Healthy computing resources

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Graphic of proper computing setup.

One of the most common physical threats to people working in the information professions is computer-related repetitive strain injury. Unfortunately, many people only change poor computing practices after they have already become injured.  Healthy computing is an important component of professional development, success, and overall health.

The following is a list of useful Web and Inforum resources on the topic.  We hope this helps information professionals to educate themselves, and to take proactive steps towards the prevention and management of repetitive strain injuries.

Selected Web resources

CANOSH: Canada's National Occupational Health & Safety Website
Maintained by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, this site contains articles, alerts and bulletins, statistics, and workplace training information. It also includes a comprehensive Internet directory of workplace health and safety information.

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety – OSH Answers
This section of the CCOHS web site contains very useful information and diagrams on office ergonomics, back safety, repetitive motion injuries and preventative practices.

Cornell University Ergonomics Web (CUErgo) – Ergonomics Information
This site includes information on topics such as proper computer workstation set-up, how to choose ergonomic chairs and other products, considerations for left-handers, and back care issues.

Deborah Quilter's
Ms. Quilter, a well-known RSI author, educator and consultant, maintains this site of useful information, including checklists on the warning signs of RSI, risk factors, and prevention strategies. Some of her books are available as well (see the Inforum Books section.)

Harvard RSI Action Home Page
This site is maintained by the Harvard RSI Action student group at Harvard University.  It contains highly useful information about preventative measures, the warning signs of RSIs, and treatment approaches. Site disclaimer: information on this website is student-originated, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.

Laptop Ergonomics
Important tips from the Gannett Health Institute at Cornell University.  Laptops are not ergonomically designed, and given that more and more people are using laptops as their primary computing device, applying the advice here is imperative for health.  See also Ergonomic Tips for Laptop Users from UC Berkeley's Ergonomics Program for Faculty and Staff.

MedlinePlus:  Ergonomics
Excellent compilation of information sources from the National Library of Medicine on proper set-up and use of computer workstations, journal articles, law and policy, clinical trials, and advice on other things that are ergonomically problematic (using a briefcase, a purse, suitcases, and backpacks).

Microsoft Healthy Computing
Included in this informative website is an illustrated guide (easy-to-miss link on the bottom left of the page) on healthy posture and practices, and computing workplace wellness tips, and the latest Microsoft ergonomic products available on the market.

MIT Adaptive Technology Information Center (ATIC)
This site provides a good overview of repetitive strain injuries and information on prevention, causes, and proper workstation set-up. Especially useful is a section that includes clear diagrams of suggested stretching exercises to do at your desk.

The Typing Injury FAQ
This educational site provides information about RSIs, as well as a wide range of useful information on how to deal with injury risks and symptoms. There are also a number of links to low-cost or free downloadable software that reminds you to take sufficient computing breaks.

Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. – “Repetitive Strain Injury.”
As an open-content encyclopedia, this website can be edited by anyone. Keeping this in mind, it is still a good resource for a quick and easy-to-understand definition and overview of repetitive strain injuries and treatment options.

Books & articles


Bertolini, R. (1990). Carpal tunnel syndrome: A summary of the occupational health concern. Hamilton: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. Find it in print.

Butler, S. J. (1995). Conquering carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive strain injuries: A self-care program. Berwyn, PA: Advanced Press. Find it in print.

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. (2003). Section IV: Ergonomic concerns in the library workplace. In CCOHS, Health and safety guide for libraries (pp. 45-88). Hamilton: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. Find it in print.

Godnig, E. G., & Hacunda, J. S. (1990). Computers and visual stress: How to enhance visual comfort while using computers. Charlestown, RI: Seacoast Information Services. Find it in print.

Harwin, R., & Haynes, C. (1992). Healthy computing: Risks and remedies every computer-user needs to know. New York: Amacom. Find it in print.

Lang, A. (Ed.). (1994). Keyboard grief: Coping with computer-caused injuries. Toronto: The Globe and Mail. Find it in print.

Pascarelli, E. F., & Quilter, D. (1994). Repetitive strain injury: A computer user's guide. New York: J. Wiley. Find it in print.

Quilter, D. (1998). The repetitive strain injury recovery book. New York: Walker & Co. Find it in print.

Schofield-Bodt, C. K. (2000). The new library demands a closer look at ergonomics. In P. Ensor (Ed.), The cybrarian's manual, Ed. 2 (pp. 24–32). Chicago: American Library Association. Find it in print.

