Serving seniors in the library


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  • Library planners must address many issues. What makes planning for older adults different from planning for other adults, or teens, or children? How will library collections address the needs of older adults? How can technology be used to expand services and resources? How do we market library services to the 60+ audience? Can we turn a 70-year-old non-library user into a library user and advocate? How can the library contribute to successful aging?
  • Source:
  • Source:
    30.3% of Hoosiers:
    GI Generation: 1901 to 1924
    Current ages 113-90
    Silent Generation: 1923 to 1943
    Current ages 91-71
    Baby Boomers: 1946 to 1953
    Current ages 68-61
    Young Boomers: 1954 to 1964
    Current ages 60-50
  • Aging is a highly individualized experience
    These are generalization, at best.
    Use obvious color contrasts when preparing print documents. Avoid using violet hues in print publications, as this is one of the first colors seniors amy lose from field of vision
    Provide library card applications and other print materials in large print. Be sure that the paper has a matte finish rather than a glossy finish.
    Allow the person extra time to complete reading and writing tasks.
    Those with low incomes are more likely than those with high incomes to face these challenges.
  • No ageism! Lois Lamden, the author of Elderlearning, states that ageism is the most ironic of all prejudices, since we are all headed toward old age.
  • Check with your local agency on aging.
  • Are we too youth-oriented? Is the library unwelcoming to older adults? If we are going to dedicate special areas to welcoming and serving specific populations, that shouldn’t end when our patrons turn 18.
    Children and teen areas focus on services, so should dedicated senior areas.
  • Old Bridge Public Library, NJ
    -Good clear signage.
    -Quiet and accessible - nothing too high or too low. Lots of seating. Well lit, but cozy. Wide spaces between tables and shelves.
    -Game area, whether traditional board games, or modern gaming software.
    -Computers set to large print or assistive technologies set up and readily available.
    -Control glare in the library and add task-lighting that can turn on dynamically.
  • In addition to having a dedicated area for seniors to relax and enjoy the library. Consider having a dedicated collection in that senior space. You may have duplicates of items in other parts of your main collection, but this will greatly enhance the usability of your senior space.
  • More than large print!
    iPods are not just for twenty-somethings!
  • Not all-inclusive
  • Researchers point to a number of factors that will enable adults to experience successful aging. Among these are proper diet, good humor, and exercising one’s body and mind. In fact, there are scientists who believe that human beings have a built-in “biological clock,” which would run for 130 years if no diseases or illnesses affected the body.
    The library is the perfect community agency to help patrons exercise their minds and bodies, and keep their sense of humor. If we keep our own.
  • Remember, this population can be diverse, educated, lively, energetic, etc. Don’t box yourself in by thinking about stereotypes.
    Different times for programming will appeal to different facets of your senior population. Again, asking your seniors is key!
    Ninety percent of older adults state that they learn best by putting their hands on something and manipulating it.
  • Senior Travel: A senior who went on a trip would lecture and show slides (pre-powerpoint) of pictures from the trip.  This was great because seniors got to share things they did, and seniors who couldn't travel because of health or cost could share in the trip.
    Some libraries offer Free Blood Pressure Screening after senior programs
  • Much like a job fair, have a senior community fair at the library. Invite local agencies and clubs to staff tables.
    Chance to find members for your new advisory board.
  • By no means an all-inclusive list.
    These can provide support services to library patrons:
    -Dealing with big decisions as the result of an aging parent or spouse and unsure of options.
