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Burbank Branch Planning – Community Meeting #2

posted: , by Sarah Campbell
tags: About the Library | Adults | Seniors
Burbank Branch

On Wednesday, June 11, 6:30-8:00 pm, please join the Portland Public Library for our second community forum at the Burbank Branch to discuss our developing plans to remodel the Burbank Branch facility later this fiscal year.

The Burbank facility, created in 1995, is itself the 6th busiest library in the state, operating well beyond the capacity imagined twenty years ago. The planned renovation will reconfigure and update the branch to reflect changes in how Burbank patrons use the library, address building infrastructure issues, and solve long-standing ergonomic challenges for library staff.

Scott Simons, whose firm is the architect for the renovation, will facilitate the conversation.

For more information or to share your thoughts before or after the forum, call 871-1700 x759 or send email to librarydirector@portland.lib.me.us. We are eager to hear your input!

Light refreshments will be served. The Friends of the Portland Public Library are sponsoring this event.


Activating Our Hope

posted: , by Kim Simmons
tags: Recommended Reads | Adults | Teens | Seniors | Government

Last month, 9 of us gathered to reflect on Joanna Macy’s ideas presented in the book Active Hope. We began by considering the “spiral of the work that reconnects” and the various stages, including : gratitude, honoring our pain, and seeing with new eyes. The last piece is “going forth” and we left considering our own commitments and ideas for how to bring “active hope” into our lives and our communities.

Some of the ideas for preventing or addressing burn-out that were shared included:

  • – Spend more time outside
  • – Be informed but avoid people who are cynical
  • – The film “A Great Green Fire” was recommended as a provocative overview of the environmental movement – it is available via MaineCat
  • – Engage with arts that promote social change and lift spirits
  • – Ask ourselves, “How can I actually, in some small way… “
  • – Connect in places we’re already connected, including Church, through kids, and in neighborhoods
  • – Engage intergenerationally – consider asking elders to play the role of a steadying force
  • – Have fun while making change
  • – Check out some other resources on this topic (here’s a booklist to start with)
  • – JoAnna Macy’s book World As Lover, World as Self was highly recommended
  • – Learn more about the history of social movements and the “wins” of past movements

Use the comments to share your insights about how to stay hopeful in the face of challenges and stay active in community life.


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.

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