One space that remains free, welcoming, and safe for all children is the library. Libraries are a hub of community resources and provide an important social connection, often anchoring a community. Kids can safely spend hours of time at the library – without the expectation that they purchase or produce anything. Children can play. They can explore their interests, learn new things, and make connections with others in their community. These are all strategies that help strengthen youth resilience.
Bookmobiles, digital libraries, internet access, and computer assistance allow libraries to reach underserved children, especially those in rural communities that may lack adequate internet connectivity.
“For children and families, especially the underserved, the marginalized and those new to their community, the library can provide a sense of connection and belonging that is the foundation of wellness,” said Linda Hall, director of the Office of Children’s Mental Health (OCMH).
Libraries also support caregiver mental health. They can be a sanctuary for those looking for parenting information, social connections, or local resources that help families with housing, food, and other essential needs.
People go to the library seeking information and connection. They may find it in a book or a DVD, online, and more recently from library social worker. Libraries across the country are employing social workers who can help families navigate local resources and systems. Data show that participation in Wisconsin library programs has been increasing.
Director Hall said, “From the most marginalized in our society to middle-class caregivers and toddlers visiting for treasured story time, libraries are a true refuge.”
For more information on how libraries support youth and family mental health, see the fact sheet, including recommendations on what parents, schools, libraries, and policymakers can do.
See the complete fact sheet.