Nonprofits are everywhere. Wherever you are located, it's likely that there are numerous nonprofit organizations at work in your community that you've never even heard of. In 2009, the Hayward (Calif.) Public Library merged with another city department and took on the city's community grants program. They found that in this city of 150,000 there are over 2,000 nonprofit organizations!
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Together, Area Agencies on Aging and Councils on Aging constitute the public infrastructure designed to support America’s older adults. As such, they are natural partners for public libraries seeking to develop programs that lead communities “on the path to healthy aging,” as the ALA Health Literacy Toolkit puts it.
In September, I had the opportunity to attend both the annual Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) and the biennial Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) conferences. For me, the major take-away from both events is that libraries can help each other develop programs that address food insecurity.
The Cooperative Extension System, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, exists to “encourage healthful lifestyles” by providing “non-formal education and learning activities to people throughout the country.” It emerged hand-in-hand with the land-grant university system and, over time, evolved from a focus on agricultural education in rural areas (4-H is part of the extension system) to a broader focus on health and food in both urban and rural parts of the country.
New research by a San Jose State University scholar finds that most health programs offered by a major U.S. public library system are developed through community partnerships. San Jose Public Library not only works with partners to develop programs offered at the library, they also participate in regional health campaigns. Keep reading to learn how they do it, and to get inspired to try something new at your library!
At two national health conferences last month, I learned about an array of new programs taking place in public libraries, from Play Streets to Fix-A-Flat. A major take-away from these conferences is that many people across the country interested in health are ready and eager to team up with public librarians.
I also learned a new acronym: HEAL, which stands for Healthy Eating, Active Living.
For public libraries and community partners across North America, February is prime time for gardening programs. There are many types of gardening programs you can offer, and many partners you can work with to develop them.
A quick survey of the gardening programs being offering this February and March in North America reveals that libraries are offering:
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are 4,360 colleges and the universities in the United States. More likely than not, there is a college or university close to you — and partnering with them is a great way to bring high-quality health and wellness programming to your library.