Patrons of the Upper Arlington Public Library now have access to lamps that medical experts say can help ward off seasonal blues and depression and combat sleep disturbances and even jet lag.
In recent years, officials from all three branches have sought to build material resources in less than typical ways.
Beyond books, magazines, DVDs, CDs and vinyl records, the library has added items such as TV antennas, WiFi hotspots and “inventive kits” that allow young people and others to explore science, technology, engineering and math concepts and lessons.
“We have always sought to serve our customers in different ways,” said Kate Porter, assistant director of the library. “In addition to books and media, UA relies on us for things like meeting rooms, study spaces, research assistance and fun events.
“Offering new types of items to customers is just another way to meet the needs of our community.”
On September 1, the library’s latest non-traditional resource – six therapy lamps – became available. Circadian Optics light therapy lamps are UV free. Users simply plug them in, press the power button, and relax sitting in front of them.
It is recommended to place the lamps at a distance of 16 to 24 inches from the face. Users should keep their eyes open, but not looking directly at the light, for approximately 20-30 minutes per day.
A March 30, 2022 article from the Mayo Clinic said that lamps may be particularly helpful in treating seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that typically occurs each year in the fall and winter.
“A light therapy box mimics outdoor light,” the article says. “This type of light is thought to cause a chemical change in the brain that improves your mood and alleviates other symptoms of SAD, such as being tired most of the time and sleeping too much.”
Dr. Samar McCutcheon, a psychiatrist at Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University and associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral health at OSU College of Medicine, said she recommends people see a primary care physician before use therapeutic lamps, as it is important to have a clinical evaluation to verify that this treatment will be beneficial.
“If your symptoms are consistent with seasonal affective disorder, treatment options to consider include lifestyle interventions, antidepressants, light therapy, and psychotherapy,” McCutcheon said. “For mild to moderate seasonal affective disorder, some may choose to use light therapy alone.
“Light therapy is delivered with a 10,000 lux light box used daily in the morning for about 30 minutes. For comparison, a typical household light bulb is about 100 lux. You can expect to see improvement in symptoms by a few weeks. using the softbox.”
McCutcheon noted that possible side effects “are generally mild, but may include worsening of other psychiatric conditions, headaches, or eye strain.”
Library officials also said people are recommended to use light therapy under the supervision of a medical professional if they have a condition that makes their skin particularly sensitive to light, such as lupus. disseminated erythematosus; if they are taking medications that increase sensitivity to the sun; if they have an eye condition that makes their eyes vulnerable to damage from light; or if they have bipolar disorder.
Nancy Byron, associate and project coordinator for the Miller Park branch, said the Friends of the Library provided the $365 grant to purchase the six lamps and their protective cases.
She said the library offered a variety of books on mental health, stress relief, anxiety and self-care. The lamps were added as the library prepares to launch a ‘You Are Not Alone’ awareness campaign in October, designed to provide families with the resources they need to explore various mental health issues, read more about community resources, gather information and break the stigma of asking for help.
“We chose October for this campaign because it coincides with World Mental Health Day on October 10 and Mental Health Awareness Week, observed October 2-8,” Byron said.
Rates of depression in the United States more than tripled at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an October 2021 study at Boston and Brown universities. Those rates have continued to rise, now affecting one in three Americans, according to a study from the Boston University School of Public Health.
“The light therapy boxes were originally designed to help with seasonal affective disorder, but can also be used to help with general depression as well as sleep disturbances and even jet lag,” Byron said. “We thought adding light therapy boxes to our loan collection would help customers struggling with these conditions and give them a chance to ‘try out’ these lights for free before investing in one of their own.”
To reserve a lamp, go to tinyurl.com/mt7cnbn8 and search for “light therapy lamp”. Lamps circulate for 28 days and are not eligible for automatic renewals.
They can be picked up at any of the three locations and must be returned in person, not in book scraps, Byron said.
Byron added that library officials expect the lamps to be in high demand over the coming winter months.
“We encourage people to visit our catalog and reserve one so they can be placed on the waitlist, if needed,” she said.