Caring means that even if things don’t work out you trust that people are trying and you’re committed to keep trying. This caring ethos was put into place in this library.
During the pandemic the library helped local businesses by spending their programming money on gift certificates to local places as prizes for the book club. Then they promoted the business during that time at the library.
In turn, the town has been very supportive of the library, inviting the library to participate in civic events and even helping to mark walking paths with paint when the library has done walking programs in the past. Holly Cullotan described it as a “boots on the ground library.”
Given this ethos of caring, the library staff also have a very fluid mindset. If a partnership doesn’t work out, it’s okay, it just may not be the right time. They don’t assume the partner failed or let them down, they just assumed it wasn’t the right time.
Library staff try to go in with a listening ear, asking what the community needs first.
They also use their unique life experiences to find novel partnership opportunities. For instance Melanie Coombs, Adult Services Librarian, moved to town in order to care for an aging parent. This background makes her uniquely able to see how the town is set up for seniors and where the gaps are in services, which in turn led her to become actively involved in an Age-Friendly Biddeford Community Coalition.
The library got involved in physical survey of the community to see how walkable it is for seniors, and the library now supports seniors to walk to the library, including providing walking maps. The library also got a grant for memory care programs. The library got involved in Age-Friendly Biddeford by simply reaching out to them and joining them: Being interested and wanting to be involved. Other initiatives of Age-Friendly Biddeford include gathering buckets of sand to de-ice seniors driveways and securing free medical equipment. These are not all library programs, but because the library is an active member of the coalition the library is always involved in whatever Age Friendly Biddeford may be working towards.
The library has similarly been involved in a Healthy Main Street initiative and a Heart of Biddeford downtown development initiative.
Deanna McNamara is the worksite wellness coordinator for the library. She is a certified worksite wellness coordinator and she encourages staff to walk on their lunch break. She wanted staff to get out and walk, which led her to the Healthy Main Street coalition. They put in a 7-minute workout station in a park. As the Youth Services librarian, McNamara tries to focus on the whole family because modeling healthy behavior is important for the parents she feels.
Since she started at the library, Melanie has been involved with health initiatives. She credits her colleague Deana for getting her involved. Melanie is an active hiker and they got involved in mapping walking routes in the town and working on grants on staff wellness – get weight loss challenge and bought an Instapot for the library.
By being involved and caring for one another, the library creates a culture of health both within its worksite and also finds ways to get involved in creating cultures of health out in the community.