Welcome to the May 2020 edition of the newsletter of Let’s Move in Libraries. In this newsletter we highlight some of the ways public libraries have continued adapting their services and programs to keep us healthy and moving during the COVID-19 Crisis. Stay home, and stay safe!

Our featured image comes from Floyd County, Indiana. Since closing to the public this public library has been combining the two programming strategies featured in this newsletter: 1) Virtual Programming and 2) Outdoor Installations. They added a new “page” to their StoryWalk(R) reminding patrons that they continue to have programs online. Learn more in the blog post “Capitalize on your StoryWalk During Social Distancing.” 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 keep their communities healthy, in good times and bad. And reminder to tag us in your posts to share your story!

Virtual Programming: Your Library At Home

As we all know by now, libraries have transitioned many of their face-to-face programs into virtual programs. Did you know that you can do virtual healthy living programs? Here are a few resources and ideas to get started.

The U.S. National Network of Libraries of Medicine asks “Are you interested in virtual storytimes, dance parties, and other wellness activities for ages 0-6?” If you answered “yes,” they have a webinar for you! On May 14, Katie Clausen will present “Virtual Programs for Preschoolers: How to encourage wellness, movement & creativity” based on her experiences doing just that at Elgin, Illinois’s Gail Borden Public Library. Register here.

Their “Your Library at Home” initiative at the Gail Borden Public Library also features healthy living programs for all ages! On April 18 they published a video on “Mindfulness & Relaxation w/ Steve & Activate Elgin,” featuring simple movements you can do at home to stretch and relax.

And on April, 17, they published a Spanish language tutorial on how to dance the Bachata with Lupita Raygoza. At the end of class, Tina Viglucci shows how to use the library card to access free music, including bachata, through the Freegal digital music collection.

Check out their full virtual programming offerings at their website, and get inspired to try something new at your library!

Outdoor Programming: Social Distancing StoryWalks and more!

Earlier this month we published a blog post on the website of the National Recreation & Park Association on “Parks and Recreation and Libraries Working Together During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Below are a few excerpts on strategies public libraries use to support outdoor programming in parks. For more examples, check out the America Walks webinar featuring public libraries, recorded in mid-April.

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Across the country, librarians continue working with park and recreation professionals on StoryWalk® programming, which combines literacy and nature education by placing pages of storybooks along trails — typically in parks or along greenways. According to Anne Ferguson, who developed the idea at a public library in Vermont around 2007, a StoryWalk® is “an innovative and delightful way for children — and adults! — to enjoy reading and the outdoors at the same time.”

In Southhampton, Pennsylvania, the public library launched what it calls a “Story Stroll” in Tamanend Park in March. An ABC affiliate in Philadelphia reported on this new library service: “It has become particularly useful during this time of social distancing to avoid further spread of COVID-19. Families are bringing their children out to read at the park when they are otherwise stuck at home. No librarian guide is necessary, either. The outdoor atmosphere allows families to stay far away from each other and still enjoy the space.”

There are plans to keep the stroll active until the library reopens, refreshing the choice of book every Friday. Southampton Free Library recommends contacting your local library to find out about story walks near you. Libraries across the country continue to offer similar services in partnership with parks and recreation. Learn more in the blog post “How Public Libraries Are Helping Us Find Nature During the Crisis” published on the Children & Nature Network’s website.

In other communities, libraries and park and recreation professionals are finding other ways to work together to promote engagement in parks and green spaces during the pandemic. In Eastern Tennessee, the City of Elizabethton Parks and Recreation and Carter County Public Library teamed up to host a quarantine photo contest. Community members are encouraged to post photos of their favorite spaces while staying at home to the City of Elizabethton Parks and Recreation’s Facebook page.

Libraries and park and recreation professionals also team up to promote safe, physical distance walking. In High Point, North Carolina, with the support of an America Walks Community Change Grant, the library and park and recreation department announced the launch of their new “Urban Hikes” initiative on April 15. The two entities came together to map safe walking routes that begin at the library — many of which go to parks — and to encourage community members to use them. The library launched an “Urban Hikes Challenge” which asks people to complete five hikes and send selfies from the library and the hike destinations. Dozens of families have completed the challenge and you can see some examples on the library’s Facebook events page.

