Has your Library Gone to the Dogs?

With the recent stories about disasters, legal wrangling, and futurism, let's look at a hands down, slam dunk, win-win idea for libraries: dogs! Many school and public libraries use therapy dogs in their reading programs, calming children to widespread acclaim. Academic libraries also make use of therapy dogs, calming homesick students during finals week. These projects involve minimal costs and have a profound impact. Don't let a lawyer or administrator use absurd logic to deny you this wonderful opportunity to have patrons perceive the library as a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere. And remember: refusing to allow a service animal in to a building is also a violation of federal law. What are your dogs in libraries stories?


UB has held two "Stress Relief Week" events for students over 3-4 days in the middle of exams, and are just planning our 3rd event to be held in December. The positive feedback has been overwhelming! Students absolutely love having the dogs, as well as 10 minute chair massages and sustenance (coffee, tee, water, snacks).

One of our librarians happens to be a member of a local therapy dog resource group, and so is able to secure two therapy dog teams for each of 2 shifts per day, at both our north and south campus library locations. Having multiple dogs makes it much easier for both dogs and people. Our student wellness department supplies the massage practitioners, and staff pitch in to work the event, making sure coffee urns and snack baskets are kept filled, and many staff also bring in baked goods and donate other staple items.

One tip for anyone wishing to plan a similar event is to be sure it is held in a separate community room or area, away from study areas. This accommodates those who love the animals as well as those who may be allergic or afraid - they aren't exposed unless they choose. Another is to be sure to set up the refreshments AWAY from the dog interaction area - therapy dogs are usually well trained, but no need to torture them with easily accessible goodies. They will snarf enough crumbs off the floor.

Take a look at some happy students and dogs! http://www.flickr.com/photos/ublibraries/collections/72157629586706374/

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