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Toronto Public Library is conducting a pilot program allowing users to access light therapy lamps at two branches, Malvern and Brentwood.

Light therapy lamps are designed to mimic spring and summer light levels as a way to treat the "winter blues" or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression with symptoms that include fatigue, lethargy, anxiety, weight gain and sleep disorders.

How the service works

Where can I use it?

The branches participating in the pilot program are Malvern and Brentwood. These lamps are stationed in the branch for use in the library. Each location has two lamps, available on a first-come, first served basis. The lamps cannot be taken out of the library.

Why does the library provide it?

Research by the Canadian Mental Health Association suggests that 2-3% of the general population of Ontario have SAD and another 15% have a less severe experience.

Light therapy lamps can be expensive to purchase. This service provides all Torontonians the opportunity to use light therapy if they require it.

How to use a light therapy lamp?

Turn the lamp on and sit, read or work in front of it for 20-30 minutes. For sensitive users, gradual exposure is recommended. Sit about 2 feet away. Face the lamp and allow the light to shine on your face but not directly in your eyes. Do not stare directly into the light. Adjust the angle of the lamp to suit your position.

Are the lights safe to use?

Light therapy is considered to be safe. Side effects are rare and if they occur they are usually mild and can include nausea, headaches and/or eye strain. There are no known long-term side effects of light therapy. If you experience discomfort, stop using the lamp and contact your doctor.

People with certain medical conditions (retinal disease, macular degeneration or diabetes), and those taking certain medications (melatonin, thioridazine, or lithium) should consult a doctor before using light therapy lamps.

The light therapy lamp should not be viewed as a cure, and other measures including staying fit, sleeping well and eating healthy are also very beneficial for treating the symptoms of mood disorders. Use of the lamp is at your own discretion. Toronto Public Library is not liable for any health issues related to the use of the lamp.

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