animal Bond group – that hosts various events and speakers investigating the influence of the human-animal bond on the health and wellbeing of humans and the animals they interact with, enriching both the academic and personal understandings of animal behavior.

Reflecting on these experiences Marhsall said, “It got me thinking about what’s out there for libraries to support these kinds of initiatives.”

Curating library resources that explore the role of animals in our lives

With his interest accelerated by his deep bonds with his own pets and expertise in collection development, Marshall began investigating the kinds of materials that an academic library could include in its collection to support learning and research about the human-animal connection. The result of his research is now available to all librarians via a new LibList from ProQuest, part of Clarivate, entitled Animal Allies.

Leigh Wright, MLIS and ProQuest Product Manager, selects topics for the budding LibList initiative, which enables librarians with expertise in niche or emerging topics to share lists of recommended ebooks with other librarians. She said, “We loved the idea of bringing the discussion around animals and their role in our lives to the fore, particularly as mental health issues escalate. The role animals play in improving mental health is huge.”

Indeed, research shows that pets provide emotional and social support, which helps buffer stress and promotes resilience. For example, pet owners tend to recover faster from stressful events than non-pet owners and even the simple act of petting an animal can reduce anxiety.

Both academic and public libraries are introducing pet therapy programs to help students and patrons deal with anxiety, decompress during stressful exam periods and encourage reading confidence.

Marshall’s list, which spans more than 60 titles, includes a rich selection of medical and psychological titles, but also steps beyond to help libraries tie the human-animal connection to a broad range of disciplines, including surprises like history and literature.

Why academic libraries need titles on the human-animal bond

The Animal Allies LibList provides a short-cut for academic libraries who want to bolster their resources on the human-animal connection with credible materials, enriching support of their institution’s:

    • Research and learning, from supporting degrees in psychology, veterinary science, biology and sociology to supporting the classroom with content that engages students
    • Interdisciplinary studies since the human-animal bond transcends disciplinary boundaries, spanning psychology, biology, anthropology, ethics and more
    • Counseling centers, health services, and wellness programs with content that inspires and connects the library to a wider network of collaborators
    • Community engagement with content that can support workshops, talks and events
    • Values with resources that address ethical dilemmas related to pet ownership, animal rights and conservation

Harnessing and sharing librarians’ collection curation expertise

LibLists are designed to foster collaboration, exchange knowledge and amplify diverse perspectives in the library community by sharing the collection development expertise of academic librarians. Developed by librarians with specialized expertise, the lists enable other librarians without the same expertise to confidently create collections that meet new university needs. Animal Allies is the third list from ProQuest, following Indigenising the Curriculum, curated by Yanti Ropeyarn, Senior Specialist, Indigenous Initiatives at the University of Technology Sydney, Australia, and Inclusivity in Healthcare, curated by Maria King, Subject Librarian, School of Health and Social Care Information Services, Edinburgh Napier University, UK.

Explore Animal Allies by logging into your preferred acquisitions platform and searching for LibLists under the Curated Topics sections on LibCentral, OASIS and Rialto.

We want to hear from you

Are you interested in creating a LibList? Reach out to your Product Sales Manager to ask how you can collaborate and share your expertise.