Thank you to OLOS for sponsoring our program today.
A great deal has been said about boomers. We hope not to repeat too much of it. You know all about the pig in the python. Hope to offer some practical inspiration to help you plan programs and partnerships in your library. Jane: This diagram that Mary Catherine Bateson shared with us is an illustration of the new situation that we find ourselves in – where it was common for three generations to exist simultaneously in the past , now it is common for four to co-exist. Leading to new stresses and opportunities – e.g. the stress of sandwich generation, and the opportunity to go on learning and contributing much longer.
It can be difficult to justify boomer programming when they are already seen as spoiled – we want to avoid that kind of generation-bashing. Our programs attract more than one generation, and that’s good. We need to be less apologetic about the importance of serving adults. And we need to remember about the importance of voters and engaging everyone as they age – when the boomer cohort is what we call old-old, we still want them to be engaged with the library. Those of us who were engaged in the golden age of libraries are still connected. AND – we really want adults in midlife to volunteer – more about that later.
Abigail: Multnomah County Library Located in Portland and eastern suburbs Many amenities for boomers already 4 th highest retirement state right now.
Jane and Abigail were blessed to attend the Lifelong Access Libraries Institute, which was created by Libraries for the Future The institute was four days of intensive classes and workshops, with great speakers like Mary Catherine Bateson, Paul Nussbaum, and Robert Butler, among many others Fame and fortune – we presented at Transforming Life after 50: Boomers and Public Libaries Pasadena conference Presented at 3 rd Lifelong Access Libraries Institute Results: Conversation, planning, finding partners, developing full menu of boomer programs. Inspired, but we knew there were limitations on what we could do when we got back to our normal jobs – no dedicated space, no significant staffing, etc. Getting the 35,000 ft view and then coming back to earth.
So partnerships become important – when you do not have the resources or expertise yourself. But we don’t have to develop all that, as librarians have been prone to thinking in the past. Venture outside of the library itself. We’ve all had the experience of sitting down at a table of community leaders, and enlightening them as to what the library can do. It’s the omigod where have you been all my life syndrome. We are going to talk about a partnership that is essential to our serving adults in midlife at MCL.
Life by Design:Review mission statement: “ The mission of Life by Design NW is to support people as they age in discovering their passion and purpose so they engage their wisdom and skills to strengthen the community and achieve personal fulfillment.” “ Go-To life planning resource in Oregon” Classes, gatherings, web site. Partners and grant Pretty complicated partnership Nevertheless, obtained Atlantic Philanthropies grant, which funds staff and activities, notably, MCL and HGOP Review web site- six areas Emphasize that the library is everywhere in it: events, books, etc.
Jane: Began as conversation a few years ago, developed into innovative consortium of government, nonprofit and business: MCL PSU Institute on Aging HOGP AARP Oregon OPB PCC
Just launched the Life by Design web site, which is meant to be the foundation of their operations from this point forward. Emphasize that the library is everywhere in it: events, books, etc. For example: book resources: buy or borrow Resources from grant and library .5 staffer, programming funds Library infrastructure: marketing, collection, meeting spaces Programming team Bunch o’ boomers on the staff, both theirs and ours
More ways that library is integrated into web site – events, up-to-the-minute resources from library Challenges Working out a complicated partnership Figuring out how not to duplicate or step on toes Staff is answerable to two organizations, but it needs to be kept clear that Bess is a library staffer Play to our strengths – do library stuff, let HOGP do volunteer stuff, etc. Don’t duplicate other offerings Exception: try to offer stuff free that costs elsewhere
WHAT KIND OF PARTNERSHIPS HAVE WORKED WELL FOR YOU? STORIES TO TELL?
Jane: One of the major partners is H0GP, in fact, the only other outside org with staff paid for by the grant. and volunteerism is integral to the program. We look at volunteerism as a service to the volunteers, as a way to enrich their lives, and enhance their skills, not just as a way to get work done. Abigail: Fixler-Freedman ideas on volunteer motivation
Three models of volunteer motivation with credit to Jill Fixler Friedman First model is the “worker volunteer” . Enjoys the social aspect, structure and continual learning of the workplace Ongoing work to create social bonds Creates a sense of purpose and accomplishment Opportunities for growth – and variety of jobs and tasks
Sense of teamwork Ongoing relationships Opportunities for leadership
Second model is the “Consumer Volunteer” Limited hours in the day; often still working Flexible schedule Episodic volunteer Example: has a project that can be done with flexible hours; leading a project Ideas: develop booklists; book discussion guides Facilitate book groups, conduct surveys, lead a research project; conduct survey; serve as speaker or presenter
Citizenship classes might appeal to the “Consumer Volunteer” because they are a six week commitment Other projects included enhancing the curriculum, which could be done at home as a special project. MCL recruited immigration lawyers to help with one piece of the curriculum Libraries will never have this expertise on staff (e.g. lawyers, curriculum developers, etc) so this work doesn’t conflict with union contracts.
