Brain Healthy Library

Rebecca.Melton's picture

How do you take a wonderful idea and adapt it for your library? This is a challenge for those of us who get excited at a conference or presentation.  Then we find that it never gets off the ground because more pressing stuff gets in the way. If that has ever happened to you, then you can understand why I needed to hear Dr. Paul Nussbaum three times before I became energized enough to incorporate the concepts of brain health into our programs.

Dr. Paul says there are five domains to a healthy brain: Mental Stimulation, Spirituality, Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Socialization. He inspires his listeners to learn about themselves and their brains, then take steps to spread the word. I’ve embraced the need to be brain healthy for myself and so has the adult program team. Now our library is ready to become a Brain Healthy Library.  At the October ILA workshop, Dr. Nussbaum and Stephen Ristau presented ideas for adapting Brain Health ideas to fit a public library’s needs. Here is our plan:

1st step- Get staff on board. Nothing happens top-down in our library. We are staff driven, so I asked each staff person to
watch the video presentation from ILA in Pocatello. Find the presentation here:

(select ILA Brain Workshop under Forums). 
Even without a high-quality recording, staff members were inspired by Dr. Paul’s stories and information.  We talked about what it means to be “brain healthy” and decided how to approach the project.
2nd step- Recognize that we offer adult programs that already incorporate brain health concepts. Highlighting the connections
for staff and the public begins our brain health approach.
3rd step- Expand adult programming to include all five domains. Many of our programs hit the Socialization, Mental Stimulation
and Nutrition domains. We are looking for ways to include Physical Activity and Spirituality.
4th step- Brand it. We have developed a bookmark that can be shared with libraries in our District. We bought access to a
“brainy picture” and each domain has a special color so that we can brand our program flyers with the appropriate graphic. 
After we have some experience under our belts, we’ll see if we can become a Brain Healthy library district.
5th step- Share enthusiasm and ideas with stakeholders. Say it out loud, explain the plan to the Board, Foundation or
Friends groups, and it becomes real. Next thing you know, other people will ask what they can do to help and you’re on your way! Our Foundation members have volunteered to partner with us and may fund the development of a “Brain Health” website. We plan to use TLA50 resources, links from Dr. Paul’s site ( and include announcements, reading suggestions, information and games.

We know there is much to do and learn, but Community Library Network at Post Falls is ready for the challenge.