JCPL column: Experience nature at the library

Life can be stressful. Daily demands and unforeseen distractions can take their toll on our psyches and our bodies. The last few years are a testament to how life can throw a lot at you. Health professionals constantly preach the importance of finding ways to de-stress and slow down. There are a number of recommended solutions out there – meditation, yoga, mindfulness and more. The library has many books and resources to help learn those techniques. But there’s one resource you might not associate with the library – nature.

There are many documented benefits to experiencing nature, including stress relief, improvement in mood, and an increase in happiness. Studies have shown that even 10 minutes spent in a park or urban wooded area can bring immediate feelings of restoration and stress reduction. Time spent in a natural environment has also been shown to improve a child’s ability to learn and focus, reducing symptoms of ADHD.

I work at the JCPL’s White River branch and love the view out of the large windows overlooking the forested area behind the library. Seeing the profusion of green leaves dappled in sunlight provides a respite from the fast pace of the day. As a self-proclaimed bird nerd, I spearheaded a project several years ago to put up some bird feeders and add some comfortable seating inside by the windows. This allows you to relax and enjoy the view. A handy poster of Indiana’s backyard birds helps you identify the feathered visitors.

Recently, through the help of the Greenwood Wild Birds Unlimited store, we expanded our bird feeding area to become a Certified Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation. We now have some additional bird feeders, a bird bath (heated in the winter), a wren house, a downy woodpecker house, a hummingbird feeder and a nesting box attached to the window so you can see inside. Soon we will be adding two bat houses and some bird- and bee-friendly native plants. Inside we have a large dry-erase board where we note recent sightings. Right now, from inside the branch, I can hear the bubbly song of a house wren who is energetically building a nest in the wren house just outside the window. That happy song always makes me smile. I smile, too, because this habitat helps support the creatures and critters we share this space with and provide us so much enjoyment.

The White River branch is not the only branch attuned to nature. Our Trafalgar branch is surrounded by native prairie, complete with prairie grass, wildflowers, a nature trail and bee hives among other natural features. You’ll read more about that here in the coming weeks. The newly built Clark-Pleasant branch in Whiteland is developing a community garden, a nature area with bird feeders, and will launch a pollinator garden this fall.

Next time you visit the White River branch, take a moment to sit in our comfortable chairs by the windows and enjoy the calming effect of our wildlife habitat. Soak in the green energy and watch the activities of our feathered friends. If you have your own habitat at home or elsewhere, don’t forget to check out our birding backpacks which contain binoculars, books and nature activities. Don’t let a day go by without a few doses of nature’s stress-relieving remedy.

Linda Kilbert is the White River Branch Manager for Johnson County Public Library. JCPL staff members share in writing this bi-monthly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to [email protected]