Written by Hilary Kirkpatrick, EPL Outreach Worker
As a social worker for the Edmonton Public Library, I know the importance of community building and making connections for those who are feeling lonely. Having a supportive network of people and meaningful connections can give us the boost we need to feel better about ourselves and have a positive outlook on life. At EPL, there are programs specifically designed to meet the needs and interests of all EPL customers, which help bring people in the community together.
Here are the top 5 ways to utilize your local library to help alleviate loneliness:
1. EPL Book Clubs – Book clubs offer a space where you can meet new people with similar interests (hello, fellow avid readers!) and discuss the means and motives of your favourite literary characters. Friendships are sure to blossom over a cup of tea and a wonderful book!
2. Baby Lap Time and Sing, Sign, Laugh and Learn Programs – New parents are at times isolated by the needs of their new little family member, and early literacy programs can provide the opportunity to make a connection for parents while babies learn through play, song and story. These interactive, free, drop-in programs are a great opportunity to connect with other new parents and give your little one a head-start.
3. Makerspace Programs – Did you know that expressing yourself creatively in a way that is meaningful to you can help you combat loneliness? EPL Makerspace programs offers sound-booths to record a song, binding and printing services for your writing, or the opportunity to create a mini-movie with the green screen! Make friends and enjoy a fun project all at the same time!
4. Adult Programs – Find ways to socialize based on what interest you such as learning a new hobby at the library: sewing class, adult colouring, film series, traditional arts and crafts, and more! Hobbies are a great way to meet new people, and to help yourself get out of the house. If you are feeling left out of the community because of a language barrier, EPL can help you improve your English conversations skills. We host conversation circles for English language learners that are set at your pace.
5. Assistive Services - If you are experiencing a significant barrier or are physically unable to leave your home or a have disability, EPL provides home service where you live, whether that's an extended care facility, a seniors' lodge or your own home. We also offer specialized computers and assistive technology. If you are far away from family across the world, EPL staff can show you how to use email and Skype with your far away family members!
With EPL, connection is always possible. Let’s work together to combat loneliness and connect with our community and loved ones. A step towards visiting your local public library is a step towards ending loneliness!