The October 2021 newsletter of Let’s Move in Libraries includes:

  • How to participate in the inaugural StoryWalk(R) Week Celebration
  • Three stories of other ways librarians transform the outdoor built environment
  • Information on a forthcoming book on connecting nature to health
  • How to participate in our Active Early Learning Community of Practice
  • A new resource on how to increase Older Adult Mobility

This month’s featured image comes from Benton, Arkansas, where the Saline County Library is developing a Nature Play Space. Learn more about this new space below.

How to participate in the inaugural StoryWalk(R) Week Celebration

From November 15-19, 2021, we will be celebrating the inaugural StoryWalk(R) Week in collaboration with the Association of Bookmobile & Outreach Services (ABOS). During this week our social media will feature images and stories of library StoryWalk(R) programs from around the world! All are invited to participate.

To get started and for more information, go to this form prepared by ABOS, or get started with StoryWalk(R) programming and partnerships on our StoryWalk(R) resource page.

Three stories of librarians transforming the outdoor built environment

We want to thank all of you who completed our survey of outdoors or nature focused library programming offered during Summer 2021! We will be sharing what we found in future newsletters. This month we’re celebrating all the ways public librarians have been taking services outside. We want to give a big shout out the Massachusetts Library System. They recently published “Massachusetts Public Libraries Outdoors! An Environmental Scan” featuring data and stories they collected on how Massachusetts’ librarians have been keeping communities connected by utilizing outdoor spaces.

Here, we want to share three inspiring stories of public librarians transforming the outdoors built environment by working collaboratively with their communities.

1) In Seattle, Washington, C. Davida Ingram, who leads the Seattle Public Library’s Civic Engagement Programming, worked with Wa Na Wari, YES Farm, The Black Farmers Collective, and EarthCorps “to educate and uplift BIPOC youth by fostering food sovereignty and honoring sacred land and Indigenous practices whilst building community.” Ingram did this work by working with her partners to create the BLOOM Giving Garden. The BIPOC-youth-run garden began as a response to COVID-19 and has continued to grow and expand in its second summer. To Ingram, BLOOM represents communities coming together to help BIPOC youth foster a connection with the earth, food, and their histories. Learn more about this amazing community collaboration in this article.

2) In Waterford, Michigan, Kris Miller, a local citizen whose son died from suicide, “reached out to Joan Rogers, director at the Waterford Township Public Library, to discuss putting a kindness garden on the property.” Rogers agreed, A small book house, similar to a Little Free Library, will stand next to the garden and contain mental health resources. Learn more about the Kindness Garden and the community partnerships that undergird it in this article.


3) In Benton, Arkansas, the Saline County Library Youth Services department shared with Let’s Move in Libraries the following story: “We strive to support all children’s healthy physical, mental, and social development in everything we do, our collections, programs, and spaces. Half of our children’s space is devoted to play since children learn through play.

Our newest venture is the addition of a Nature Play Space. This space is approximately 900 sq. ft. and located outside of the children’s room.  The main features in the space are a sensory garden and teaching garden, but the space will also include a mud kitchen, nature play table, digging table, art station, and playhouse. Many of our library visitors live in apartments without access to gardens and this space will help to fill that void. Children can come here to get their hands dirty! We want children to learn where their food comes from, how to care for plants, and experience the wonder of watching a garden grow. We hope that this space also inspires grownups to put away screens and encourage outdoor play.”

These images shows how the librarians envision the Nature Play Space looking looking when it is completed, and how the space under construction currently looks.

How does your library create spaces that focus on connecting with nature and transforming the outdoor built environment? Let us know!

Information on a forthcoming book on connecting nature to health

Author Sandi Schwartz’s new book Finding Ecohappiness: Fun Nature Activities to Help Your Kids Feel Happier and Calmer, will be published on March 22, 2022. The book is currently available for pre-order. It features Storywalk® ideas, and many other fun, hands-on nature-loving activities. Filled with colorful images and activity checklists, the book offers a comprehensive toolkit of nature-based stress reduction tools. Topics addressed include awe and gratitude, mindfulness, creative arts, outdoor play, travel and adventure, volunteering, food, and animals.

