Public Libraries are the unsung heroes in our modern society. Can you imagine any other place like them? In a capitalist sea of stores and businesses where purchases need to be made to gain continued access to the space, public libraries remain one of the only truly “free” places in our society. They are places where people can enter and immediately feel welcomed and safe without the pressure to spend their hard-earned money.
Just what exactly do they offer? Public libraries allow members of a community to come in and access all kinds of wonderful resources such as books, e-books, DVDs, music, and free programming pertaining to interests of kids, teens, adults, and seniors! Gone are the days of libraries being considered quiet and stuffy spaces; in fact, it is quite the opposite. These spaces have had to transform in order to remain relevant, and transform they have. With more of a customer service-based model, public libraries want people to come in, to feel welcome, sign up/attend their programming, and to check out their materials. Any attendance in their programs and any items checked out help increase library statistics. To receive funding from their municipality, libraries need to keep track of all of the wonderful things they do throughout the year and submit those numbers. The higher their statistics, the higher their potential payment to operate.
What does this mean for a death doula? It means that your local public library is the perfect place for you to try to implement some collaborative programming. Libraries can be the perfect place to offer workshops, Death Cafes, Grief Circles, etc. If you are looking for a way to showcase your skills and expertise in a public setting, this could be an excellent starting point. When you feel confident with your skills and want to become more known in your community, this can be a fantastic opportunity.
Most librarians are receptive to having a conversation with potential partners to explore what a partnership could look like. Libraries can provide the physical space to meet, the tables and chairs, basic technology, and even a small description of the event in their monthly programming guide to help market your event. Death doulas can provide the knowledge, the skills, and the unique programming that can draw people in. Both parties can benefit from a partnership in regards to providing content and engagement to your community. Remember to be courteous and polite when having these conversations with your librarians. You want to sell your skillset, but you want to be mindful that not everyone will be on board with collaborating. That is okay! Don’t give up; try another library.
Programming partnerships are becoming more common amongst death care workers and public libraries. The Niagara Falls Public Library has hosted numerous Death Cafes and Grief Circle events, many of which have been hosted by HHA Death Doulas. The Ottawa Public Library also has consistent death care based programming offered both in-person and online. Take a chance to search your local library’s events and programming website to see if there are already events happening, or to see if you could be the one to start them!
In addition to the programming aspect of public libraries, they are also a treasure trove of information and resources that you can use in your daily work as a Death Doula. Literature options are growing for death care based texts. Buying these books can be pricey when you are first starting out. Consider checking out the book from your library. If the book you want is not in their collection, most libraries can request material from other libraries outside of their municipality. You can expand your knowledge and “toolkit” for free, and the library can increase their circulation statistics.
Public libraries are an invaluable resource for all communities and for death doulas. Take the exciting first step and reach out to your library today.
Having fun isn’t hard when you have a library card!
Gabrielle Lahaie is a graduate of HHA's death doula certificate program as well as an IPLD candidate. She graduated from Brock University with a B.A. Hon and attended Humber College for their Funeral Service Education program. She has been active in the Death Care industry since 2019, helping families deal with loss and grief.