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PPL partners with Maine Physician to Show Link Between Public Library Use And Tobacco Cessation

posted: , by Sarah Campbell
tags: About the Library | Director's Updates | Adults | Seniors | Health

In 2010, a highly regarded group of physicians, brain scientists, social scientists, and other experts went on record with their expert opinion that public libraries likely promote health. Now, one Maine physician, working with Portland Public Library, has just completed the first-ever direct and broad research on the topic – and proved their instincts were on the right track.

Maine physician Dr. Sam Zager was the driving force behind the Health and Libraries of Public Use Retrospective Study (HeLPURS), the first broad investigation of health and public libraries. The study investigated whether a link between library use and health could be quantifiably established. Dr. Zager’s interest in the intersection of health and public library use grew out of his involvement in library advocacy efforts in Boston several years ago. He noticed that the prior research into health and libraries was sparse and narrowly focused on health literacy. No studies existed to determine the relationship between library use and individuals’ health profiles.


Individuals who used the library moderately were nearly three times more likely to successfully quit smoking


The project results provide evidence that public library use has quantifiable associations with health, particularly in the areas of substance abuse and depression-anxiety disorders. The most dramatic finding is that moderate or higher use of public libraries is associated with tobacco cessation. Individuals who have ever been smokers and who used the library at least moderately – seven or more items checked out per active year – were nearly three times more likely to have successfully quit smoking, compared with smokers who used the library less.

“HeLPURS offers the first direct evidence that public libraries could be health-promoting spaces,” Dr. Zager says. “This was out-of-the-box thinking, but now these results beg for further research. The current findings also have important implications when estimating return on investment in public libraries in Maine and across the country.”

Dr. Zager’s sentiments are echoed by PPL Executive Director Steve Podgajny. “What the HeLPURS study doesis to clinically isolate a specific and very important health relationship that public libraries have with individuals and the community as a whole. The study has many ramifications one of which is how public libraries might serve more effectively as a vehicle for public health funding and goals.”

The HeLPURS project allied Dr. Zager with the Library’s Health and Institutional Research Teams, starting in 2012. The study, conducted in Fall 2013, was funded by a generous grant from the Anne Randolph Henry Charitable Foundation. The study recruited participants from adult Maine Medical Center Family Medicine patients. Participants who were also PPL card holders granted permission for the Library to release information on frequency of their library use for correlation by Dr. Zager and his colleagues with their medical histories. Throughout the study, all privacy laws and human research ethics protocols as well as PPL privacy policies were strictly observed, and no personal borrowing history was ever queried.

About Dr. Zager
Dr. Sam Zager is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, who holds an MD from Harvard University and an M.Phil. in Economic and Social History from Oxford University. His presentation on HeLPURS won top prize at the Maine Academy of Family Physicians Annual Conference in April 2014. Dr. Zager has been a Family Medicine Resident Physician at Maine Medical Center since 2011, and he will begin practicing Family Medicine with Martin’s Point Healthcare starting in September 2014.


Science of Character – March 20th

posted: , by Kim Simmons
tags: Programs & Events | Recommended Reads | Adults | Teens | Kids & Families | Seniors | Art & Culture | Health

On March 20th, a national project organized by Let It Ripple will launch community conversations about the “Science of Character” all over the country.  PPL’s Choose Civility Initiative is pleased to screen the 8 minute video.

Thursday, March 20 – 12:00pm – 1:00pm
Location: Main Library – Rines Auditorium
Bring your lunch!
  • What character traits do we value the most in ourselves and in others?
  • What kinds of character building experiences do we offer our kids, ourselves, and each other?
  • What kind of projects might we support as we build the character of individuals and our larger community?

If you can’t make it to our public conversation, consider participating online through social media (#CharacterDay), by reviewing Let It Ripple’s online resources or check out a book from PPL’s Choose Civility collection!


The Camden Conference

posted: , by Sonya Durney
tags: Adults | Government | Health | Science & Technology
CAMDEN

Portland Public Library would like to thank the Board of Directors of the Camden Conference for their generous donation to PPL; allowing the Library to purchase a collection of books and films related to the conference’s theme: The Global Politics of Food and Water.

Click here to browse the books and films now available at PPL for those who wish to explore this important topic further.

The Conference convenes on Friday evening, February 21, with the keynote address at 8PM, and continues on Saturday, February 22 from 8:30AM – 5PM and again on Sunday, February 23 from 9:00AM-12:30PM.

The 2014 Conference will provide a provocative look at the global dynamics of managing the world’s food and water resources at a time when the challenge to meet the ever-increasing demand has never been more critical. By 2050, our planet’s population may have grown by two billion, while other factors, including climate change, may have greatly reduced land and water resources essential for food production. The world will have to produce even more food without more land and with less water.

The Conference will address several issues related to food and water, including the contentious debate between industrial agriculture practices and small-scale farming operations; food security issues dependent on international cooperation; and innovations that encourage more productive farming and fishing.

Having outlined the issues, the Conference will examine options that can be considered by governments and citizens to promote secure access to food and water in sustainable ways. Throughout the weekend, enlightening presentations by leading international experts will cover promising policies and practices now being used in China, Africa, and North America.

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