The March 2023 newsletter of Let’s Move in Libraries includes:

  • An upcoming webinar on Sharing Our Stories to Support Health & Wellness in Rural Communities
  • An inspiring story from Arizona
  • A funding opportunity from AARP Livable Communities
  • An invitation to our second Birds of a Feather online conversation
  • An opportunity to participate in a survey of “Non-Traditional Library Resources”
  • An interview with Thomas ‘Tom’ Cummiskey on his library’s support of Arthritis Foundation’s Walk with Ease initiative

This month’s featured images comes from Cultivating the Relationship-Driven Library, a free, online event we are organizing for the month of April to build momentum around the idea that the most impactful library health initiatives emerge from relationships among library workers and between library workers and community members.

We hope you’ll join us for this inspiring event!

Every Thursday throughout April we’ll be hosting a series of online conversations open to all, each featuring 2-4 librarians talking and sharing about their experiences working collaboratively with others to promote community health through everything from Yoga classes to community gardens.

This event will also feature the release of our Cultivating the Relationship-Driven Library Toolkit, one of the products of our three-year early career grant funded by the U.S. Institute of Museum & Library Services (Grant # RE-246336-OLS-20).

Go to the Cultivating the Relationship-Driven Library webpage to access the full calendar, including bios of participating librarians, as well as to access the registration page. The whole event is free and open to all. We hope to see you there!

An upcoming webinar on Sharing Our Stories to Support Health & Wellness in Rural Communities


Small and rural public libraries work with diverse partners to address a growing crisis – health and wellness in their communities. The pandemic made this crisis even more visible and acute.  

We invite you to join us in this interactive session on March 23, 2023. We will share what we learned in an IMLS-funded project that focused on health and wellness work by 17 small and rural public libraries in four states. 

We invite you to share your stories, ideas, and questions or concerns! How are small and rural public libraries working to support health and wellness in their communities? This is an opportunity to cultivate new connections that will help you: Identify resources, learn how to develop effective and creative partnerships and programs, build the capacity of your library, and expand technology use.  

This is a call to action. A call for us to come together to learn how to better support health and wellness in our workplaces and in our communities. 

We will bring to the table: 

  • A checklist you can use to get started forming new partnerships in your community to support health and wellness. 
  • We will share what we heard about health and wellness work from the public library workers and their partners we interviewed for our study. 
  • We will facilitate an open discussion that puts you in the driver’s seat. We anticipate a lively discussion about public library work and health and wellness and tackles these and other issues: What are our community needs and how do we identify them? We will brainstorm strategies, and share successes and frustrations of community health and wellness work by public libraries.


This session and especially your participation and contributions will help us toward our goal of identifying what is needed to develop a national infrastructure designed to support small and rural public libraries and library workers as essential partners in fostering community health and wellness. 


Presented by: Ellen Rubenstein, University of Oklahoma; Susan Burke, University of Oklahoma; Christine D’Arpa, Wayne State University; Noah Lenstra, University of North Caroline, Greensboro  

This project supported by the Institute of Museum & Library Services, Grant #LG-18-19-0015 

An inspiring story from Arizona

We want to thank Megan Carbiener, Outreach Supervisor & Programming Librarian, Apache Junction Public Library, Arizona, for sharing this story! Share your story to be featured in a future newsletter, and on our website, to inspire others and to shine a light on the amazing work you’re doing in your community!

“When the weather is cool in Arizona, we’re almost obligated to host events outside! With the success of our Books & Brews book club that we hosted at a local pub, we had the idea to start our Books & Views book club during the cooler months, January-March. Library staff partnered with Parks & Recreation for this book club that includes a short hike (with beautiful mountain scenery) and an informal book discussion. Everyone is welcome to share about a book they’ve enjoyed lately based off of that month’s genre. In the meantime, participants can walk the trail and learn all about the Sonoran Desert with our Parks & Rec experts. This collaboration has supported healthy living by encouraging people to exercise their body and mind through this active book club.

Although this book club has just started, we noticed participants broadening their horizons by learning about new books and new hiking trails. On our walk we saw wildlife, picked up trash, and talked about proper hydration. We hope to see this book club grow so we can encourage more and more people to pursue a fit lifestyle in both their minds and bodies.”

A funding opportunity from the AARP

The AARP Community Challenge provides small grants to fund quick-action projects that can help communities become more livable for people of all ages. In 2023, the AARP Community Challenge is accepting applications across three different grant opportunities, two of which are new this year. New grant opportunities in 2023 include opportunities to host walk audits and to start or enhance a community garden.

Deadline: Wednesday, March 15, 5 p.m. (ET). Start your application and learn more here.

Many, many public libraries have been funded through this grant in the past. You can see our list of libraries that received funding in 2021 in our August 2021 newsletter, and you can see the full list of libraries that have been funded by going to this map and searching for the word “library.” You can see what other libraries have done and get inspired to do your own application!

