We all know that libraries are places of quiet reflection, and a hive of activity. Students and the wider community have enjoyed all manner of events and resources in libraries across the region, and the country at large. Reading and online book clubs have become so important during the COVID-19 pandemic. But what role do libraries have in terms of health and wellbeing, and especially, educating people about death and dying?
The Death Positive Libraries initiative was founded in 2018 and since then has grown due to user demand and public visibility. Our research project is a cross-country collaboration between Redbridge, Kirklees and Newcastle libraries and a research team from Northumbria University – Dr Stacey Pitsillides in the School of Design, and Dr Claire Nally in the School of Humanities. It treats death and dying as a health and societal issue but seeks to engage the wider public in the concept of libraries as death positive spaces and their collections of books as creative resources that push us to consider our own mortality. So the wider questions we are asking relate to the role of literature and culture during times of trauma, such as death and bereavement. How can libraries provide a resource for the public seeking to understand death even before a crisis or bereavement?