When you think of health programs in public libraries, you probably think of people. But public health includes the environments in which we live, which includes the animals around us. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an entire website devoted to Healthy Pets, Healthy People, and this is the topic we will explore in this month’s blog.
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University libraries can't be all work, all the time. In fact, when I entered the University of Tennessee's Hodges Library, one of the first things I saw was a poster advertising a monthly game night in the library. This program, which started in spring 2019, has become hugely popular, with some nights attracting more than 100 students.
Nonprofits are everywhere. Wherever you are located, it's likely that there are numerous nonprofit organizations at work in your community that you've never even heard of. In 2009, the Hayward (Calif.) Public Library merged with another city department and took on the city's community grants program. They found that in this city of 150,000 there are over 2,000 nonprofit organizations!
Together, Area Agencies on Aging and Councils on Aging constitute the public infrastructure designed to support America’s older adults. As such, they are natural partners for public libraries seeking to develop programs that lead communities “on the path to healthy aging,” as the ALA Health Literacy Toolkit puts it.
In September, I had the opportunity to attend both the annual Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) and the biennial Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) conferences. For me, the major take-away from both events is that libraries can help each other develop programs that address food insecurity.
The Cooperative Extension System, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, exists to “encourage healthful lifestyles” by providing “non-formal education and learning activities to people throughout the country.” It emerged hand-in-hand with the land-grant university system and, over time, evolved from a focus on agricultural education in rural areas (4-H is part of the extension system) to a broader focus on health and food in both urban and rural parts of the country.
New research by a San Jose State University scholar finds that most health programs offered by a major U.S. public library system are developed through community partnerships. San Jose Public Library not only works with partners to develop programs offered at the library, they also participate in regional health campaigns. Keep reading to learn how they do it, and to get inspired to try something new at your library!
According to America Walks, “good health is not the only benefit of walking. In fact, there is a broad range of individual and community benefits that accrue when people walk more often and when communities are designed to make walking safe, enjoyable and convenient.” The benefits include safe neighborhoods, healthy communities, social equity, environmental sustainability and even improved economies.
As libraries become centers of community-based lifelong learning, they seek more opportunities to enhance access to natural spaces located in the communities they serve. The nonprofit Children & Nature Network (C&NN) helps librarians find the partners and resources they need to understand how and why to connect children and families to nature. C&NN also helps potential partners understand the impacts that can derive from working with libraries.