When you are searching the database, this image on the right is what you should see when you search for libraries. Use this list of past library projects to get inspired for your own applications. You can also access this list directly in this newsletter. Click the links below to see how these 31 libraries utilized AARP grants to make communities livable for people of all ages.

Avoca Public Library

Chelmsford Public Library

Chilton Public Library

Conyers Rockdale Library System

Dunedin Public Library

East Side Freedom Library

El Rito Library

Embudo Valley Library and Community Center

Emmett Public Library

Fern Ridge Public Library

Friends of the Thompson-Hickman Madison County Library

Georgetown Public Library

Gooding Public Library Foundation

Grand Forks Public Library

Hazen Public Library

La Crosse Public Library

Lemmon Public Library

McIntosh Memorial Library

Mesa County Public Library District dba Mesa County Libraries

North Hero Public Library

Providence Community Library

Raymond Village Library

Richland Library

The Friends of the Snohomish Library (FOL)

The Malvern-Hot Spring County Library

The Malvern-Hot Spring County Library

Upshur County Public Library

Vallecitos Community Center and Library

Valley of the Tetons Library

Waynesboro-Wayne County Library

West Chester Public Library

Wichita Public Library

In addition to being lead applicants on successful AARP Community Challenge grants, many other libraries have supported others in their applications. So go out and start a conversation with your community, you never know what will happen!

Start your application here.

An invitation to our second Birds of a Feather online conversation

During our Advisory Board conversations, we have discussed the critical importance of having a space for library workers to discuss and share what they’re doing and what they aspire to do.

To that end, beginning in February 2023, we started hosting monthly one-hour Birds of a Feather online conversation. The next event will be March 15.

What is a Birds of a Feather conversation? It’s an opportunity for individuals with shared interests to gather together (birds of a feather flock together) to share resources, inspire one another, and generally build community.

During our first event, nearly 30 individuals joined us online to discuss what they are currently doing, or hope to do, to positively impact access to food, physical activity, and related culinary and physical literacies, in their communities. Participants shared a range of exciting initiatives, as well as worked together to troubleshoot common problems – like how do you train people to safely ride a library book bike on city streets? Below are some of the resources shared:

Resources related to health literacy and healthcare

International Health Literacy Group – Librarian Interest Group (free to join!)

American Heart Association NYC and Queens Public Library start lending blood pressure monitoring kits at Far Rockaway Library

Health & Wellness Resources at Red Deer (Alberta) Public Library

Health Café: Slice of Health Basics, Red Deer Public Library – Primary Care Network contributed their expertise and the library contributed the digital expertise to make this event happen

Resources related to getting active outdoors

ParticipACTION Community Better Challenge

Every Kid Outdoors – Free access to national parks and other national sites for all Fourth Graders

State Library of North Carolina participation in NC Year of the Trail

Check out Colorado State Parks

Tents, sleeping bags, hammocks: Why Michigan ‘gear libraries’ lend out camping supplies

Children & Nature Network

1000 Hours Outside

Reading & Nature: The Powerhouse Combination of 1000 Hours Outside – webinar sponsored by KDLA Library Development Branch

Run Wild My Child

Resources related to food

Readers to Eaters

Collaborative Summer Library Program Libraries and Summer Food Guide

Resources related to book bikes

Press release on Louisville Free Public Library (Kentucky) Book Bike initiative

Red Deer Public Library Book Bike Twitter page

Resources related to Library of Things

Red Deer Public Library kits available for check-out – including play physical literacy backpacks, healing library, nature fun backpacks, and more

Outdoor games available for check out at the Pottsboro Area Public Library

100 Things to Do Before You’re 12 – list made by Generation Wild Colorado

Resources related to advocating for libraries as critical community partners

2018 Quotable Facts about Colorado Libraries

Every month Let’s Move in Libraries will host a drop-in virtual conversation in which participants will be invited to join break-out rooms to discuss with colleagues their shared interests. Every month the categories will change. The idea is “birds of a feather flock together.” Topics may include the following: StoryWalks, Senior Fitness, Gardening, Food Security, Health Equity, Rural Communities, Urban Communities, Partnership Ideas, and more. Have an idea you’d like to talk about with your colleagues, let us know. Event will be third Wednesday of the month, every month.

Get started and sign up here. We look forward to seeing you online on March 15!

An opportunity to participate in a survey of “Non-Traditional Library Resources”

A 2022-2023 New York Library Association Developing Leaders Program team has developed a survey of “Non-Traditional Library Resources,” including the Library of Things, Health Services, Sustainability resources (community gardens, bicycle repair stations, etc.), and much more! They are developing a toolkit to help library staff select and implement non-traditional resources and services in their libraries.

