This e-Forum was held on April 25-26, 2023. It was co-moderated by Kelly Williams and Michelle Shea, both from Texas A&M University-Central Texas, Jennifer Batson, from The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, and Sandra Yvette Desjardins, from The Houston Academy of Medicine – Texas Medical Center Library.
Attendees explored the benefits of health and wellness programs within communities, gave examples of health and wellness programs that have been successful at their libraries, and considered types of collections that libraries could build related to wellness.
The learning objectives for this e-forum included:
- The benefits of including health and wellness programs for your community.
- Health and wellness programs that have been successful at other libraries.
- Types of collections that libraries can build relating to wellness.
On day one, participants mentioned yoga videos, free lunch programs, nutrition talks, health information outreach, walking study stations and groups, free gym use and workout programming, basketball at the reference desk, fencing groups, bingo games, photo competitions, puzzles, book clubs, and workplace wellness practices, among other suggestions. Activities could be aligned with subject areas, exercise programs, or personal interests. Some good collaborations were from human resource departments, campus recreation, and community organizations and businesses. Event planning could be completed with these groups and within library staff committees. For marketing, options included social media, flyers, calendars, digital signs, and newsletters. While libraries have adjusted their programming, due to the pandemic shutdown, events are now held in both physical and virtual formats. Generally, there doesn’t seem to be a formal assessment to evaluate the effectiveness of wellness programs, although some informal data is collected. Some libraries opened calming spaces, which could be surveyed for usage statistics. Regarding challenges, libraries needed to consider scheduling, student population preferences, budgeting for outreach, and the range of foods offered at events.
On the second day, the group gathered programming ideas from online sources. Participants mentioned helpful links from universities, such as West Texas A&M University and NC State, as well as public libraries and institutions, like the Boston Public Library and Mayo Clinic. These sources included information on virtual relaxation ideas, origami, meditation, mental and physical health suggestions, activities like coloring, petting animals, dancing, and more. The forum also touched on virtual wellness programs. Some options included book talks, trivia games, tournaments (using Discord for communication), and tracking walking goals. Health and wellness collections in current and future libraries were considered, including the use of different formats and languages for materials. A recommendation was also made to complete needs assessments to fit community needs. Lastly, the group was prompted to reflect on collaborative relationships with local organizations and consortiums, including ways of pooling their resources. Overall, the discussion was informative and insightful for discovering health and wellness initiatives in libraries.