Gardening at the library in small town New Hampshire: Photo and story from Mary Beth McQuaid, Youth Services Librarian, Ingalls Memorial Library, in Rindge, New Hampshire (pop 6,200). Learn more on our gardening program page.

Welcome to the January 2020 newsletter of Let’s Move in Libraries. This is the third issue in the new format of our monthly newsletters. Each month we feature a different program idea, and call on YOU to help us build our collective capacity to offer these program in our libraries. Last month we highlight chair-based exercises. The month before we highlighted StoryWalk(R) programming.

Based on research Let’s Move in Libraries conducted in Spring 2017, 246 public libraries in the U.S. and Canada have already offered outdoor, immersive, hands-on gardening programs: Programs in which community members themselves garden. Even more have joined in since then! Has your library ever offered hands-on gardening programs? Let us know by using this form! This month we call on you to help us build up this Program Idea. At the end of the month, your feedback will be incorporated into our Gardening Program Idea page, where it will remain accessible to other librarians. Now is the perfect time to be planning gardening programs for the Spring, Summer, and Fall!

How can I get started with Gardening Programs?

Not sure how to get started with this program? Take a look at our Program Idea page. We’ve called on our Advisory Board to help us build up this page, and we will be adding more content throughout the month, and beyond!

Our featured image this month comes from small town New Hampshire. There, in 2018, youth services librarian Mary Beth McQuaid, (Ingalls Memorial Library, Rindge, New Hampshire, population 6,200) started a Teen Garden program. With support from her director, Donna Straitiff, they began a garden! According to Mary Beth, “It all came together fairly quickly, and wasn’t too difficult! We spoke to the town about adding a raised-bed garden on our property, and they didn’t have a problem with it. We were able to get wood donated by a local business, soil was donated by a landscaping firm, and herbs and small plants were donated by a trustee. My dad, who is a town resident and is talented with woodworking, was able to build the garden itself.
Once it was built, my Teen Advisory Board (and siblings) came together to plant the garden! Every week or so we would weed it during meetings, and we would alternate who watered it. I also live locally, so I was able to run to the library and make sure it was watered if needed. It grew quickly and was successful- we had a quite a harvest of different herbs and flowers. It was a lot of fun, and seeing it grow was really satisfying!”

Share your experiences gardening at the library to inspire others to join in!

Chair-Based Exercises at the library

Last month, our featured program was chair-based exercise programs. We’ve incorporated your feedback into this revamped program page.

We also want to share this story sent to us from a librarian in Crofton, Maryland, which we found so inspiring. What a great example of how healthy living among library staff leads to healthy living programs: Take care of yourself and your staff, and they can in turn help take care of the broader community!

Sandy Owen writes: “I work for Anne Arundel County Public Library, Crofton Branch in Crofton, Maryland. I am a senior citizen, and have had issues with my back and neck because of sitting to long looking at a computer screen. After working with a chiropractor, for a couple of months, they suggested that I try yoga to help make my body more comfortable and to increase my range of motion. I visited a local yoga studio (Crofton Yoga) and signed up to take gentle and restorative classes twice a week. This gentle yoga helped me a lot and now I am really ‘hooked.’ I developed friendships with some of the yoga instructors and decided to ask them if we could develop a program where we offered a chair yoga class here at the library three or four times a year.

“The rest is history! These instructors love coming here because they love the library and it is a great way for them to meet new potential clients. This program has branched out to include an Animal Yoga Storytime for preschoolers, with another of their instructors, who also happens to be a Media Specialist in one of the local schools. This to me is a great partnership, which helps to introduce our patrons to the benefits of yoga.”

We could not agree more, Sandy! Thanks so much for sharing your story! Learn how to bring this program to your library on our Chair-Based Exercise Program Idea Page.

We also want to share this story sent to us from Elkhorn, Wisconsin. Terri Dellamaria writes: “I am a certified group fitness instructor and indoor cycling instructor. I am looking forward to holding an hour long Line Dance Class on February 15th at Matheson Memorial Library for adults.  I typically work in the Youth Services area, and also offered fitness programs throughout the Winter months called ‘Winter Wigglers.’ But, I am really looking forward to the adult program in February! We will be doing the Cupid Shuffle, Electric Slide, Cha Cha Slide and Cowboy Hustle. I have a few more I may teach depending on the group.” Thanks for sharing, Terri!!

You are always invited to reach out to us to share news from your libraries. We love hearing from you!

Join our community!

During the October 2019 meetings of our Advisory Groups, we decided to re-launch our online group on Facebook. We invite you to join the 100+ librarians already in the group. This is YOUR SPACE to ask questions, get advice, share successes and challenges, and generally get the support you need to make a difference in your community.

Consider joining us, and if you have a question about chair-based, StoryWalk(r), or gardening, or any other program that includes movement and physical activity, go ahead and ask it in this group!

Use the Let’s Move in Libraries logo: A free resource!

Did you know that our logo is completely, 100% free to use? It’s true! You can download it and get started here. If you have any questions, just reach out to us! All that we ask is that you share back how you use the logo: Banners, T-Shirts, Flyers, Decals, Bumper Stickers, Coasters, the sky is the limit!

News from Let’s Move in Libraries 

Let’s Move in Libraries Director Noah Lenstra will at the Public Library Association conference at the end of February. Noah will present “Healthy Living at the Library,” in the Exhibit Hall at the Niche Academy Booth. Join him for a 30 minute conversation on this topic, and learn more about his book on this topic, being published by Libraries Unlimited in April 2020.

Later, in June, Noah will be at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in Chicago. He will be leading a session sponsored by the ALA’s Allied Professional Association on the topic of how to “Take Care of Yourself, Take Care of Your Community: How Supporting Healthy Living Among Library Staff Builds Healthy Communities.” Even if you’re unable to make these presentations, we’d love to hear from you! Contact us and we’ll be able to try to meet you during these events.

What are you up to? Let us know!


We’d like to hear, and share, how you move in your library!! Tag us on social media or email news directly through our website. We’d love to hear from you!

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Subscribe to the monthly Let’s Move in Libraries newsletter for monthly editions of success stories, educational opportunities, and food for thought that will deepen the impact of movement-based programs and services in public libraries. The Let’s Move in Libraries project focuses on how public libraries create opportunities for individuals of all ages and abilities to engage in healthy physical activity.