6 Straightforward Ways Libraries Can Supercharge Your New Year’s Resolutions

6 Straightforward Ways Libraries Can Supercharge Your New Year’s Resolutions

An approaching new year can be a stressful time. Only a few days after the joyful crush of the holidays it’s time to reflect on the past year and yes, create meaningful resolutions for the year ahead. It’s a tall order to be sure. Luckily for all of us, libraries are there to help! Here are some straightforward (and maybe unexpected) ways libraries can not only inspire, but also play a strong role in, facilitating a new year that enriches you and those around you:

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Community service

Study after study has shown that health and happiness are directly connected with a person’s social connectedness within their community. That’s why people who volunteer for their church, senior center, school, hospital, or library tend to be so much more fulfilled in their lives. You might not be aware, but there are many ways to volunteer in and around the library. Maybe you know of an elderly or sick neighbor who has transportation issues — why not drive them to a concert at the library? Or pop by the library and pick up an audiobook or large print book for them? It’s so simple, but it can really mean the world to someone.

Now, if you have a strong back, many Friends of the Library groups have regular used book sales to fund-raise for their favorite place. Part of putting on those book sales is bringing loads of books to a central location and from my experience, I know that there’s always a need for volunteers to lug boxes around — it’s certainly not glamorous, but it’s a relatively small commitment (a few hours a two or three times a year) that translates to library programs and purchases that help the whole community!

Make some friends

Making good friends can be tough whether you’re new to a place or a long-time resident. Libraries do some of the work for you by hosting clubs and meetups focusing on a variety of interests! Not to mention that for new parents, one of the encouraged outcomes of storytime is interaction between kids and their parents. Check out your local library’s schedule and you may be surprised by the friend-making opportunities you’ll find. That said, if you don’t see a group that shares your interests, talk to the library staff about starting one! If it’s a general-enough topic many libraries will be happy to give you meeting or study room space to grow, say, a photography club or a meetup to do citizen science. Naturally, you can also just volunteer at the library (see above) and you’ll be sure to meet new people who share a positive attitude about public service.

Become more mindful

I’ve written about this a few times before, but I feel it bears repeating many times over. Making meaningful connections with works of conceptual invention like books, art, and thoughtful films, as well as nature, and your inner environment are keys to well-being in a frenetic world. Libraries and parks are, in many ways, the symbols of slow info in communities; they encourage mindfulness and depth more than any other place you could go. If you found yourself feeling overwhelmed constantly this past year, perhaps a weekly trip to the library with the uncomplicated intention of just existing there for a little while, with no pressure to accomplish anything, will figuratively and literally give you some space to breath.

Learn something new

Is this the year you’re going to master Spanish, become a Python-coding pro, or expand your ideas on a difficult social issue? You know that the library has free online and in-person resources to help you along, right? Really and truly, save the hundreds of dollars you’d spend on language learning programs or, for example, Lynda.com (which I love, btw) — or rather, don’t double-pay for them. Many libraries already purchase these services with the tax dollars you generously pay every year. The myriad top-notch learning resources offered through libraries are a big reason that libraries are a smart investment. It also means you don’t have to scour the world for high-quality curriculum on your subject of choice. Your friendly neighborhood librarians have already done that for you! All that’s left for you is to do the learning.

Start a healthy habit

Healthy habits are physical and mental routines that contribute to overall well-being, and they are a touchstone of a person’s wisdom. How do you develop those habits at the library, you may ask? Spend some time researching library databases for peer-reviewed articles about what really contributes to well-being, minus the fluff and sponsored content you often find on the open web. More to the point, many libraries offer regular classes for gentle physical activity like yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, and more. More details about the trajectory towards healthful activities in libraries can be with noteworthy projects like Let’s Move in Libraries initiative. Healthy habits needn’t include expensive gym memberships or high-pressure diets — the options at libraries are proof of that.

My hope is that by perusing these ways in which libraries can aid your new years resolutions, you’ve been inspired to create some beautiful resolutions that will improve your life in the coming year. May your new year be filled with health, happiness, and many memorable library experiences!