We encourage you to take a moment to fill out their survey, which they will use to develop their toolkit.

An interview with Thomas ‘Tom’ Cummiskey on his library’s support of Arthritis Foundation’s Walk with Ease initiative

In February, we learned that Thomas ‘Tom’ Cummiskey of Plymouth (Massachusetts) Public Library had participated in a webinar sponsored by the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors entitled “Engaging New Non-Traditional Delivery System Partners in Dissemination and Delivery of Arthritis-Appropriate, Evidence-Based Interventions (AAEBI)” – watch the webinar here. You can also learn more about this program in this blog post Tom wrote for the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

We were so inspired to see a public librarian featured by this national health organization, so we reached out to Tom to learn more about how he became a speaker to this organization. Here is his story!

Noah Lenstra: I was so impressed to see how you have shared your story of partnering with the Springfield College Department of Physical Therapy to promote Walk with Ease, an exercise program that can reduce pain and improve overall health, which was developed by the Arthritis Foundation. I see that you shared your story both with the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and with the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors’s Action on Arthritis initiative. Could you tell us why you see sharing your story as important? Given all the duties public librarians have, how do you set aside the time to share your story?

Tom: Fortunately, the Outreach Librarian position gives me roughly 22 hours a week for such activities.  The rest of the time I am staffing the Reference Desk.  (As a side note, the Outreach position was frozen due to town budgetary concerns, so I moved into a vacant position as Head of Reference.  We hope that the Outreach position will be staffed again by this fall.)  Michelle Eberle, consultant with the Mass Board of Library Commissioners, was in fact how I learned about this collaborative partnership with Springfield College in 2019.  The program was very easy to offer, operating as 98% passive.  The only point of contact with patrons was when they would come to the library to pick up their Walk with Ease books, which happened curbside during the pandemic.  Creating a flyer and promoting it on social media was simple. Once the program began, patrons did not need to interact with me.  Because it was during the pandemic, I chose to do my own follow-up sessions in January – March.  We met on Zoom for 30 minutes once a month, discussing how people were keeping up with their walking goals during the cold winter months.

Sharing the experience with others came as an invitation from Michelle, who reached out to libraries who had participated with the Springfield program.  In my emails with the program director, I learned that Plymouth did very well in recruiting patrons to participate.  Both Michelle and I thought it natural to highlight how easy it could be to offer a successful “passive” program for patrons that provided potential health and wellness benefits.

Noah: We are particularly eager to learn more about your participation in the the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors’s Action on Arthritis initiative webinar Engaging New Non-Traditional Delivery System Partners in Dissemination and Delivery of Arthritis-Appropriate, Evidence-Based Interventions (AAEBI). Could you tell us about how you got connected with this network, and what your experience was working with them on this webinar?

Tom: Springfield College had put me in contact with the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors’s Action on Arthritis initiative.  Before I knew it, I was on a Zoom panel of presenters, professionals in the field and librarians who had some involvement with Walk With Ease.  I enjoy these kinds of opportunities, so with questions provided in advance from the AAEBI staff, I simply responded during the Webinar.  They were great, and quite adept at organizing remote learning experiences, which made me feel more than comfortable participating on the panel.  I would gladly do something like this again, so that other librarians who work with aging populations can learn about this unique program from the Arthritis Foundation.

Noah: Do you have any advice for public librarians seeking to establish similar partnerships in their communities? Is there anything you’d do differently?

Tom: Springfield College is two plus hours away from Plymouth.  All of the communication with the Physical Therapy department was done via email or phone.  Books for patrons were mailed directly to us.  They were already connected with the Arthritis Foundation and easily answered any questions I had.  First, see if you can partner with an educational institution that has a PT department, or reach out to Springfield College, which acts as a Walk With Ease Hub. There’s nothing I would do differently.

Noah: In the webinar you mention the Massachusetts Community Health Network Areas (CHNA) and their mini-grants. Can you tell us anything more about your participation in this regional public health network? Do you have any advice to share with public librarians that may inspire them to seek out similar opportunities in health networks and health coalitions in their regions?

Tom: As a former Medical Librarian, my interest in Consumer Health prompted me to connect with our local Community Health Area Network, CHNA-23.  Partnering with this group of providers is a life-line to front line service providers in our region.  It’s helped me stay connected to my community, and they are fabulous people to work with.  I serve on the Health Literacy Subcommittee where we brainstorm and plan events throughout the year.  If your library does not have a Consumer Health component or emphasis, simply connect with a local hospital or Community Health Center who might help you get started.  The mini-grants offered by the CHNA vary in scope, but we applied for and received a $7,000 grant to establish a Consumer Health Collection, along with programming.  Unlike most grant applications, the CHNA’s application was easy to complete.  Partner, partner and partner!   If there are health related organizations nearby, see if they might have any grants via “community benefit programs” etc. 

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