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BRIEF: Light therapy lamps shine through the winter months

The Bellingham Public Library offers materials to ward off Seasonal Affective Disorder

A person sits curled up reading a book with light emanating from it, keeping away the dark. Light therapy lamps can be paired with other materials available at the Bellingham Public Library to stay cozy through the winter. // Illustration by Sam Fozard

Light therapy lamps have joined the Bellingham Public Library’s collection to uplift patrons’ spirits through the winter months. 

Annette Bagley, head of community relations at the library, explained that the idea was brought forward by a guest back in August 2023.

“They have been so popular we have added additional lamps to the collection, and there are now 66 available to borrow,” Bagley said in an email.

Light therapy has been used to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder since the 1980s by exposing people to high levels of light during the darker months. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, SAD is more common in northern populations due to the shorter daylight hours in the winter. 

“The light boxes, which are about 20 times brighter than ordinary indoor light, filter out the potentially damaging UV light, making this a safe treatment for most,” according to NIMH.

After an initial donation of $1,000 from the non-profit organization Friends of the Bellingham Public Library, staff were able to develop the kits that are now in circulation. 

“Light therapy lamps circulate just like books,” Bagley said. 

Patrons can use their library card to place a hold request online and get on the waiting list. When a lamp becomes available, they receive a notice and can pick up the light at the location they choose. 

The lamps have been available since Dec. 15, 2023, with enough holds that the Whatcom County Library System decided to contribute more, as well as another $1,000 donation from Friends of the Bellingham Public Library. An additional 13 kits joined the circulation on Feb. 6, 2024. 

For more materials to ward off the winter blues, the library offers Discover Pass kits, music streaming and staff reading recommendations.

Halley Buxton

Halley Buxton (she/her) is a city life reporter for The Front. She is in her final year at Western with a major in creative writing and a minor in journalism. In her spare time she loves reading, writing with friends and collecting CDs. You can contact her at

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