Libraries: Gateway of Knowledge Art and Relaxation in Libraries

University of Michigan Law Library Interior
Source: Wikimedia Commons

By Gabrielle Passick

“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Season’s Greetings

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to all! This year, we have explored the role of libraries in several different areas, including career preparation, learning new languages, and accessing music resources. We have also discovered the “Greatest Libraries of the Ancient World” and “Greatest Librarians of Our History.” To conclude 2021, we will dive into the world of art and relaxation in libraries. These tools will help you to lessen stress. Art and relaxation will direct your attention to creativity, wellness, and positivity. Although this is not a simple task, libraries will help you along the way.


For my birthday, I had the opportunity of attending a watercolor painting program for adults. The attendees created a watercolor mosaic in the shape of triangles. Believe it or not, this free event was hosted by a public library. The library provided all of the paints, canvases, sponges, and brushes. The library even invited an artist who presented a live tutorial. These events are commonly found within libraries.

Source: Gabrielle Passick

The New York Public Library (NYPL) recently hosted crochet and knitting events via Google Hangouts. Anyone can apply to receive an NYPL library card; you do not need to live in New York. The Museum of Modern Art offers online art classes available via Coursera. Santa Clara County Library offers many resources to its patrons, including access to art-related books and media, as well as pre-recorded art instructional videos. Artistsnetwork has numerous free art tutorials on painting and drawing.

Many other libraries will host art events and classes for adults, young adults, and children. These classes may even include painting dinosaurs for the kids, cooking, creating wicker baskets, and knitting scarves. Creating origami out of scrap paper and drawing mandalas are also activities offered at libraries to de-stress. The Smithsonian Libraries have an extensive LibGuide on Art and Design Resources. The Libraries and Archives lists resources from databases, collections, research, and the specific art-related libraries of the Smithsonian.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

It is best to check your local library’s site and social media pages they may have for activities in your area or online. If you are able to travel, here are the 20 Best Museums and Galleries in the World, according to TimeOut. Additionally, your local library may offer passes to visit museums at no cost. Dover Public Library lists the museums on its website that are available for both cardholders and the general public. Does your library offer this service?


On the subject of art and relaxation, it is important to recognize poetry. Libraries will often host open mic events, poetry workshops, and special guests. More events are being hosted via Zoom, which is very convenient. The Public Library of Brookline, Massachusetts is currently hosting a poetry series via video call. The Society of Classical Poets has a list of the 10 Greatest Poems Ever Written. Orange County, California Public Libraries are active participants in Poetry Out Loud 2021. This competition is geared toward high schoolers. Poetry Out Loud encourages teenagers to broaden their knowledge of poetry and to implement expression while reading these literary works. To read more about Poetry Out Loud, please click here.

Wallace Reid reading with his dog. Photographer credited as Stagg, 1917.
Sources: Wikimedia Commons and Public Domain of United States

Book Discussions

Book discussions are another way to relax. Libraries tend to host the discussions in a flexible format. I have heard of libraries hosting these meetings at a local coffee shop or brewery! These activities are a great way to relax and meet new friends. The American Library Association has an extensive list of Book Discussion Groups, including a directory. Check out BookClubz’s site for more book discussion clubs within a less formal setting. You can even start your own!

Presently, I am in the middle of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. I have formed a reading group with friends abroad. Which book are you currently reading?

Have you seen the Best Art Books of 2021? Most likely, your library will have these books available for you to check out. The Top 20 Art Magazines & Publications is another excellent resource to utilize.


Are your eyes exhausted from computer screens all day? Do you still have to read from an e-book? Audiobooks are the answer! Audioblog recommends 6 Audiobooks and Activities for Relaxation. This site features audiobooks that are perfect for your day of relaxation. On BookRiot, there is also a list of 6 Meditation Audiobooks to Help You Harness Your Inner Peace. Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library lists four incredible resources for accessing audiobooks. Your local library might have its own collection of audiobooks. If not, here are 14 Websites to Find Free Audiobooks Online.

Meditation and Fitness

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Now, let’s explore books on meditation. The site, verywellmind, lists seven of the best books on meditation. Meditation is a very broad term that can even be connected with making your daily cup of coffee in the morning. Maybe the definition of meditation for you is cooking, exercising, or playing piano. Another helpful list of calming books can be found on tolstoy therapy. I remember taking a Tai Chi class during my music degree. This was one of the greatest decisions I made during this time. The deep breathing and slow movements helped release the tension from my clenched jaw and stiff shoulders. The Farmingdale Public Library is currently hosting a series of workout classes for its patrons. It is worth checking out the fitness and meditation resources on Spartanburg County Public Library’s page. Yoga classes are very common in libraries. There is nothing better than taking time for relaxation and focusing on wellness.

Dogs at the Library?

Yes, you read that correctly. Although this may seem unusual, dogs might appear at the library. Specifically, we will be discussing therapy dogs. This year, Yale Law School’s Library hosted therapy dog activities. Similar to a regular book, the law students were able to check out the therapy dogs for an allotted time. Rochester Institute of Technology hosted a similar event for its students, faculty, and staff in 2019. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) published an article from 1988 on the cardiovascular effects of human-pet dog interactions. Our four-legged friends significantly contribute to our relaxation and well-being. Aside from assisting us in stress relief, therapy dogs are proven to assist children in learning to read. Have you seen the study from the Wildest regarding children’s reading performance in the company of their tail-wagging helpers? New York Therapy Animals even has a Children’s Literacy Program called, “R.E.A.D.,” or Reading Education Assistance Dogs. The program aids in improving children’s learning, reading, and other crucial skills with the help of therapy animals. The children in the program read directly to the animals. R.E.A.D. focuses on the needs of kindergarteners to third graders.

Concluding the Year

2021 certainly was a challenging year. It is important to focus on the blessings of life such as family, friends, hobbies, art, and relaxation. Libraries can help you along the way. As always, never feel afraid to ask a librarian for help. Librarians are here to serve you with any information you may need. They are what make libraries a gateway of knowledge. Stay tuned for next year’s content. Thank you for reading!

Library: Gateway of Knowledge – Collection:

Gateway of Knowledge Libraries and Career Preparation

Gateway of Knowledge – Language in the Library

Gateway of Knowledge – Music in the Library

Gateway of Knowledge – Greatest Libraries of the Ancient World

Gateway of Knowledge – “Greatest Librarians of Our History”


  1. The 7 Best Meditation Books of2021
  2. 12 calming books to help you take a deep breath and relax
  3. Fitness Classes for Adults
  4. NYPL Classes & Workshops
  5. Therapy Dogs’ Presence Steadily Grows in Libraries
  6. Brookline Poetry Series
  7. 10 Greatest Poems Ever Written
  8. Knitting and Crocheting for All!
  9. The Museum of Modern Art Coursera
  10. Creativebug: Art & Craft Classes
  11. Artistsnetwork Free Tutorials
  12. ARTnews Best Art Books 2021
  13. Top 20 Art Magazines & Publications
  14. 20 Best Museums and Galleries in the World
  15. 6 Audiobooks and Activities for Relaxation Day
  16. 6 Meditation Audiobooks
  17. 14 Websites to Find Free Audiobooks Online
  18. Join a Book Club
  19. Borrow a Dog at the Library
  20. Cardiovascular effects of human-pet dog interactions
  21. Macie the therapy dog visits RIT
  22. What Happens When Kids Read Books With Dogs
  23. R.E.A.D.
  24. Museum Passes
  25. Poetry Out Loud 2021
  26. Art and Design Resources