Paying more attention to the health and social benefits of libraries is overdue

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There is a great article in the Globe that is deserving of a read.

Excerpt: There were dire predictions that brick-and-mortar libraries would become obsolete in the digital age. Yet, they have become even more important in recent years, as essential community hubs that offer not only cultural events but also health and social services.

Where else can you find a public bathroom in the downtown core of cities? As climate chaos grows, libraries serve as warming and cooling centres. They offer free WiFi for those who can’t afford it, a bit of story-time respite for overwhelmed parents and caregivers, language courses for new Canadians, free technology training courses, job training for hundreds of thousands, cooking classes, and a place for students to study, and gig workers to work, as well as social interaction for the growing legions of the lonely.

While COVID-19 exposed many of the holes in our health and social safety net, it also shone a light on how invaluable libraries have become. During the pandemic, libraries were responsive to community needs in a manner few other institutions were.

They distributed rapid tests. They used their 3D printers to produce personal protective equipment for health workers. They provided laptop loans to students forced to learn remotely. Portable toilets were installed outside, and snacks and menstrual products were distributed to the unhoused. Some opened temporary food banks… Click here to read this article

1 Comment

  1. As libraries transition to their new roles some thoughts to consider.
    Hiring should focus on individuals with expertise in social services.
    The safety of children within the facility should become the organization’s number one priority.
    Any activity that may threaten the safety of anyone who enters the building should only be done in consultation with all library stakeholders.

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