Arts Sciences


Bart De Nil

Public libraries: social infrastructure for creative health. The impact of health and wellbeing activities on staff

My Supervisors: Dr Thomas Kador (Principal), Prof Helen Chatterjee (Subsidiary) and Dr Alison Hicks (Tertiary).

The last decades public libraries are being asked to take on new roles, one of those is to become part of the social infrastructure promoting public health and tackling health inequalities through creative health. This has forced library staff to seek out new partnerships and learn new ways of working. This research seeks to explore the impact of this turn towards creative health on the skills and practices of library staff. The empirical research focuses on libraries that developed a cultural heritage-based creative health programming for newly arrived immigrants. This choice is informed by a recent call by the World Health Organisation and the EU for support for the mental wellbeing of forcibly displaced people through art and culture.

The health and wellbeing programming for newly arrived immigrants is, in general, connected to the core business of public libraries. There’s hardly any research into activities that use heritage. Therefore, this research into the practice cultural heritage-based creative health activities in libraries and the impact it has on the skills and knowledge of library professionals covers new grounds. It would also answer the calls within the research community for more focused research designs outside the realm of library and information sciences. It’s an interdisciplinary research (Arts & Sciences and Information Studies) with in-depth qualitative case studies in the UK and Belgium.