Sellers, D. (1995). 25 steps to safe computing. Berkeley, CA: Peachpit Press. Find it in print.

Stigliani, J. (1995). The computer user's survival guide. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly & Assoc. Find it in print.

University of Toronto -- Office of Environmental Health & Safety. (1998). Office smarts: Health, safety and ergonomics for the office. Toronto: University of Toronto. Find it in print.

Vasi, J. (1998). Computer ergonomics for library staff and users. In C. LaGuardia (Ed.), Recreating the academic library: Breaking virtual ground (pp. 107–120). New York: Neal Schuman. Find it in print.

Selected articles & documents:

Amba, S. (1998). Ergonomic factors and library automation. Information Studies 4(1), 33-40.

Atencio, R. (1996). Eyestrain: The number one complaint of computer users. Computers in Libraries 16(8), 40–43.

Bertuca, D. J. (2001). Letting go of the mouse: Using alternative computer input devices to improve productivity and reduce injury. OCLC Systems & Services 17(2), 79-83.

Butler, S. J. (1997). Common-sense ergonomics (Or, what you don't do can hurt you!). Computers In Libraries 17(8), 35–37.

Corlett, E. N. Sitting on seats, working all day. Ergonomics in Design 15(1), 25-27.

De Stricker, U. (1997). Carpal tunnel and me: Ergonomic advice the hard way. Searcher 5(9), 8-10.

Egghe, L. (1996). The amount of actions needed for shelving and reshelving. Library Management 17(1), 18-24.

Gehner, J. (2004). Repetitive strain injuries, ergonomic regulation, and catalogers. Progressive Librarian 23, 1-9.

Goldsborough, R. (2004). Keeping your keyboard and mouse from killing you. Teacher Librarian 31(5), 41.

James, T., & Witt, P. L. (1999). Ergonomics in the library. North Carolina Libraries 57(3), 93-99.

Junion-Metz, G. (2006). Bad to the bone. School Library Journal 52(7), 22.

Kaehr, R. E. (2008). What do meatpackers and librarians have in common? Library related injuries and possible solutions. Teacher Librarian 36(2), 39-42.

Keiser, B. E. (2004). Safety first. Searcher 12(6), 21-25.

Kusack, J. M. (1990). The light at the end of the carpal tunnel. Library Journal 115(2), 56-59.

Lingle, V. (1998). Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) on the web. Health Care on the Internet 2(1), 43-55. (Full-text article available from the University of Toronto Libraries e-journal collection.)

Mahalakshmi K., & Sornam, S. A. (2011). Ergonomics and techno stress among library professionals of engineering colleges of Anna University. Singapore Journal of Library & Information Management 40, 89-102.

Murray, P. (2006). Health and safety in libraries. incite 27(11), 10.

Nektarios K., & Xenos, M. (2011). A study on how usability flaws in GUI design increase mouse movements and consequently may affect users' health. Behaviour & Information Technology 30(3), 425-436.

Richardson, P., & Larsen, J. (1997). Repetitive strain injuries in the information age workplace. Human Resource Management 36(4), 377–384.

Robertson, G. (1998). Our vision of things: Basic eye care for librarians. Feliciter 44(4), 26-28.

Seckman, C. (2008). Ergonomics and indexing. Key Words 16(4), 121-123.

State Compensation Insurance Fund. ErgoMatters: Library Ergonomics. Available online.

Switzer, T. R. (1995). Ergonomics: An ounce of prevention. College & Research Libraries News 5, pp. 314.

Szunejko, N. H. (2000). Managing repetitive strain injuries in bibliographic services departments. Technical Services Quarterly 18(1), 33–45.

Tan, W. (1996). Caution! Library work can be hazardous to health! Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association 3(4), 393-398.

Thornton, J. K. (1997). Carpal tunnel syndrome in ARL libraries. College & Research Libraries 58(1), 9-18.

Thornton, J. K. (1996). Coping with carpal tunnel syndrome in the library [at Texas A & M]. Texas Library Journal 72, 90-93.

Turchin, Curtis. (1992). Taking action against job-related injury. Information Systems Management 9(3), pp. 75.

Wright, C., & Friend, L. (1992). Ergonomics for online searchers. Online 16(3), 13-27.

Compiled by Nalini K. Singh; last updated August 2014