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Wednesday, February 7 • 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Session 2.1A - Juried Papers: Understanding Physical Activity in Public Libraries.

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This paper discusses the findings from recent studies of movement-based programming in public libraries in terms of the implications of this emerging area for LIS education. Throughout North America, by themselves and in collaboration with other groups and individiduals, public libraries are offering ongoing programs that include, among others, 1) Fitness classes such as yoga, tai chi, and zumba; 2) StoryWalks®, Music and Movement, Yoga Storytimes, and related movement-based programs offered as part of early literacy initiatives; 3) Active play-based programs, such as Nerf wars, geocaching, and letterboxing; 4) Programs focused on fostering more outdoor activities, such as walking and running groups, community gardens, and checking out bicycles and equipment (e.g. hiking backpacks and sports equipment), and 5) Special programs focused on supporting individuals interested in starting and sustaining active lifestyles (e.g. New Year, New You) (Lenstra, 2017a). As this programming area continues to develop and expand, public librarians have experimented with a diverse array of program types. For instance, as part of its computer classes, every Thursday afternoon the Detroit Public Library’s (2017) main branch offers a free chair Yoga session for job seekers.
There is a large literature about how public librarians support health literacy through the provision of consumer health information (e.g. Gillaspy 2005, Rubenstein 2016), as well as how to educate public librarians to provide access to health information (e.g. Morgan et al., 2016). Less understood, however, is how public librarians directly contribute to increasing physical activity through programs and services. The few studies that do exist are case studies of experimental programs in particular places, such as in St. Louis (Engeszer et al. 2016), rural North Carolina (Flaherty and Miller 2016), and Shreveport (Woodson, Timm and Jones 2011).
To understand how and why public libraries foster movement and physical activity, in Winter 2016 a purposive sample of 39 public librarians from throughout North Carolina participated in open-ended interviews about their experiences developing and implementing these programs. To extend this analysis, in Spring 2017, a convenience sample of 1622 public librarians from throughout North America completed a survey about movement-based programming in their libraries. The results from these studies show that, at a minimum, 1574 public libraries in the United States of America and Canada have offered provided movement-based programs, or intend to do so in the future.
The dataset was integrated with data from the IMLS Public Libraries Survey Data (FY2014). More urban public libraries offer slightly more movement-based programs, but these types of programs are also becoming increasingly common in more rural libraries. Furthermore, more urban libraries tend to provide more indoor programs at set times, often led by individuals paid by the library (e.g. fitness classes/music and movement). More rural libraries tend to provide more outdoor programs without set times, more often led by volunteers (e.g. StoryWalk® and outdoor activities). Librarians themselves are equally likely to lead these programs in urban and rural libraries. Across the sample, librarians reported approximately as many movement-based programs for adults as for youth, suggesting that this programming area is being developed without a particular age group in mind.  
Results from the interview-based study in North Carolina further show that these programs tend to emerge when public librarians are themselves very interested in exercise and physical activity. Public library staff also reported learning new skills and  working closely with local institutions as they developed their programs. For instance, some library staff reported that their libraries are paying for staff to learn things like yoga or tai chi so that they can offer these types of programs on a regular basis at the library. 
One reason for this finding may be the related finding that when this programming is offered, it tends to resonate. One librarian noted that “offering fitness programming … allows your community to start seeing the library's role differently.” The survey showed that participation in 81% of the programs reported met or exceeded the expectations of the librarians that offered them. Furthermore, new users were brought in by 60% of the programs offered, and 54% of programs received some form of coverage in the local media. 
The paper concludes by articulating key topics that will need attention in LIS eduation to sustain and expand this emerging area. Although the rationale for physical activity in library programs targeted at very young children is clear and well developed (e.g. Kaplan 2014), the theoretical foundations of physical activity in public library programs and services for other age groups is under-developed. By drawing on recent scholarship on neuroscience (Jensen, 2005) and integrative fitness (Peeke, 2007), this paper suggests ways that LIS education can productively incorporate the body into pedagogy so that future generations of public librarians feel comfortable and capable developing programs and services focused on fostering lifelong healthy movement and physical literacy.  
Detroit Public Library. (2017). Yoga for Job Seekers . http://detroitpubliclibrary.org/event/yoga-job-seekers.
Engeszer, R. J., Olmstadt, W., Daley, J., Norfolk, M., Krekeler, K., Rogers, M., ... & McDonald, B. (2016). Evolution of an academic–public library partnership.  Journal of the Medical Library Association: JMLA ,  104 (1), 62-66.
Flaherty, M. G., & Miller, D. (2016). Rural Public Libraries as Community Change Agents.  Journal of Education for Library and Information Science ,  57 (2), 143-150.
Gillaspy, M. L. (2005). Factors affecting the provision of consumer health information in public libraries.  Library Trends , 53(3), 480-495.
Jensen, E. (2005). Teaching with the brain in mind . ASCD.
Kaplan, A. (2014). Get Up and Move! Why Movement is Part of Early Literacy Skills Development. University of Wisconsin Madison School of Library and Information Studies. http://vanhise.lss.wisc.edu/slis/2014webinars.htm.
Lenstra, N. (2017a). Let’s Move! Fitness Programming in Public Libraries.  Public Library Quarterly , 36(3) 1-20: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01616846.2017.1316150.
Peeke, P. (2007). Integrative fitness: the new science of body-mind medicine.  IDEA Fitness Journal ,  4 (6), 56-63.
Rubenstein, E. (2016). Knowing How to Help: Providing Health Information in Public Libraries.  Journal of Consumer Health on the Internet ,  20 (3), 114-129.
Woodson, D. E., Timm, D. F., & Jones, D. (2011). Teaching kids about healthy lifestyles through stories and games. Journal of Hospital Librarianship, 11(1), 59-69.


Wednesday February 7, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm MST
Meadowbrook I

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