Sandi has shared with us the following essay on “How to Enjoy A Nature Poetry Walk.”

Going on a nature poetry walk is such a beautiful, relaxing, creative, and mindful experience. It is a wonderful way to soak in the beauty of our environment and then turn that experience into something creative that we can treasure. Writing poetry requires inspiration, and nature is the perfect backdrop for us to find that spark.

Before you venture out, read some nature poetry for inspiration. Bring a notebook or journal; pencils and pens; colored pencils, markers, or crayons if you want to sketch the scene you are writing about; and a phone or camera to snap some photos. Choose a destination for your walk; try different types of places each time you go. During your walk, move slowly and mindfully. Stop often to experience your environment through each of your five senses. At the end of the walk, pick a place to sit down and write. Finally, enjoy sharing your creation with others.

The best way to do this is to use our five senses. Instead of just walking like you would on a typical hike, it is important to purposely slow down and stop occasionally to take in what is all around. Focus on what you see, hear, touch, smell, and even taste during your walk. Breathe in the air deeply, look all around, and reach out to feel items along the way.

Nature poetry walks provide so many benefits to us, including:

Exercise. Going on a walk gets us moving around a bit more, and we know how beneficial exercise is to our health and well-being.

Stress Reduction. Walking mindfully in nature is an effective stress buster. It helps our bodies and minds relax and enjoy the moment. Plus, by tapping into our five senses, we distract ourselves from worries. Additionally, awe plays an incredible role during both the walk and while writing poetry, and awe is another tool to help us feel calmer because it helps us to view the world in a broader sense.

Mindfulness. According to the Poetry Foundation, poets look at the world the way scientists do, by observing details to discover interesting concepts and patterns. Going on a poetry walk is a wonderful way for you to move mindfully through whatever environment you choose, whether it be the woods, mountains, beach, or your neighborhood park. As you slow down, you will start noticing the simple, yet intriguing aspects of nature such as a butterfly fluttering by or the scent of blossoming flowers.

Emotional Connection. Experts have found that poetry is an excellent way for us to connect with and communicate our thoughts and feelings. It allows us to spend time reflecting on both our experiences and our inner thoughts.

How to participate in our Active Early Learning Community of Practice

This year we want to create more opportunities for librarians and their partners to come together to exchange resources. To that end, in September we had our first Community of Practice meetings on Yoga & Meditation, Active Early Learning and Partnerships for Healthy Communities. We are still deciding how frequently to have these drop-in calls. Let us know your thoughts!

The Active Early Learning CoP, led by Barbara Scott, Children’s Librarian at the Bucyrus Public Library, Ohio, will have its next meeting. This Community of Practice is your space to share resources, ideas, and support with your peers around how to support active early learning. The next Community of Practice event will be Thursday, November 11, at 2 pm Eastern.

These are not webinars. Come ready to turn on your mic, camera, and participate. We are hoping to make these regular events, but that depends on you! So join in, and let’s make it happen.

A new resource on how to increase Older Adult Mobility

Theresa Bass of Baylor University’s Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences recently reached out to us to share their amazing new resource, Older Adult Mobility Improvement Guide.

This guide contains information you can share with your patrons to help older adults, and their family members, help ensure older adults retain and even expand mobility as they age. The resource addresses health causes of mobility impairment in older adults, and details implications associated with mobility loss, including physical, emotional, and financial risks. Also outlined are specific exercises that help increase strength, balance, and endurance with visual demonstrations and information. Additionally, the guide includes external resources from credible organizations such as the CDC, the National Institute of Aging, and the National Council on Aging for further learning.

Let’s Move in Libraries has a long-standing commitment to supporting healthy aging. To learn more about our partnerships with the Geri-Fit Company, check out our Geri-Fit® at the Library webpage, and our video on The Story of Geri-Fit’s Strength Training for Older Adults at the Public Library in Rural America.

Let us know how your library supports healthy aging!

Was this newsletter forwarded to you?

 Subscribe to the 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. Also follow the project on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date. 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.