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.
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In June 2017, the Mechanicville District Public Library kicked off a community farmers market on the library’s front lawn. Throughout the summer, on Mondays from 4 to 7 p.m., hundreds of people came to stock up on vegetables, pasta, eggs, honey and other goods from local farms.
For a community with a 16.3 percent poverty rate, a market delivering fresh, local goods at affordable prices was a game-changer, and it also gave local farms an opportunity to sell their products.
Trucks! Trucks! Trucks! is a food truck-meets-touch-a-truck festival. Local food truck vendors come to the library to sell a variety of sweet and savory foods while people explore the many trucks brought by local government, businesses and military departments.
In 2017, we held the event on a Saturday in mid-June from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in our library parking lot. Roughly 2,300 people attended.
Through its full-time youth health and program coordinator position, the City of Harker Heights (Texas) Stewart C. Meyer Public Library is working to infuse health and wellness into all of its programming.
Destinee Barton stepped into this new role in September 2018 after earning her bachelor’s degree in community health from Texas Woman’s University. I recently talked with Destinee, along with Library Director Lisa Youngblood and Children's Librarian Amanda Hairton, about how this new position emerged, what impacts it has had, and where they see it heading.
Winterset is a community of 5,120 in central Iowa, about 40 miles outside Des Moines. Since 2011, a number of our local organizations have collaborated to present Wellness Wednesdays in Winterset, a program series that strives to improve the health and wellness of our residents. Programs run from early May to late October and are free of charge and open to all ages.
At Slater (Iowa) Public Library, we find that it's usually tough to get adults to attend programs. But we have also seen a few notable exceptions, one of which is our Soup and Sound program. As the name suggests, this consists of serving a meal and providing entertainment to attendees. Soup and Sound is not only popular — it's fun, community-building, and we've been able to cover our program costs with donations.
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:
A common perception on campuses is that students will attend programs if free food is part of the deal. Well, that may be true. Instead of an afterthought, food can be the main focus and still not cost a fortune. Two recent food-focused events helped us invite students to come see Storytime Censored, a fall exhibition of challenged or banned children’s books.
Nowruz is a non-religious, non-political Iranian holiday that falls on the vernal equinox and celebrates spring and the Iranian New Year. It is a cultural celebration, recognized throughout the world each year among Iranian families.