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 Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, 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.