“Blind Date with a Book” promotes healthy habits


Photo Courtesy of Preus Library Facebook

Students entering Preus Library are greeted by a cart filled with "anonymous book dates."

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, Preus Library held a romance- themed event called “Blind Date with a Book.” From Feb. 12-17, students could pick up a random book from the event display, take it out for an evening, and enjoy its company.

This event was scheduled for when students returned to campus and found themselves back in the anxiety-inducing environments that new classes and new faces can create. To help reduce stress, the event focused on promoting leisure reading.

“What we do is pick a couple of books from our leisure reading collection and wrap them up in paper and write a date description, like a personal ad for the book,” Instructional Technology Librarian of Preus and founding member of this event Holly White said. “The idea is to encourage people to read outside of their comfort zone, or maybe pick up a book that they might not normally. It can be a really great way to unwind and get yourself out of the college mindset or the bubble you are in.”

The books were chosen from the library’s leisure reading section to promote students’ free reading, instead of reading for academic purposes alone.

A 2017 United States Census Bureau report found that, of the nearly 20 million students enrolled in a college or university

in the United States, around three quarters of those surveyed had experienced “overwhelming anxiety” while in a higher education setting. The stress of college life can lead to a greater issue, which the Mayo Clinic calls “college depression.”

According to the Mayo Clinic‘s website, “College students face challenges, pressures, and anxieties that can cause them to feel overwhelmed. They might feel homesick. Often for the first time in their lives, they are living on their own, adapting to new schedules, new responsibilities, life with roommates, and figuring out how to belong.”

The Mayo Clinic further emphasizes the importance of interacting with other students, staff, or faculty to combat college depression. The library has many resources for students, but most importantly, it offers support for everyone in the community.

“It’s a place that you should be able to come and feel like you have a sense of ownership, and a sense of place, a sense of belonging,” White said. “Whether that’s to come and use a study room, or come and checkout a book for leisure reading, or just to find a quiet space to watch the snow. I think that’s the most important thing about the library. That this is a space that belongs to all.”

Participant Hannah Kerchner (‘22) spoke of how challenging it can be to balance free reading and a double-major class load.

“I enjoy reading, but at the end of the day, it can be very hard to fit it in,” Kerchner said.

“However, I think that programs such as the “Blind Date with a Book,” as well as courses such as Young Adult Literature, help students stay connected to that part of their life.”

Preus Library’s “Blind Date with a Book” aims to help students balance work and free time, which students can struggle with during the semester. The event was structured to not only highlight the library’s extensive collection of popular and best selling books for all in the community to read, but also to alleviate the stress and pressure which students, faculty, and staff face. The library employees hope that Luther campus members will carry the importance and benefits of leisure reading beyond the Valentine’s week initiative.

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