DECEMBER 2021 NEWSLETTER

The November 2021 newsletter of Let’s Move in Libraries includes:

  • A summary of StoryWalk® Week 2021
  • Preliminary findings from Summer Outside with the Library study
  • The launch of the HEAL at the Library webpage

This month’s featured image comes from Toledo, Ohio. The Toledo Lucas County Public Library shared this image with us and the Association of Bookmobile & Outreach Services (ABOS) for our first ever StoryWalk® Week celebration. Learn more about the library’s StoryWalk® programming and partnerships here.

StoryWalk® Week 2021

From November 15-19, 2021, we celebrated the inaugural StoryWalk® Week in collaboration with the Association of Bookmobile & Outreach Services (ABOS). In total we received nearly 500 submissions from almost the entire United States, as well as many international submissions.

Go to our StoryWalk® Week webpage to see all the submissions. Learn more about the StoryWalk® movement at our StoryWalk Program Resource Page.

We also want to Needham Free Public Library, Massachusetts, United States of America, for sharing with us this story about how they celebrated StoryWalk® Week:

On November 15th, during StoryWalk Week, the Children’s Department of the Needham Free Public Library and the community organization, Family ACCESS, held a scavenger hunt at the library’s StoryWalk at DeFazio Park. Children walked around the playground to read the StoryWalk book “I Lost My Bear” by Jules Feiffer.  They completed a scavenger hunt sheet as they read.

There have been community concerns about social & emotional development during COVID-19, and children not being able to see complete facial expressions on masked faces.  So the scavenger hunt asked  children to identify the emotions of the girl in the story based on her facial expression in certain illustrations. They were also asked to look for faces of a bear with different expressions. These were put on some pages by adding stickers with the bear faces.

Children returned the completed scavenger hunt page to receive a small stuffed teddy bear. They were also able to make a teddy bear paper bag puppet craft project. Adults received information about library programs and services as well as those available through Community ACCESS.

The activity encouraged early literacy, visual literacy, social emotional development, and gross motor skills. Furthermore, many families who came for the scavenger hunt stayed and used the playground.

The event promoted the StoryWalk and made the library, Community ACCESS, and the park more visible in the community. It strengthened the library’s partnerships.  More families became aware of services and programs available to them through this collaboration.

We love how this story illustrates how successful StoryWalk® initiatives are not merely library programs, they are community partnerships! Who are your library’s StoryWalk® partners? Let us know! We’d love to hear from you and share your story.

We also want to give a shout-out to all the libraries that used the #StoryWalkWeek hashtag on social media to share your participation! In Missouri, St. Louis County Library posted on Instagram during StoryWalk® Week that “Staff from the Natural Bridge Branch created a story walk at St. Vincent’s Park in honor of #StoryWalkWeek! Stop by and experience the story over the next couple of weeks.” The picture above and this link shows how library staff got involved in this celebration!

Did you miss StoryWalk® Week 2021? Not to worry! We’ll be celebrating again next year! We’ll be circulating calls to participate in Fall 2022!

Summer Outside with the Library study

Checkers on the lawn at the Waltham Public Library, Massachusetts. Image courtesy Emily Westa, Waltham Public Library, and the Massachusetts Library System.

During the month of September 2021, Let’s Move in Libraries in collaboration with Dr. Katie Campana of Kent State University circulated a survey on how public librarians took programming outside during Summer 2021.

This effort was inspired by the pioneering efforts of the Massachusetts Library System and their state-wide survey of outdoor spaces and programs in Massachusetts libraries. Learn more in their multi-part blog series on “Massachusetts Public Libraries Outdoors!” featuring engaging case studies and data from that state.

We are still analyzing the data, but we wanted to briefly share some of the study’s preliminary findings. If there are particular results you’d like to know about, reach out to us! We’d be happy to share other findings.

In total, 713 librarians filled out part of the survey, and 655 completed the entire survey. These 655 librarians represent 48 states of the U.S.A., and two Canadian provinces. Eleven percent of respondents classified themselves as urban, 37% as suburban, and 53% as rural. 93% of respondents said they offered “in-person programs in an outdoor location” during Summer 2021, and 75% said they offered “self-directed programs (including take-and-make kits) this past summer, 2021, where they encouraged patrons to engage with nature.”

The most commonly reported community partners that helped librarians offer these programs and services included: Parks & Recreation (43%), Friends of the Library (28%), Conservation or environmental organizations (25%), and local businesses (23%). 21% of respondents reported developing these programs and services without community partners. This fact illustrates that for most libraries, outdoor and nature-based programming emerges through community partnerships. It is not something that librarians do on their own.

In any case, nineteen (19) percent of all respondents said “Outdoor programming has historically been a regular part of our offerings,” 61% said “We offered it occasionally prior to the pandemic,” and 21% said “We started offering it during COVID-19.”

This finding illustrates how across the public library profession there is a lot of variety as it relates to this topic, with some doing programming outdoors for years, others doing it as an occasional offering, and still others just getting started.

Let’s Move in Libraries exists in part to help share information across and among these different levels of experience!

Looking to the future, 86% said they anticipate offering more outdoor programs and services in the future, 13 said they might but are not yet sure, and one (1) percent said they do not intend to offer these programs and services in the future.

As librarians prepare for this future, some are changing their outdoor spaces. 17% said that during the COVID-19 Pandemic they had done “renovations to their outdoor spaces” to make them more functional as spaces for programming, social interaction, and learning.

We are still analyzing this rich data-set! Stay tuned for more findings and reach out with questions or thoughts at any point!

HEAL (Healthy Eating and Active Living) at the Library website

In Summer 2020, the U.S. Institute of Museum & Library Services funded the HEAL (Healthy Eating and Active Living) at the Library project, led by Let’s Move in Libraries founder Dr. Noah Lenstra.

The website for the project is now live! There you will see some of the presentations and findings that have emerged from this project thus far.

In the future, we intend to add case studies of public librarians teaming up with their communities to support HEAL (Healthy Eating and Active Living) as well as a toolkit librarians can use to tap into the power of community partnerships to help support community health. Stay tuned for more!

Let us know your thoughts on this topic! We’d love to hear from you.

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