There are many different aspects to a library that can vary according to the needs of the community. Libraries today have several roles to play which we will cover in more detail in the following article. However, one of the most important facets of using a library for mental and memory health is something that is often overlooked and it is the intrinsic value of its role.
Roles of Libraries in Today’s Society
- Support reading for pleasure through online and printed books and magazines
- Support literacy through learning how to read and improving reading skills
- Provide a meeting space and cultural activities for the community
- Support personal study in a formal or informal setting
How Library Can Improve Mental and Memory Health
A library offers a unique space that is often calming, away from the chaos of society. A library is also the only non-commercial space within a community where people can come and spend some time outside of their homes without being expected to spend money. A library is generally considered a safe space where people can rest and relax while enjoying a good book. Even when the library is bustling with crowds on the weekends, the noise level is still expected to be low as that is just how things work in a library.
How Reading Positively Affects Your Life
There are many benefits associated with reading, which are listed below:
- Strengthens Brain: Researchers have found that reading involves a complex network of signals and circuits in the brain. The more we read, the stronger and more sophisticated those networks will be.
- Increases Empathy: Studies have shown that people who read literary fiction show a greater ability to understand the beliefs and feelings of other people. This is called the theory of mind which is a skill set that is important for navigating, building, and socializing.
- Builds Vocabulary: Research has found that those who read books on the regular from a young age will get to gradually develop a large vocabulary. Great vocabulary can help to improve the way we communicate and present ourselves.
- Prevents Cognitive Decline with Age: It is recommended for older adults to continue reading in old age to keep their minds engaged all the time. Even though it has not been proven that reading can prevent memory-related conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, reading has indeed been shown to improve cognitive function.
- Reduces Stress: Researchers measured the effects of humor, yoga, and reading on the stress levels of a group of participants. The study found that reading for 30 minutes every day lowered their blood pressure levels, heart rate, and emotions of psychological distress as effectively as humor and yoga did.
- Supports Good Night’s Sleep: Older adults often suffer from insomnia but they can get a good night’s sleep if they read from a printed article before bedtime. Reading on a screen is not recommended as the light emitted from the device may cause you to fall asleep even later.
- Alleviates Symptoms of Depression: Reading can lower the feelings of isolation that people with depression experience. Fiction can also let the reader temporarily escape from reality and feel a sense of happiness.