Public libraries already promote information literacy, digital literacy, experiential learning, and also function as a center for communities to come together and engage. What if promoting a healthy lifestyle and physical fitness were added to this list? For Sonoma County Libraries, situated in Santa Rosa, California, that is exactly what is happening. Armed with a $30,000 federal grant, twelve branches will offer physical fitness classes like Cardio Kickboxing and different types of yoga and meditation, as well as classes on healthy cooking, and programs that target all age groups. For the next seven months, this “Healthy Living at Your Library” series will promote health and fitness literacy, something the county says is in line with the library system’s strategic plan and the 2016 Sonoma County Health Needs Assessment.
The Sonoma County library system is not the first to include fitness classes in their programming. Jessica Zaker, a 2015 Library Journal “Mover and Shaker” and supervisor at the Sacramento Public Library’s Arcade branch, created their popular Punk Rock Aerobics class and a Zombie Survival Fitness class. The Alamance County Public Libraries in North Carolina have had an extremely successful adult Zumba class in the evenings, as well as a dance and exercise class for kids called “Moving and Grooving.” The Programming Librarian discusses this growing movement as kinetic or physical literacy. “Physical literacy gives us an awareness of our bodies in time and space; it allows us to ‘read’ what is going on in any given environment and figure out how to respond…This self-awareness can go a long way toward empathy for others and self-acceptance.”
Taking your library in a health-minded direction can also offer new partnership opportunities. Many of the libraries mentioned in this post, including Sonoma County, partnered with outside groups including the YMCA, a junior college, and the Northern California Center for Well-Being. Public libraries already practice outreach and often connect with outside groups to enhance their programming and broaden their reach, so this is simply another avenue with a different focus. You don’t need a $30,000 federal grant to get started, although it certainly helps.
Link to source article: (1)http://www.pressdemocrat.com/lifestyle/6121752-181/get-fit-healthy-at-sonoma