Libraries Transform Minds and Communities: Celebrating National Library Week


Libraries are important community institutions.

April is a time to celebrate our nation’s libraries and library workers. Local libraries are important community institutions, and like local bookstores, they are the hub of language culture and a place where creative minds can physically explore books and learning. From free access to books and online education to business resources that help support entrepreneurship and retraining, libraries offer opportunity to all. Children’s story hour, visiting authors, lecture series, art exhibitions, historical programs, innovative learning projects, senior activities, and diverse community groups – libraries connect people locally to each other and globally to the universe of published literature and information. April 10 to 16 is National Library Week, an observance sponsored by the American Library Association and all types of libraries including school, public, academic, and archival across the country will participate in this year’s theme, ”Libraries Transform”.

Everyone who has ever loved a book knows that the reader-book relationship is personal. For the reader-seeker it is often love at first sight, there is something thrilling about looking through shelves of books for a good read. We discover books along our life’s journey. Books find us when we need them and can transform our intellectual and emotional perspectives. Reading is a peak creative experience, and libraries are a fertile haven for lovers of books and reading. They offer important access to having books in our hands and freely discovering where our curiosity leads us. The library card, well used and renewed throughout a lifetime, can take you anywhere, anytime…and “Oh, the places you’ll GO!” This wisdom is the title of the last book by the American children’s author-artist, Dr. Seuss (b.1904-d.1991). It is his most optimistic and colorful manifesto of courage. I’ve always loved his iconic works, and wore out my first library card checking out all his books when I was beginning to read. Dr. Seuss taught me a love of reading and looking at books, with his wonderfully rhythmic words, practical life philosophy, and those amazing pictures.

Libraries transform intellectual experience and, in many creative ways, the library experience is being transformed in this decade. Books and information are taking new forms with the rapid expansion of digital platforms for reading and learning. Traditional brick and mortar institutions are adapting to the needs of education and technology, and have become vital community centers that provide traditional library services, as well as a whole new generation of innovation programs that support makerspaces and maker faires, and a wide range of curriculum resources in the arts and sciences.

In the spirit of art, science and transformation, Art HOPE is pleased to partner with the York Public Library to offer our annual creative wellness program, Taking Flight, Making Origami, on Saturday, April 23, from 10 to 1pm, in York, Maine. Artists of all ages are invited to learn to fold a classic origami crane in this free event that highlights the therapeutic qualities and history of the medium. A fun way to wellness and a great time to celebrate our local library.

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Laughter is the Best Medicine-Art HOPE

Smiling is a symptom of wellness.

Whatever ails you can be relieved with a little humor, even when it’s no laughing matter. Keeping things light when your inner light feels dim is not only the best way to feel well, but as a 90 year old friend reminds me, maintaining a sense of humor will keep you young and sassy. Life has its ups and downs, its sadness and euphoria. We live through the best and worst times, and wit makes every day better. Like a vacuum cleaner, humor is one of the few things that is better when it sucks.

Smiling is a symptom of wellness. Humor is the happy stimulus, laughter is the positive physiological and psychological response. It feels good because it involves the dopamine system of the brain which triggers a release of the body’s feel-good endorphins. Humor lowers levels of cortisol, the “stress hormone,” and increases immune function. Less stress = more health. Laughing uses various muscle groups that help the body relax and it can even burn calories. An aid to digestion and more, sometimes a deep uplifting belly laugh can release a little pee or a fart. It oxygenates the blood and energizes the soul, and is used to help treat depression, protect against heart disease, improve tolerance to pain, and support people coping with longterm illness. There is powerful medicine in mirth, even though laughter can be contagious. Humor also enhances memory, because who can remember jokes and deliver that all important punch line? It’s improving mine. I increasingly remember things that never happened.

Humor helps us be better humans. It’s a universal language that inspires smiles, giggles, guffaws, hearty roars, and happy tears. The cerebral joy of a good laugh is a peak creative experience, a natural high when we let go of inhibitions and are present in-the-moment. When we’re alone or laughing aloud with others, the funny bone tickled can stimulate a positive placebo effect in mind-body-spirit and is the way to wellness. Whatever the juxtaposition of unconnected ideas and goof ball irony that creates it, humor is a primal human expression that communicates our silly side. It dispels our grumpy moods and makes us vulnerable to surprise, improvisation, and happiness. It relates truths and untruths, as expressed by the highly creative cartoonists, satirists, and pundits in the media today who are having a renaissance in the hilarity of reality.

Need a little comic relief? Join me and my senior friends for shared foolery and lots of creative fun at the Art HOPE Studio Spring Cabin Fever Reliever at the York Housing Authority – Village Woods Wellness Center on Tuesday, March 22, 1:30 to 3:00 pm. We are a lively group and if you want to hear a cheesy joke…it’ll be pretty gouda with some wise crackers.

The wonderful drawing is from an Art HOPE volunteer, thanks R. L. for sharing your gentle cheerfulness.

Live and Love Strong

ArtHOPE-Live and Love Strong

The Heart Resilient – Live and Love Strong

It takes strength to live and love because life is full of heavy lifting. The heart is a muscle that pumps the blood rich energy of life through our body to keep us living and it’s the center core of our loving. This powerful organ is about the size of your fist and is where the beat goes on with every breath in every moment of your lifetime. If you are ever out of balance, just listen to the heart’s “lub-dub, lub-dub” rhythm and entrain your breath and vibrational energy to the beat. Everyday living and loving keeps the heart rate in pace with our lows and highs, stresses and joys. It feels, opens, radiates, and sometimes breaks, and it always keeps us going. The heart strengthens with use – the more we live and love with stamina, the more we feel vitality and positive affect. Continue Reading →