Final model is the “Activist Volunteer” Boomers came of age in a time that witnessed impressive gains in human, environmental and civil rights. Deep desire to make a difference. Appeal to this group by talking about literacy in the broadest sense (technological, economic, financial, health) Example is CyberSeniors-- - bridging the digital divide Right to read…right to access information…
An example of a great activist volunteer project: Help the library be welcoming to all Appeal to personal politics Make a difference in someone’s life
WHAT KINDS OF STRATEGIES HAVE WORKED BEST FOR YOU WITH BOOMER VOLUNTEERSS? STORIES TO SHARE?
Here’s the third element of successful library service to midlife adults: programming It is also our most visible, the place where you see really our efforts at appealing to this cohort. Building on our partnerships and using volunteers, we have been able to offer a strong series of programs. I’d like to offer some advice here on marketing to boomers; Appeal to people by interest, not age. Please do not make any more flyers with bulgy psychedelic tie-dyed lettering on them. Market by afiinity and be glad that have intergenerational audiences, if that’s who you get. Examples: Senior movie night vs. classic Sunday cinema. Body-builders attending brain workshop, because of their mother.
One inspiration for MCL programs was this series at Alameda Co Richard Bray, fellow at LFF The big questions- this was intriguing to us
Partnership with Stanford Common thread – many aspects
1 st series tackeld by our Life by Design staffer Caring for your aging parents Understand what a caregiver is Mix the light and the heavy – death and knicknacks (emotional and physical burden of transitions in parents’ lives) Make it super-useful
Books to Action Work with partner HGOP – they do most of the marketing and registration Pick good books – use library expertise Rely on volunteer group for their expertise
Books to Action Work with partner Pick good books – use library expertise Rely on volunteer group for their expertise
Community and Connection A little more cerebral, a little edgier Topics from racism to Bright Neighbor kind of practicality This got a great response, despite not that exciting graphics etc.
Perspective on Positive Aging Occasional series Luminaries – make sure that speakers are good speakers, not just experts Demanding audience Pay for speakers
. HAVE YOU HAD A SUCCESSFUL PROGRAM THAT YOU CAN SHARE -_ THAT HAS APPEALED TO MIDLIFE ADULTS?
Jane: So now you have programming and volunteers, and you don’t want this good stuff to be just a flash in the pan. How to: Integrating boomer programming into SOP Spread the notion that this is a cohort with its own needs, not because they are boomers and therefore special, but because as every generation ages, midlife comes, and has similar turning point and issues. Keep advocating, bringing up adult needs in programming meetings
Fold into other ways that we do business Example: facebook Find your allies in and out of the library -
Use whatever is happening, demographics, economy. A couple of years ago it was all about enrichment and early retirement. Now it’s not. Lots of boomers work in libraries; are good advocates for these services – in particular look to your volunteer coordinators – they know boomers. Youth services – make the case to them – their constituents have parents and grandparent. Another way to solidify your program is to form an advisory committee. Don’t automatically shy away from orgs that have names that sound too old, like senior centers and your local aging services agencies – they have similar interests and expertise and want to keep up with the times, too. At least talk to them. Move to more open trend: labs, forums, discussions, workshops – away from formal classes and presentations
Recommend the book It gets at the heart of the desires and hopes of boomers – it will help you figure out how to appeal to adults in midlife and bring wonderful new program and volunteers into your library. As Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot said in an interview with Bill Moyers: “” And we're ready for something new, for a new experience, for a new adventure. And I think all of us, to some degree, experience some burnout. Burnout is not about working too hard. Or working too diligently or being overcommitted. Burnout is about boredom. And so, I think in some ways this is about sort of moving beyond the boredom to compose, to invent and reinvent the path that we're on.” If you have any final stories or questions, we’d love to hear them. Thank you so much!
Civic Engagement: A Success Model for Libraries Serving Older Adults Jane Salisbury Abigail Elder