Healthy Libraries and Healthy Communities

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Libraries have long supported patrons who want to improve their health by providing access to books on health-related topics, online medical databases such as PubMed, and even cookbooks that support healthy eating. Those core services continue today, but in response to local community needs, public libraries are also evolving by partnering with local parks to create StoryWalks™, offering Zumba classes, and establishing seed libraries so that patrons can grow their own food. Here is a collection of videos and examples from libraries around the United States that can help inspire new health programming ideas in your library!

Libraries Out Loud - Kansas City Public Library (MO)
A great profile of the Kansas City Public Library, where the staff is working with partners to build a healthy community. The video includes a highlight of their Zumba classes and seed library. "We kind of think of the library as a very quiet place and we come to change that on a weekly basis," Nicki Jones, Zumba instructor.

Storywalk in the Park - Stillwater Public Library (OK)
A great example of a StoryWalk™ created by the Stillwater Public Library. The first two stories that the library choose for the project focused on healthy living, including getting out and moving. The library was able to do this project with the support of a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Your Path to Our Health: Kit's Path - Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
"Kitchu (Kit) wakes up early each morning and leads a community-organized dance class in the parking lot under the library." This group relies on covered space available at the library to support dance classes year-round. The video features Kit as well as interviews with staff from Monterey Park Bruggemeyer Library (CA), on why these new programs are important and how they help the community.

Summer Stride: Find Your Park - San Francisco Public Library (CA)
uses the video to highligh the partnership between the library and National Park Service. The program brings people into National Parks for hiking and exploration. The Summer Stride program includes StoryWalks!

Library Fitness at Fort Saskatchewan Public Library! – Alberta, Canada
And just for fun, the staff at this library are having a great time getting in their exercise in the library.

Special thanks to Noah Lenstra at the Let’s Move in Libraries project for sharing these videos!

Photo credits
Images are screen shots from the linked YouTube videos.

1) Flatland, Libraries Out Loud, published July 11, 2017
2) San Francisco Public Library, At the Public Library, Summer Stride Find Your Park, published June 2, 2017