During this early career grant funded by the U.S. Institute of Museum & Library Services (Grant # RE-246336-OLS-20), the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s project team, led by Dr. Noah Lenstra, is performing an in-depth analysis of how public libraries can and do work with community partners to promote healthy communities around healthy eating and active living, or HEAL. The research team is currently performing case studies in 18 strategically chosen communities across 14 states to produce and disseminate an evidence-based, action-oriented model on how public libraries form, sustain, and leverage these community partnerships.

Read the case studies:

Laurel Public Library

McCracken County Public Library

Rutherford County Library System

Bigelow Free Public Library

Bethlehem Area Public Library

More case studies will be published here throughout 2022 and 2023!

In this project we seek to close the gap at the national level between public libraries and the multitude of partners with which they work to support community health.

Read about some of what we have found in:
How and Why to Team up with your local librarian published July 2021 on America Walks.
Why more public libraries are doubling as food distribution hubs published May 2021 on The Conversation.
Can Parks Leverage Libraries? published in the April 2021 Official Magazine of the National Recreation & Park Association.
Rules of the road: Partnering with public libraries for collective impact published March 2021 on Shareable.
Using StoryWalks to Bring Reading and Fun Downtown published March 2021 on Main Street America.

The project runs from August 2020 to June 2023.





August 2020 – Project Launch

February 2021 – Research presented as part of Midwestern Public Health Training Center’s Public Health and Public Libraries Toolkit. Watch the the presentation of “Pitching Public Health to Public Libraries: Finding Common Ground” presented with Scott Allen, Deputy Director of the Public Library Association, and listen to the podcast episode “Harnessing the Power of Public Libraries.”

March 2021 – Research presented at CHOICES: Celebrating Food, Health Equity, and Collaboration Conference. Download the presentation “Partner with your Public Library!

Research presented at University of Illinois Mini-Talks on Libraries, Literatures, and LiteraciesAccess the video-recording of “Closing the Gap: Public Health and Public Libraries.”

April 2021 – Research presented at Active Living Conference. Download the presentation “Public Libraries as Partners for Collective Impact.”

Research presented at North Carolina Recreation and Park Association’s The Works Conference. Download the presentation “How and why to team up with your local librarian.”

June 2021 – Completion of research manuscript “Public librarians as part of the HEAL Environment: How do partners perceive them?” currently being finalized for peer review

Research presented at Nature, Culture, and Human Health (NCH2) Network. Download the presentation “Libraries as Gateways to the Outdoors.”

Research presented at National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health Regional Partnership Meetings: Southwest and Midwest Regions. Download the presentation “Closing the Gap: Public Health and Public Libraries.” Watch the presentation here.

Research presented at Walk/Bike/Places 2021 Conference. Download the presentation “Inclusive, informed, impactful: Public libraries as partners on the route to recovery.”

July 2021 – Completion of 135 interviews with 75 public library workers and 60 public library partners on their experiences working together

September 2021 – Research presented at National Institutes’ of Health Virtual Summit on Food Insecurity, Neighborhood Food Environment, and Nutrition Health Disparities: State of the Science, with Nicole Peritore, Augusta University.

Research presented in CDC’s Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network (NOPREN) Research Series. Download slides.

Researched presented as part of panel discussion of “Supporting Healthy Minds and Bodies: Strategies for Building Resilience” at ALISE Conference.

October 2021 – Research presented at Association for Rural and Small Libraries in half-day workshop on how to “Team Up with Your Community”

Research on how to partner with Recreation and Park Agencies presented at the conferences of both the North Carolina Library Association and the North Carolina Recreation and Park Association.

Fall 2021 – Research presented at New Librarianship Symposia.

November 2021 – Invited keynote presentation at Umatilla County (Oregon) Special Library District on topic of  “Making a Difference in the Community’s Health”  Download presentation.

February 2022 – Research published in the Journal of Library Outreach and Engagement 

March 2022 – Research presented at the Society for Public Health Education Virtual Conference

March 2022 – Research presented at League of American Bicyclists Annual Summit. Watch presentation.

August 2022 – Community conversation convened by Nebraska Library Commission.


Pitching Public Health to Public Libraries: Finding Common Ground

DR. NOAH LENSTRA, MLSPrimary Investigator and Let's Move in Libraries founder
AMBER WILLIAMSONGraduate Research Assistant, August 2020-May 2021
MARTHA McGEHEEGraduate Research Assistant, August 2020-August 2021
BERNARD HALLGraduate Research Assistant, May 2021-August 2021
ABBIE WESTPHALENGraduate Research Assistant, August 2021-
ANDREW WARDGraduate Research Assistant, August 2021-
DIANE PALMIERIGraduate Research Assistant, October 2021-May 2022

HEAL at the Library is by Dr. Noah Lenstra, MLS, Assistant Professor of Library and Information Science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The project is actively supported by Graduate Research Assistants pursuing their Master’s of Library & Information Science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

The project is guided by an Advisory Board that includes:

Dr. Carolyn Cannuscio – Director of Research and Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Pennsylvania Center for Public Health Initiatives

Dr. Aaron Hipp – Associate Professor of Community Health and Sustainability at the North Carolina State University’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

Dr. Bharat Mehra – Professor, EBSCO Endowed Chair in Social Justice in the University of Alabama’s College of Communication & Information Sciences

Jessica Stroope – Research Associate in the Louisiana State University Cooperative Extension Service

Monica Lopez Magee – Director, Cities and Nature at Children & Nature Network

Kirsten (Kiri) Burcat – Consumer Health coordinator for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Region 1

Jenn Carson – Director of the L.P. Fisher Public Library (Woodstock, New Brunswick), author and expert on physical literacy in the public library

Kendra Morgan – OCLC/WebJunction Senior Program Manager and WebJunction lead on Public Libraries Respond to the Opioid Crisis with Their Communities project