The Human-Nature Connection
Posted on January 2, 2019
Humans need more than food, water and shelter. They also crave knowledge and a connection to nature. That lifelong pursuit to learn, grow and improve ourselves seems to be built into our DNA. Lucky for us, modern human societies have a long history of working together for the greater good. Over the past 100 years or so, we have made strides to support and enhance life as we know it on planet Earth.
So, you may be wondering what the connection is between the Library and Metroparks Toledo. Here are five things they have in common:
- They are both great community resources
- They both have tremendous appeal for all ages
- They both have a long and rich history
- They both offer a wide variety of educational programs
- They both add to the quality of life in our area
Learn more about the history of the Metroparks in the Toledo area:
Metroparks of the Toledo Area: Toledo Stories from WGTE
Interview with a Librarian
Recently, I sat down with Jennifer Day, one of our Adult Services Librarians, to talk about a partnership effort with Metroparks Toledo. Jennifer usually works out of Main Library’s Business-Technology Department, but with the Main Library closed for renovations she’s been doing a lot more community outreach. She’s been working closely with Jim Funk, Manager of Institutional & Community Initiatives, to expand our partnership efforts in the local area. Below, you’ll find an interview transcript along with some really great library resources.
AS: How long have you been working with the Metroparks though the Library’s partnership effort?
JD: I started working with the Metroparks in 2015.
We started out really small, because Jim Funk had just started the year before and we were trying to find community partners like Toledo Museum of Art, Imagination Station, Toledo Metroparks and so on.
What we would do was promote different events at the Metroparks (maybe twice a year) for events like their Outdoor Adventure Expo, which is in May. We would put up a big book display at Main Library and post signs promoting the Metroparks event along with related books. This was to encourage people to see that connection between the Metroparks and the Library. Basically, they could learn more about the various topics at the Library.
AS: I noticed on the Metroparks blog that they feature a select number of Library books. Is that part of the partnership effort as well?
JD: That is absolutely part of the effort. It’s called Librarian picks.
The Metroparks sends out a weekly newsletter. We asked if we could include 2 book recommendations, one for adults and one for children, in their newsletter at least once per month (Librarian picks appears in the first newsletter of the month). We include a picture of the cover, our description of the book and a link directly to the Library catalog for people to check them out.
I’m really excited about one of the upcoming themes, which includes books related to treehouses. There’s a children’s series known as “the 13-story treehouse.” With every new treehouse book they add more stories to their treehouse. It’s about these two boys who have a bowling alley, a swimming pool, and just all these wacky things in their treehouse and it gets more elaborate with every new book. There are maybe 6 or 7 books in the series. So, people will see that when they open the Metroparks newsletter. And they are going to think real treehouse at the Metroparks and my kids can get these books and read one of them in the treehouse.
AS: It’s a really great way to meld together two seemingly unrelated concepts. To make people realize that they are actually connected. That you can go to the Metroparks, but you can also learn more about what you see there at the Library. Isn’t that the point?
JD: Yes, exactly! Absolutely!
Highlights from Librarian Picks
AS: Are there any noteworthy projects that you have worked on over the past 3-4 years that you would like to talk about?
JD: Yes. We have done quite a few.
We did the Walking Audiobook Challenge, which was through the Summer Reading Challenge. The basic idea is to encourage people to check out an eBook on Audio and listen to it while they’re running or rollerblading at the Metroparks.
We did a cross-promotion to get the word out. Basically, the Metroparks included the information on their website and we had it on ours as well. We were trying to create a kind of synergy to let people know they could be at the Metropark, but could also be learning about a lot of things at the same time. For example, you could borrow the latest Brene Brown book, stream it or download it to your device, and learn how to be a brave leader. Or kids could check out educational or imaginative eBooks to listen to them while on a trail. Kids and adults receive points for logging books read or listened to as part of the Summer Reading Challenge and after so many points they’re eligible to win prizes.
JD: We’ve also done a system-wide flashlight frenzy where the Metroparks and Library both purchased flashlights. We gave them out to kids (and some adults too). It was just to try and encourage people to read every night, by flashlight, which is kind of a novelty.
The idea for the flashlight frenzy program began when my kids didn’t want to go to bed. I was trying to figure out a way to get them to go to bed. So, what I did was gave them an option: you can read or you can go to sleep – those are your two options. Not surprisingly, they always picked reading. And so the flashlight just kind of adds to that idea. You’re getting under the covers and secretly reading. You don’t want to make mom and dad mad, but really mom and dad are really happy that they’re reading.
Books to Read by Flashlight
AS: What kinds of programs have the Metroparks done at the Library?
JD: In the past, they’ve done birding programs, official field trips for kids, seasonal scapes (painting with an Instructor), a fly fishing course and local history themed program.
AS: I can certainly see the connections
Books on Birds, Fishing, History, Art and Nature
AS: Any other programs to note?
JD: One thing I didn’t talk about was this … a joint program put on by the Library and the Metroparks, which was a first for both organizations.
In September, we had a speaker/author come in. Florence Williams, author of “The Nature Fix,” joined us for a joint program with both the Metoparks and the Library. It was really neat. She talked about the connections between being creative and rejuvenated as a result of going out into nature and just getting fresh air, listening to the sounds and walking.
Both organizations promoted the partner program. The Metroparks included it in their newsletter, blog and website … and we promoted it on our end as well. It was a successful program/effort. There were a lot of excited people. When she started asking questions you found out that many of the audience members worked for local non-profits that were interested in that connection. So, we think a lot of good ideas and thoughts for our community as a whole came out of her coming to visit.
JD: I think we’re not quite there yet in Toledo … like the West Coast … places like Seattle, Los Angeles, and so on. Areas where people are outside all the time and really get that connection with nature, but progress is being made all over the area to make it more of a reality here in Northwest Ohio. Now, you hear more people saying things like – I got some great ideas on my walk yesterday morning – I never thought that would come just from walking outside.
AS: Yeah. I used to walk more at the park than I do now and would have some of the best conversations. You don’t really think about the real value in something so simple. It’s the activity and the fresh air – it does something.
JD: Yeah … the new scenery helps too.
Books on the Human / Nature Connection
AS: I think it’s really amazing that we have so many great Metroparks. How many Metroparks are there now in the Toledo Lucas County area?
JD: I’m not sure off the top of my head. But one thing most people probably don’t know about the Metroparks is that their goal is to have a park within 5 miles of every single resident of Lucas County. And they’re actually almost there. They have one more park opening this Spring and they will have reached their goal. This is pretty awesome for us and our quality of life. I can’t tell you how many big cities would love to have that.
AS: Is there anything else you would like the public to know about the Metroparks, the Library and this amazing partnership?
JD: One thing I haven’t talked about (and haven’t talked to the Metroparks about yet either) is the possibility of having the book bike at some of the Metroparks events. I want to put that on the map.
Metroparks Toledo has been really active with the bike sharing program in Downtown, Toledo. They’ve always been involved with the bike culture in our area. I just want people to be aware that the bike culture is expanding. TLCPL is definitely part of that bike culture that the Metroparks has always been known for in our area.
AS: We’re also seeing a lot of new bike paths and developments to make biking in our community more convenient. There are so many great things in our area that people don’t realize or think about on a regular basis.
JD: Yes, I know what you mean. We have an amazing Art Museum, Symphony, Library system and Metroparks.
AS: It definitely makes for a better quality of life.
We have some really amazing Metroparks programs scheduled for January through May 2019 – we hope you’ll join us!