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You would not expect to see the words ‘fitness’ and ‘library’ come up in the same sentence, yet you would be surprised to find out the correlation between the two. How can libraries help people be more involved in fitness? What are some successful examples of this synergy and how can libraries become involved?


To find the answers to these questions and others, tune in to episode six of the Princh Library Lounge! In this episode host Marc Lapointe is joined by Noah Lenstra and Jenn Carson, two experts in the relationship between libraries and fitness.

Many people are aware of the importance of fitness but do not necessarily think about its connection to libraries. So, how can libraries help with educating and getting people more involved in fitness?

Jenn kicks-off the conversation by sharing with us her experience as a yoga instructor at her library, starting a program for children which connected physical activities with learning exercises, helping the young ones with their communication skills and not only fitness. Jenn’s interest for physical literacy matured during her research for a master’s degree, when she discovered there was really no research done about physical literacy in libraries.

Noah sympathizes with Jenn’s enthusiasm and determination, mentioning that people like her, who are passionate about fitness and physical literacy, are the main drive for libraries to get more involved. Noah recalls the summer of 2016, when during the Rio Olympics, a collaborative library program named CSLP held a number of physical activity events aimed for both the youth and adult audiences. This example showcases that libraries are open to organize such activities at their location and such notions should be part of the conversation, yet sometimes the hardest part is starting that conversation.

For more information about this topic, please listen to episode 6 of the Princh Library Lounge!

What recommendations can you share that would help a library or library professionals who would like to take actionable steps towards making sure fitness is a focus at their library?

Jenn answer brings up the importance of first educating yourself about physical literacy and its importance as a first step. Statistics such as obesity rates and life expectancy of new generations are just two examples of possible topics to have a conversation with a library administrator in regard to supporting physical literacy programs at your library. Being armed with facts and examples will encourage your library to be a part of an already growing movement.

Jenn goes on to highlight her work with the New Brunswick public library system, which created a plan that requires libraries to run a movement based program at least once per year, before highlighting that librarians do not have to worry about being the ones to run the program, as there are passionate people in local communities who love sports and that are more than happy to be part of them.

Noah is in absolute agreement with Jenn’s points before going on to share one example he is fond of, where a library in South East Ohio encouraged their staff members to commute by bicycle, in order to support wellness and be eco-friendly. This initiative evolved throughout the community, and the library started checking out bicycles, which became a popular trend beyond just their county. Noah goes on to discuss another example, this time in North Carolina, where a library started lending their unused meeting rooms to exercise classes held initially for municipal employees before opening them for the public as well.

Another great example shared by Noah involved Jenn, who took the initiative to invite the local running club to start their meetings in front of her library. Noah goes on to say, by being open, you not only make people aware that the library wants to be a resource, but you also strike partnerships and become an ally which supports physical fitness and physical literacy.

 For more information about this topic, please listen to episode 6 of the Princh Library Lounge!

What role does the library have in promoting and educating the community about overall fitness?

Jenn states that in her opinion, it is the mandate of public libraries to provide information to patrons, as they are the only places where people can access that kind of information and attend programs all for free. Jenn makes mention that the access the library can offer to all people is what makes it part of the library’s role to educate and promote overall fitness. The library can eliminate the intimidation factor of physical literacy, because everyone is welcome at libraries.

Jenn believes that the community aspect that the library provides allows these activities offered at the library to be something that is relaxed that can get people into the library for one thing and make them aware and stay for other things. Jenn gives an example of maybe a visitor comes for a yoga class but then they learn of a class to write a resume, so they attend that class as well. These types of things have happened.

Noah adds some examples from his work with people in the public health field, mentioning some worrying statistics on such things as obesity levels in the US. He goes on to highlight the important role that library’s play in these situations and the lack of proper education on the matter in public schools around the world.

For more information about this topic, please listen to episode 6 of the Princh Library Lounge!

Are there any other initiatives you would like to highlight in regard to libraries and fitness?

 Jenn says that librarians don’t necessarily have to offer classes, as they can provide services that achieve the goal of fitness or physical literacy in the form of materials for loan (fx. renting a bike). This allows for community partners to get involved and together, all parties can encourage the importance of physical activity. Jenn goes on to give an example from last summer, where in partnership with local businesses and associations, the community participants that were involved in a library fitness activity were rewarded by a free visit to a local water park.

Noah brings up the impact of healthy ageing programs aimed towards older adults, which is a growing sector of North American population. In his work, Noah connected agencies working on ageing with the public libraries to host classes, highlighting the importance of starting the conversation with libraries as a potential partner in these situations.

For more information about this topic, please listen to episode 6 of the Princh Library Lounge!

How do public libraries outside North America support physical activity?

 For any of our readers that are outside of North America, please share your experiences with how public libraries’ support physical activity.

Noah is trying to put together a list of examples and would appreciate any feedback you can provide. You can share your examples at

For more information about this topic, please listen to episode 6 of the Princh Library Lounge!

If any of our listeners want to continue the conversation with you what is the best way for them to reach you?

 Twitter for Jenn: @LibrarianCarson

Website for Jenn:

Jenn Email:


Website for Noah:

Twitter for Noah: @NoahLenstra

Noah email:

 For more information about this topic, please lis