A Doggone Good Time: Therapy Dogs at the Library

Sorry, I couldn’t resist the title. I know….I know…

I’ve been seeing posts and pictures recently of other library therapy dogs events. Who doesn’t like to see some doggie pics? So I thought I’d throw in my own experience:

Today was the library’s 3rd annual visit of therapy dogs (technically they’re outreach dogs–dogs that have passed their canine good citizenship test). It’s something that the students eagerly look forward to (and now come expect!) as fall semester Final Exams begin. We had 16 dogs with us today and several hundred students.

It’s a great way to put a different face on the academic library: to show students we care about their mental well-being. We want them relaxed for Final Exams. We want to relieve those jitters for a little while. This gives them an opportunity to take a break from studying if for just a bit.

I blogged about the broader topic last spring – De-Stressing for Student Finals –  and a colleague and I gave a presentation on marketing and outreach activities such as this last year: Creating an Engaging Library: Marketing from the Group Up.

For the library it costs little money. The local kennel club participants volunteer their time for free. Our marketing is via the library website, Facebook, and Twitter. We spent some money printing posters. It’s also important to be in contact with your parent organization’s risk management person to make sure the appropriate paperwork and insurance forms are filled out. Otherwise, it’s a pretty easy event to handle.

Concerns about noise and allergies? Although that’s definitely a legitimate concern, we’ve heard very little comment. We’re lucky in that our library is 7 floors. For us, it boils down to this: The event takes up 1 floor for 2 hours on 1 day a year. You have to balance the reward with the consequences. For us, the reward is overwhelming: This is an event that students look forward to. Students are lined up on the floor waiting to see the dogs as they come into the building. Want to see more? Check out these pics:

18 thoughts on “A Doggone Good Time: Therapy Dogs at the Library

  1. We don’t do this for teens at my library, but for little kids — we have a Tail Waggin’ Tutors program for younger children to read books to dogs if they’re shy about reading books to people. Of course, all age groups come over to say hi to the dogs while they’re in the building.

  2. We’ve done this for three semesters now. The dogs come in for a couple hours Mon-Thurs during pre-finals week. Huge hit with students, staff, and faculty!

    -Bierce Library, University of Akron

  3. Omaha Public Library hosts therapy dog sessions weekly at two of our branches. In fact, one of the therapy dogs Devon was on television a few weeks ago to promote the program! Kids love it/them. Great post!

  4. Question to those of you who host therapy dog sessions in libraries. How much does putting on such a program cost beyond advertising costs? Thanks for your response.

  5. Awesome! It’s amazing what dogs can do. We have a reading dog at the library I work at. She is a trained therapy dog and her name is Bridget. The Assistant Director helps train dogs, and Bridget had such a love for kids. So the Assistant Director and Bridget go to schools and third graders read to her. The state law of Indiana says students can’t move on to fourth grade until they can read. The kids feel confident reading to Bridget rather than in front of their class or teacher. It’s amazing to see Bridget light up and walk over to a child.

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