This week is National Library Week and the focus is on how libraries build strong communities. Public libraries provide many services that promote public health. Aside from books on health and wellness topics, many libraries offer programs to help people in the community access basic needs. And best of all, libraries offer all of these services free of charge. From community programs to health resources, libraries are offering a lot more than books these days.
Wealth of Health Information
Libraries offer a wealth of knowledge and resources. Individuals who are not covered by health insurance may go to the library to seek information or health services. There are dedicated sections of the library for health and wellness resources. Community programs hosted within the library help people get access to care and information about insurance coverage. Some librarians receive special training to handle these requests and provide equal access to health resources. For example, librarians may direct someone dealing with mental illness to a self-help book that can teach how to cope with their symptoms. Or, they may suggest that person attend a free wellness class that deals with fitness or stress management. Some libraries have volunteer nurses and doctors who provide health screenings and medical advice. Libraries support healthy communities by being a resource hub and a point of access to basic health care.
Classes and events are one of the ways that a library brings people together. Library rooms are an important meeting space for the community and host different services from children’s reading programs to career development services. Libraries provide free internet access for people looking for jobs and offer job and interview training. Libraries are mini office centers that support entrepreneurship and small business owners who are just getting started. It’s also a great place for students to study and print out papers. Libraries promote productivity so visiting your local library can help you get more things done.
Support for the Community
Libraries support the homeless population by providing access to resources to get them back on their feet. Libraries are safe places that help these individuals access basic needs and social services like food assistance or transportation. The homeless have a safe place to go and protect themselves from harsh weather conditions. The library is a refuge for them during the day when they cannot stay in shelters. Public restrooms at libraries provide a space for them to freshen up and brush their teeth. Although many libraries prohibit bathing in public sinks, accessing soap and water improves hygiene and helps prevent the spread of disease.
A library is truly a safe space for all. Keeping communities strong and healthy is the same mission we have at CHPW. We are lucky to have our local library located just a few blocks from our office. Seattle Public Library offers many services to help local veterans, refugees and homeless access job and health resources, tax help, and much more. Pop-up mobile libraries are also available across the city; watch out for one in your community. Visit your local library this weekend and learn more about the classes and resources that can help you live better.