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The Role of Public Librarians in Supporting Physical Activity

Challenging the “Jacks of All Trades but Masters of None” Librarian Syndrome

ISBN: 978-1-78756-904-1, eISBN: 978-1-78756-903-4

Publication date: 8 October 2018


Public librarians throughout North America now support physical activity. One sees this function in the emergence and diffusion of new programs and services, such as librarians checking out exercise equipment, as well as in librarians actually sponsoring exercise classes. This chapter focuses on understanding this type of work. The first part looks at five different frameworks – the library as place, community-led librarianship, whole person librarianship, community health, and recreation and leisure – that each in different ways enable one to understand how supporting physical activity could become part of the work of public librarians. Focus then shifts to understanding empirically how public librarians in the US and Canada enact and understand this work. Research shows that this role has become more integral and expected in youth services than in adult services. Library staff themselves are more likely to lead movement-based programs for youth than for adults. The discussion then shifts to the implications of this trend in terms of evidence-based practice and multidisciplinary discussions on how and why to increase physical activity throughout society. The conclusion suggests additional work needed to understand this and other poorly understood functions of public librarians.



Lenstra, N. (2018), "The Role of Public Librarians in Supporting Physical Activity", Challenging the “Jacks of All Trades but Masters of None” Librarian Syndrome (Advances in Library Administration and Organization, Vol. 39), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 185-205.



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