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Toronto public library offering light therapy lamps to help fight winter blues

Light therapy lamps will now be available at two Toronto libraries.
Light therapy lamps will now be available at two Toronto libraries. Erica Vella / Global News

The Toronto Public Library is introducing light therapy lamps at two locations in the city as part of a pilot project allowing visitors to take refuge from the dark days of winter.

The lamps were introduced to Brentwood Library and Malvern Library on Monday and are available for public use.

Saeed Osman, who visits the Brentwood Library often, had a chance to bask under the lamps’ glow and said they were a “great idea.”

READ MORE: 5 ways to beat the winter blues and stay happy beyond ‘Blue Monday’

“On a day like today, it’s very depressing. It’s very damp. You try and stay indoors and because of that if really affects your mood,” Osman said.

“[The lights] give people a chance to come to the library and sit down and read and gain that sunlight exposure they are lacking.”

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Tiziano Vanola, Brentwood library’s branch head, said the lights are meant to help those who experience forms of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

“The lamps are one of the tools to combat [SAD],” Vanola said.

“In Ontario, the Canadian Mental Health Association says two to three per cent of the population suffer from SAD. We also know that 15 per cent of the population have a mild case called the ‘winter blues’ and so we thought this would be a good service to offer to our residents of Toronto.”

The Toronto Public library is the third public library in Canada to introduce the therapy lamps.

Edmonton and Winnipeg introduced the lamps to the public library system in 2014 and 2016, respectively.

Family physician Dr. Yoel Abells said he is on board with the pilot project, adding it’s a great alternative for those affected by winter weather.

“[The lights] can affect positive mood for patients who do have Seasonal Affective Disorder,” Abells said.
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“So, you got something has therapeutic value and preventative value and it’s being made to everyone for free.”

The lights come just days after one of the cloudiest Januarys recorded in Toronto in almost 20 years.

READ MORE: Toronto’s January really has been its darkest in years

“Only about 58 hours of sun the entire month of January,” Global News chief meteorologist Anthony Farnell said.

“That makes it the cloudiest January since 1998, so almost 20 years.”

The lights will be available on a first come, first serve basis at the two libraries and Vanola said they will be collecting feedback from visitors up until the end of April.