You might not expect a university library to be saying goodnight at 8:30 p.m., with many students studying into the wee hours. But for a few weeks now, the Sciences Library has been doing just that. Only, it isn’t saying goodnight to Brown students. It’s saying goodnight to patients at Hasbro Children’s Hospital.
The Library joins a handful of other Providence organizations that flash their lights four times in succession for one minute at 8:30 p.m. each night, signaling “good-night-Has-bro” to the children looking out the hospital’s windows. Other participants in the initiative include the Biltmore Hotel, the Hot Club, and the Providence Steamboat Company. Known as “Goodnight Lights,” this initiative began when Steve Brosnihan, Hasbro’s resident cartoonist and board member of the Tomorrow Fund for Children with Cancer, began flashing the lights on his bicycle as a way to wish goodnight to the children he had visited. He noticed that this simple act lifted the spirits of the children who saw the light, and lifted his spirits in turn.
Brosnihan wanted to expand the program by involving organizations in buildings visible from Hasbro. The Sciences Library (known at Brown as the “SciLi”) is clearly visible from many patient rooms, making it a perfect fit for the program. Brosnihan explains, “The Library looks like a lighthouse from Hasbro Children’s Hospital as it is. I also love the idea of connecting Brown, whose [Warren Alpert Medical School] works so closely with [Hasbro Children’s Hospital] and with the kids who are hospitalized.”
The Brown University Library and staff at the SciLi couldn’t agree more. Currently, a security guard stands on the 14th floor of the Library and blinks a high-powered flashlight for one minute each night at 8:30. “On some nights, as soon as the signal is received we see lights flashing in the hospital windows in return,” says Harriette Hemmasi, University Librarian. “The children wait for us and know the flashing lights are meant for them. It may seem like a small way of connecting but it’s one way of letting the children know we’re thinking of them and that they’re not alone.”