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Library's installs light therapy lamps to stave off winter blues

The Yellowknife Public Library is offering a potential remedy to the deep winter blues.

Jessica Davey-Quantick/NNSL photo
Library Manager John Mutford says library-goers have been receptive to the new light therapy lamps.

Light therapy lamps have been installed at four studying carrels for library-goers looking to brighten up during the darkest days of the year.

Manager John Mutford says the lamps are part of efforts to create a holistically healthy space at the library.

“When somebody is feeling down, or depressed, or sad because of the lack of light, then having that source (of light)... they're able to mentally attend to their literature more,” Mutford said Thursday.

The Carex Health Brand lamps emit UV-filtered white light, but no heat.

The lamps were set up in early November, said Mutford, and patrons have been using them “since day one.”

Light therapy has been used to treat seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression brought on by the cold and dark of winter, but research suggests it can also help with other kinds of depression.

A study led by University of British Columbia researchers and published in JAMA Psychiatry in 2016 found that light therapy can improve the “overall wellbeing” of people living with non-seasonal depression.

Mutford says public feedback to the lamps at the Yellowknife library has been positive.

Anecdotally, he said, “there's been people receptive to them and saying that they do notice a difference and that they're happy with them.”

He said the library chose Carex lights, which cost around $180 each, because it wanted to source the lamps locally. The lamps were purchased at The Medicine Shoppe on Old Airport Road.

Carex Health Brand recommends sitting under the lamps for 30 minutes, but library staff likely won't ask anyone to leave who wishes to bask in the glow for longer.

“We don't police it,” said Mutford.

Curious Yellowknifers can try light therapy for themselves at the library on the second floor of the Centre Square Mall downtown.

The library will be open from 1 to 4 p.m. on New Year's Eve and closed on New Year's Day.

Regular hours will resume on Jan. 2.