Community members learn to cook at the Dee Brown Library. Image courtesy Rosslynn Elliott, Creative Writer, Marketing & Resource Development staff member at the Library System.

More and more public libraries have committed to supporting healthy living in collaboration with partners in their communities. The Free Library of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, states that is is committed “to offer free, accessible cooking, physical activity, gardening and mindfulness programming at neighborhood libraries.” Since 2016, Let’s Move in Libraries has helped public librarians make and keep these commitments by bringing people together, sharing program ideas, and inspiring community partnerships, like the one the Free Library of Philadelphia has with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention. Our overall message is Let’s get healthy, together!

Today, we are excited to announce a permanent expansion in the scope of Let’s Move in Libraries. Our project was inspired by Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative, which focused on supporting Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) among Americans. Mrs. Obama worked to increase physical activity and nutrition through museums, with the support of the U.S. Institute of Museum & Library Services. We will now align Let’s Move in Libraries even closer to Mrs. Obama’s original vision by henceforth supporting both physical activity and food based programming and services in public libraries. More information on this expansion and the ideas behind it can be found in our revised About Page. We would love your feedback at any point! Contact us and engage us on social media. We’re on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and YouTube.

Harlem Wilson, left, is Assistant Branch Manager of the Dee Brown Library, Central Arkansas Library System. He teaches a Saturday morning fitness class at the library

As part of this shift, our featured images this month comes from the Central Arkansas Library System’s Dee Brown Library. There, library staff have offered a variety of Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) programs for all ages, including a Saturday workout led by the assistant branch manager, walking clubs in the park behind the library, and cooking classes led by a partner in the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. Learn all about these programs and partnerships in the article “A Shared Journey to Better Health at the Dee Brown Library” on the library’s website.

As we expand Let’s Move in Libraries, we remain committed to supporting engaging, immersive programming. Our focus will continue to be on hands-on, life-changing experiences that increase our ability to support community health. We are excited to open this new chapter in our journey! In the coming months, we will be featuring new program ideas focused on healthy eating, including things related to seed sharing, gardening, Charlie Carts and pop-up in-house and outreach cooking classes, and much, much more! We can’t wait to get started.

We will continue to support movement-based programming. That remains our focus and we concur with the World Health Organization that we are living in the midst of a worldwide Pandemic of Physical Inactivity with far-ranging social, physical, and mental health implications. In the midst of this pandemic, everyone is asked to help out to get our communities moving. In October 2018, the director-general of the World Health Organization issued a press release to all corners of the world. In it, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke in no uncertain terms about the importance of all sectors of society stepping up to increase physical activity:

We must get the world moving. Increasing physical activity is not an issue that can be solved solely by the education sector, or the transport sector: actions are needed by all sectors. Our job is to create a world that will help our children to be active and make cities easier for people to walk and cycle.”

Even as we expand outward, our fundamental commitment is to supporting public libraries interested in working with community partners to answer this call to action.

New look to the website

As part of this expansion, we’ve been doing some renovations of our website. We invite you to take a look around! We’ve added a new webpage with five ideas on how to get started, and we’ve completely revamped our Stories page. Based on the feedback you’ve given us, we know that public librarians have many stories of success to share, and we want to help you share your story to inspire others! On the new Stories page, we have a form that you can fill out at any point to share your healthy living at the library story. We’re hoping this new feature will make it easier to continually add new, inspirational content to the website!

The expansion of Let’s Move in Libraries is supported by investment from Impact Through Innovation (ITI) an initiative of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro School of Education (SOE) that serves the SOE’s core purpose of changing lives through advancing access to life’s opportunities. ITI seeks to make faculty and students change agents by promoting inventive solutions to the practical challenges faced by educational institutions, the individuals they serve, and the organizations with which they partner. Impact Through Innovation works to inspire faculty and students in the creation of work that is truly transformative in individuals’ education and for the betterment of society. Visit their site here to learn more.

We invite your feedback to these changes. Drop us a line at any point!

Resources for programming during COVID-19
Our past two newsletter have focused on how public librarians adapted their programs and services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Take a look at our April 2020 and May 2020 newsletters for ideas focused on programs we can do over the internet and also safely outdoors. We’ve also been actively sharing resources on our social media channels: Follow (and share with) Let’s Move in Libraries on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and YouTube.

What virtual or outdoor programming have you been doing during these difficult times? Tag us on social media, share with us over email, or contact us through the website to let us know. We’d love to hear what you are trying.

We also recommend utilizing the free continuing education opportunities being made available by the U.S. National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM). Anyone can create an NNLM account and sign up to get notified when new classes are scheduled. You can also sign up for a monthly newsletter for public libraries that communicates about upcoming classes and other timely resources. Upcoming classes include:

Library responses to COVID-19: Impacts on ongoing low-morale experiences
Thursday, June 11, 2020, 11:00am – 12:00pm CT

Providing Library Senior Services in a COVID-19 World
Wednesday, June 17, 2020 11:00am – 12:00pm CT
Fostering Mutuality: How One Library Prepared for the Opioid Crisis
Tuesday, July 14, 2020 11:00am – 12:00pm CT
From Beyond our Borders: Providing Multilingual and Multicultural Health Information (one hour version)
Jun 2, 2020
2:00PM – 3:00PM ET
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!

Before the COVID-19 Pandemic, we had been featuring a different program idea each month, including music and movement, hands-on gardeningchair-based exercises, and StoryWalk(R). Check these out! We’ll be back with more featured programs in future newsletters.

Follow (and share with) Let’s Move in Libraries on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and YouTube to stay up-to-date with what public libraries around the world do to get their communities moving. Sign up for our newsletter to get monthly news delivered right to your inbox.

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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.