I will be strong…

New Year Resolutions“Now there are more overweight people in America than average-weight people. So overweight people are now average. Which means you’ve met your New Year’s resolution.”

That’s Jay Leno, trying to let us all off the hook. He set me wondering about New Year’s resolutions – whether they were worth bothering with, whether anyone took them seriously.

When I mused out loud in the library, a colleague smugly told me that she always made resolutions, and furthermore she usually kept them, courtesy of Westminster Libraries. I feel your lip curling; so did mine. I tried not to sneer, but my grimace was telling. Prove it, I challenged her. She took the challenge.

She started with health, always a tricky subject. I could feel my tummy grow, and a tickly cough coming on, before she’d even started.
I hadn’t got her marked down as a smoker, and I was right, but only partly. She had, it seems, been a smoker and a heavy one at that. And she’d given up with the help of Allen Carr’s self-help book.

Allen Carr's Easy Way to Stop SmokingI’ve always passed self-help books with my nose in the air, but I checked the catalogue and found several titles by this guru, and there were multiple copies of each title, which proves that they get borrowed frequently (otherwise they’d get the chop – no room for non-movers in the modern lending library). My colleague assures me that Carr’s advice helped her to stop smoking, and to stay off the weed.

Another colleague (they were gathering round now, eager to stake their own claims to be resolute) told me that he was inclined to put on weight. Hmm… not as inclined as I am, I thought, but I didn’t say it out loud. I just waited to hear his secret.

NHS Choices”, he announced, “made me the man I am.” Now, I’ve come across NHS Choices: it’s a website (a Key Link, no less, on Westminster Libraries Gateway to Websites), which I had used to guide library users towards their nearest NHS doctor or dentist. It’s great for this; they’ve even started to include patient comments, so soon there will be nowhere for rude receptionists to hide! But why use it for losing weight?

It turns out that I had merely scratched the surface of this website. There are pages and pages of self-help stuff, with Losing Weight for the girthly-challenged, and Healthy Eating to help you keep up the good work once you’re back in shape. Booze? – yes, they do that too.

While I was browsing the site, a library user came and watched over my shoulder. “I wish I could do that,” she said. “Learning about computers is my New Year’s resolution.”

I pounced.

Learning NexusI didn’t actually jump on her, you understand; that sort of thing can give offence. But it was my turn to be the smarty-pants. With a few clicks I reached one of our very own Westminster Libraries web pages, with details of classes and courses and tasters and all the other ways we can help people get online. Another click, and I was showing her Learning Nexus, an online collection of self-study programmes, with one set for IT and another series for small business topics.

I had to leave it there. My tea demanded to be drunk, my biscuit to be dunked. As I sipped, I thought I might jot down a few New Year’s resolutions. Just as long as I could get some help…

[David]

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