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Using Libraries to Help Families Heal


Have you had a pet die?  Have you experienced the death of a loved one?  Does someone you know have alzehimers? Have you been impacted by separation or divorce? How do you talk to children about these situations? Is there a library in town?  Wait, how are these things connected?  I promise they are, give me a chance to explain.

When traumatic events happen to children in your care it can be difficult to know where to turn to help your family heal.  Many caregivers do not know how to breach difficult subjects that they themselves are often still processing.  Michelle Stinson, the Springfield Town youth librarian said “Families in distress often turn to the library for guidance. We needed a caring and thoughtful response to help families through these stressful and often confusing dynamics.”  Books can be very healing and help children understand what is happening as well as a conversation starter, but Michelle knew we could do more.

The Springfield Town Library has recently added Healing Library kits to the collection. These kits were the brain-child of a team of professionals who determined a need to assist families after periods of trauma that encompassed many forms of healing. They recognize that families are unique and deserve the opportunity to build their own journey of healing with the highest quality experiences and materials without the stress of research and shopping following their trauma. Using their expertise of play therapy, social work, literacy and child development, they created kits to help families heal. Each kit consists of specific books, crafts, activities and a guide with tips on how to discuss these difficult subjects with children.

As a recent participant in the Springfield Promise Community grant, we learned that the Library is known as a social hub – a safe public place that provides friendly engagement from experienced front line staff where all are respected. The Springfield Town Library is a place where people of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds gather, learn and seek information. This made them the natural partner for this initiative.

The Healing Library kits were the brain-child of a team of professionals who determined a need to assist families after periods of trauma that encompassed many forms of healing. They recognize that families are unique and deserve the opportunity to build their own journey of healing with the highest quality experiences and materials. Using their expertise of play-therapy, social work, literacy and child development the team created kits to help families heal. Each kit consists of specific books, crafts, activities and a guide with tips on how to discuss these difficult subjects with children.

Armed with the guidance of the team of professionals who designed the healing kits, BBF Regional Coordinator, Ellen Taetzsch started gathering materials for the kits.  She included creative supplies such as stamps, scissors, watercolor paints and paper, beads, cards, and loads of special tools for creative exploration. “I wanted to include an array of materials so that all families with children a variety of ages could find healing in these kits.  We know that supporting families to create relationships within the family and community, identify coping strategies, and work through their trauma helps create a resilient community, benefiting all,” Ellen said. The books were purchased by the Friends of the Springfield Town Library (FOSTL), the discussion and activities guides were downloaded and printed at the library.  A true team effort!

The Healing Library Kits that the Springfield Town Library currently have are:

  • Death of a Loved One
  • Death of a Pet
  • Alzheimer’s and Your Family

The library is currently working to raise the funding for the Here and There: Separation and Divorce kit.

Springfield Town Library cardholders are able to check these kits out just like other library materials.  Area providers and agencies also have access to these kits.  Please contact the library if you are interested in borrowing a kit.

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