Elsewhere, in rural eastern North Carolina, the Farmville Public Library moved its annual Farmville Moves collaboration with Farmville Parks & Recreation into cyberspace. Through the new Farmville Moves at Home Program the library and park and recreation department are encouraging everyone, regardless of fitness level, to work towards better health and fitness by walking, jogging, running or participating in any form of exercise. There’s an added incentive to win gift cards to Play It Again Sports in their town and free entry into the Town of Farmville’s 6th annual 5K & Fun Run to be held in the fall.

Every spring in Farmville, the library and park and recreation department work together to inspire residents of this small town of 4,654 to get active and train together for a 5K. In past years, the library provided motivational literature and speakers, and the park and recreation department provided expert instruction in safe physical activity and route planning. The two agencies have now moved this collaboration online.

At the national level, the American Library Association has also helped public libraries do their part to keep their patrons connected to nature. On April 21, 2020, the American Library Association published “7 Ways to Celebrate Nature while Social Distancing,” focusing on simple things people can do in their backyards, neighborhoods and parks to celebrate Earth Day and stay engaged with greenspaces during the pandemic.

If you are not already working with your local parks and recreation agency on promoting outdoor programming, now is the perfect time to start! Reach out to your local parks and recreation agency and get the conversation started.

Continuing Education Opportunities and Project News

We also know that many librarians are thinking about taking advantage of continuing education opportunities during this pandemic. Here are some new resources we recommend.

On April 8, we led a free webinar through the Nebraska Library Commission’s NCompass Live on How to Add Movement to Library Programming. We focused on easy techniques you can use to add movement to programs for all ages. From a mini dance party between stories to instance recess for adults, regular ten minute activity breaks have been identified by researchers and policy makers as effective ways to advance public health. Get the information and inspiration you need to weave physical activity into your library in all kinds of ways! Watch the recording here.

We also know this is a critically important time for self-care. We recommend utilizing the resources of library director, educator, and researcher Jenn Carson to help make it through this pandemic in good health. On February 27, library director, yoga instructor, and author Jenn Carson presented Taking Care of Us: Inreach for Library Staff for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine webinar series. She shared how physical literacy is not just for patrons, it’s for all of us! Check out the recording to get inspired!

And then on April 23, Jenn presented again, this time through SirsiDynix, on how to Feel Good, Do Good: How Offering Physical Literacy Programs at your Library Can Change Your Community. She covered: Her triumphs and challenges getting these programs off the ground, a few self-care tips when implementing these programs, and How you can take these principles and create a new physical literacy program in your library. Watch this on demand webinar here!

We also continue outreach to other sectors at the national level. On Tuesday, June 9, Let’s Move in Libraries Director Noah Lenstra will join Fran Fisher of Geri-Fit, LLC, to present to the annual conference of the U.S. National Council on Aging during their virtual Age + Action Conference. Their session, “Partnering with Public Libraries to Offer Physical Activity Programs for Older Adults” features the results from the Geri-Fit at the Library project, in which 535 older adults took part in a 12-week Geri-Fit® video-led group strength training program consisting of 24 classes conducted twice a week from January-April 2019. We’ll let you know how it goes!

Other resources

Did you know our logo is free to use? It’s true! We just ask that you share back what you do with it. We want to thank Gloucester County Library in for using our logo in your Fall 2019 Wellness Series! Go to our website to download our logo and add it to your promotional materials. Just let us know how you use it! The easiest way is to tag us on social media.
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.
Let us know if there are other innovative things you’re doing that we haven’t featured! We want to shine a light on all the ways librarians are getting the word out on the power of movement and healthy living in library programming. You are always invited to reach out and share with us. Please also reminder to share with us any news on programs you may be offering. We always love hearing from you! Tag us on social media or email news directly through our website. We’d love to hear from you!

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.