It's not just about books: U of A libraries offer array of wellness services

Petting dogs, doing assignments at treadmill desks and using light therapy lamps are just some of the wellness services offered to students.

The library may not be the first place that comes to mind for most people when they think about wellness and stress relief, but librarians know better.

Students who visit University of Alberta Libraries can pet dogs, work on assignments at treadmill desks, and check out items that range from light therapy lamps, blue-light-blocking glasses and blue energy light boxes to physical activity kits.

"Libraries have always been concerned with addressing students' wellness. One of our key mandates is to help people. We're invested in academic success and we're also aware that many factors contribute to that," said U of A librarian Angie Mandeville.

These initiatives and others are facilitated through the libraries in partnership with a number of on-campus organizations, including Dean of Students, Healthy Campus Unit and LiveWell, explained reference and instructional assistant Erin Sanderman.

"I think our partnerships speak to the fact that there are so many different organizations on campus that are so invested in this. And we each bring our own strengths," said Mandeville.

With the dogs in the library program, U of A Libraries partners with CAAWLS to bring in therapy dogs several times each semester to interact with students.

"Even if they don't interact directly with the dogs, just seeing the dogs makes them smile," said Sanderman.

Unlike with the regular collection, where they can see circulation statistics and usage numbers, Libraries relies on student feedback to measure the success of their wellness services, explained Mandeville.

"We get great feedback. It's good seeing that student response, it's good seeing people discovering the things we offer," said Sanderman.

Wellness can mean so many things that people sometimes don't know where to access resources, or that they're there at all, explained Sanderman.

"We're a hub on campus. So many students go in and out of our doors every day and spend time studying and using our spaces, so this is another way to reach out to them and give them the opportunity to access wellness resources. Just like with academic resources and databases," Sanderman said.

She and Mandeville noted that U of A Libraries has open collections and open buildings, including staffed service desks for people seeking assistance.

"This makes libraries perfect places to offer a variety of services and resources," said Sanderman.

"We don't just get research or typical library questions; often we'll get questions about other things on campus that we don't necessarily have anything to do with. That's our motto: ask us."