Finding Your Way Back Outside

If you haven’t been outside to play, explore, or just be, for a long time it can seem a little daunting. Where do I go? What do I need to take? What will I do? These are all very legitimate questions. 

The Alameda Free Library (AFL) has recently started a new program, Libraries Outside, in partnership with the National Park Service, the East Bay Regional Park District and Alameda Recreation and Parks Department to provide access to information and materials that will support everyone in returning to time spent outside. This is a multi-faceted program focusing not just on children, but also on teens, adults, seniors, families and individuals.

The library has received a small grant from the California State Library in support of this project. Funds from the grant will go to creating 20-day packs loaded with field guides, binoculars and first aid kits that can be checked out by anyone with an AFL card (basically anyone who resides in the state of California is eligible for a card). 

The packs will be supplemented with a host of materials from our partner parks including trail guides, historical information, Jr. Ranger type activities and more — many in English, Spanish and Chinese. There will also be resources available for those who may need visual or audio assistance in the parks and for those who need a smoother trail to follow. 

Additionally, and especially for those who haven’t been outside much, there will be presentations by park staff to acquaint us with the parks. These naturalists and rangers are trained to help us find the outing that works best for us. If you don’t have backwoods skills they aren’t going to suggest you head into the wilderness for three days. 

They are all very excited to help us begin, or continue, the process of just getting out there. They will also be providing guided hikes (an easy way to learn and gain confidence on the trails) and workdays in the parks (because it’s important to be able to give back). 

The Bay Area is home to more than 120 parks. If you were to go to one park per week, that would take you more than two years. We’ve got maritime sites, historical sites, lakes, short trails and long trails, urban parks and wilderness and wildlife galore. 

We have the wonderful weather that makes it possible to be outdoors for almost the entire year. And now we have help. Find your way back outside. It’s beautiful out there. 

Learn more at www.librariesoutside.us, at the Alameda Free Library’s project blog or by calling 747-7777.