Healthy Living at the Library
Programs for All Ages
by Noah Lenstra
June 2020, 225pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Libraries Unlimited

Paperback: 978-1-4408-6314-1
$50, £39, 44€, A69
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-6315-8
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

A step-by-step guide to starting, running, and sustaining healthy living programs.

This broad-ranging resource is for librarians who want to begin a new program or incorporate healthy living into an existing one.

From garden plots to cooking classes to StoryWalks to free yoga, more and more libraries are developing innovative programs and partnerships to encourage healthy living. Libraries increasingly provide health and wellness programs for all ages and abilities, and Healthy Living at the Library is intended for library staff of all types who want to offer programs and services that foster healthy living, particularly in the domains of food and physical activity.

Author Noah Lenstra, who has extensive experience directing and advising on healthy living programs, first outlines steps librarians should take when starting programs, highlighting the critical role of community partnerships. The second section of the book offers detailed instructions for running different types of programs for different ages and abilities. A third section includes advice on keeping the momentum of a program going and assessing program impacts. Lenstra offers tips on how to overcome challenges or roadblocks that may arise. An appendix contains resources you can adapt to get these programs off the ground, including waivers of liability, memoranda of understanding, and examples of strategic plans and assessment tools.


  • Learn how to start, run, and sustain healthy living programs
  • Get inspired to develop new programs based on the successes of librarians throughout North America
  • Determine how to overcome challenges and roadblocks
  • Refer to practical resources you can adapt for your own library
Noah Lenstra directs the Let's Move in Libraries initiative at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he is a faculty member of library and information studies. He has served on the Public Library Association's Health Literacy National Advisory Board, and his research on healthy physical activity promotion in public libraries has been published in Library Quarterly, Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, and the Journal of Library Administration, among others. He blogs for Public Libraries Online and the Programming Librarian and is always up to try a new form of physical activity.


"A solid purchase for librarians seeking to expand year-round programming with healthy ideas."—Library Journal, January 1, 2021

"Implementing physical health and wellness programs at the library allow it to be a one-stop shop to meet the needs of the community; patron services can be enhanced by increasing literacy and health and wellness activities for patrons."—Michelle Bennett-Copeland, Youth Services Manager/Central Fulton County Library System

"Noah Lenstra has established himself as the expert on the innovative trends in health and wellness programs at libraries. With historical perspective, excellent research, and detailed case studies, Healthy Living at the Library gives readers everything they need to know to get a wellness program up and running. From square dancing to belly dancing, from weight lifting to yoga, from therapy dogs to bike shares—all in the library—this book will leave you inspired and ready for action."—Josh Berk, Executive Director, Bethlehem Area Public Library

"With enthusiasm, generosity, and a formidable knowledge base, Noah Lenstra makes the case for library promotion of public health and provides librarians much inspiration and practical advice. Health, wellness, nutrition, and movement programming and related activities, from serving summer meals to lending bikes, aren't mission-stretching add-ons; rather, they are intrinsic to the purpose of the library and tremendously beneficial to participants. A wide array of examples from libraries around the United States and worldwide demonstrate that library involvement makes healthy living practices accessible and inclusive while enhancing the library’s role in the community."—Janet Ingraham Dwyer, Library Consultant, State Library of Ohio

"Noah Lenstra has consistently promoted and researched healthy living and wellness, which was one of my ALA presidential efforts. I’m heartened to read his book—the first of its kind!—including ideas for programming for year-round healthy living and for how to sustain healthy living at the library, which would equip library workers with resources to practice these principles and bring best practices to the communities they serve."—Loida Garcia-Febo, International Library Consultant, Past President of the American Library Association

"Libraries are natural partners in encouraging healthy living for our communities. Based on my positive experiences with Let’s Move Museums and Gardens promoting healthy practices in cultural spaces, I am thrilled to see similar success in this exciting compilation of health-related activities in our libraries."—Susan Hildreth, Former Director, Institute of Museum and Library Services

"Healthy Living at the Library provides a wealth of examples helpful for any size library to start or add to their healthy living initiatives. What sets this book apart is the perspective provided for each example. Readers are not told what should be done; rather, they are given a variety of perspectives from librarians around the world who have been doing the work for years now of integrating healthy living into their library's programming efforts. Librarians can then take the ideas and adapt them to suit their community's needs. As someone who has integrated a variety of health-related programming at a joint-use library (serving public patrons as well as college students), I found myself agreeing with the approaches offered on how to get started as well as jotting down additional ideas of how to move forward strategically with future efforts. This book will be invaluable for any librarian wishing to increase the health education opportunities of their community through library programming."—Kendra Auberry, Librarian/Assistant Professor, Indian River State College
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