    -Programming opportunities for elderly patrons
    -Outreach opportunity for library to collaborate with another agency
    -Health databases offered in INSPIRE
  • Serving seniors in the library

    1. 1. Surfing the Senior Tsunami Serving Seniors in the Public Library
    2. 2. Generation quick facts 04/14/14 Indiana State Library 2
    3. 3. Generation quick facts 04/14/14 Indiana State Library 3
    4. 4. Facets of Aging “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” Mark Twain
    5. 5. Potential Challenges • Physical – Decreased Mobility – Decreased Hearing and/or Eyesight – Health issues • Social – Intergenerational households – Financial fraud – Budgeting for a different lifestyle – Digital literacy – Isolation / Loss of independence 5Indiana State Library04/14/14
    6. 6. Potential Benefits • More time to spend with grandchildren and family • More free time – Travel – Hobbies • Engaged civic leadership – Volunteering 6Indiana State Library04/14/14
    7. 7. Aging paradigm • Negative cultural associations with aging. • Reality is: – we are all aging. – many of us have same life experiences regardless of age. • Library is community center for all levels of life. – Early childhood development, High school equivalency, Second career, Personal development 7Indiana State Library04/14/14
    8. 8. Know Your Community The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball. Doug Larson
    9. 9. Stellar Library Service • Paradigm of ageism • Same customer service approach applies! – Attitude, Understanding, Patience, Respect – Internal terms=Late adulthood, Older people, Older adults – External terms=Focus on interests • Find an example!!! 9Indiana State Library04/14/14
    10. 10. Stellar Library Service • Mentoring/coaching our colleagues – Leadership/communication development – Demonstrate and teach mutual generational respect • Professional development resources for continued learning: – Extra-legally ably challenged (ELAC) workshop – Indiana Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, • Partnering – With community groups 10Indiana State Library04/14/14
    11. 11. Ask Yourself…  What are the projections for the aging of your community in 5, 10, or 15 years?  Do you know how many seniors use your library?  How many seniors in your community have library cards?  How many attend programs? 11Indiana State Library04/14/14
    12. 12. Develop a Plan • Inventory current services • Assign dedicated staff (if feasible) • Do your research! – American FactFinder – Indiana State Library - State Data Center • Include in your strategic planning process – Indiana libraries who include aging adults as one of their target audiences? • Create an advisory board and include appropriate representation from your community. 12Indiana State Library04/14/14
    13. 13. Discussion • Please work with one or two colleagues sitting next to you. • Discuss some the challenges and benefits of aging as reported by your patrons, their spouses, children and grandchildren. • ???? • Write down some notes to share with the group. 04/14/14 Indiana State Library 13
    14. 14. Accessible Spaces Everyone is the age of their heart. Guatemalan Proverb
    15. 15. Dedicated Space • Children’s Area √√ • Teen Area √√ • Adult Area? Children and teens only make up 26.9% of Indiana’s population vs. 30.3% of 50 and older Hoosiers. 15Indiana State Library04/14/14
    16. 16. Accessible Adult Spaces
    17. 17. Discussion • Please work with one or two colleagues sitting next to you. • Discuss changes your library could potentially make to your library space. – Short term (easy, relatively inexpensive) – Long term (involved, more costly) • Write down some notes to share with the group.
    18. 18. Senior Collections Youth is a disease from which we all recover. Dorothy Fulheim
    19. 19. Dedicated Collection • Different generations – Varied interests & needs • Modified Dewey – Easy, browsing format • Large Print • AV, E-Books, Downloadable Audiobooks • INSPIRE Virtual Library 19Indiana State Library04/14/14
    20. 20. Areas of Emphasis • Consumer Health – Issues of Caregiving – INSPIRE: Medline Plus • Genealogy – ISL & Allen County Genealogy Collections – ISL: Indiana Memory • Employment – INSPIRE: Testing and Education Reference Center • Finances & Retirement: Indiana Secretary of State’s Office • Computers – Goodwill Community Foundation Digital Literacy classes • Hobbies – INSPIRE: Hobbies and Crafts Reference Center – INSPIRE: Home Improvement Reference Center 20Indiana State Library04/14/14
    21. 21. Senior Programming The key to successful aging is to pay as little attention to it as possible. Judith Regan
    22. 22. Programming • Day, Afternoon, Evening, & Weekends • Variety – Engaging, Creative, Nostalgic, Hands-On / Participatory • Structure – Linear with hands-on exercises – Co-instructors who work one-on-one with individuals – Pair up different generations 22Indiana State Library04/14/14
    23. 23. Sample Programs • Movies and book clubs • Games and gaming • Travel series • Senior-led or community-expert led presentations – Expertise – Hobbies • Art classes, crafting • Gardening, cooking, sewing, etc. – Storytelling 23Indiana State Library04/14/14
    24. 24. Technology Classes • Barriers to using new technology – Physical barriers – Skeptical about benefits – Hands-on assistance • Potential tech classes – Basics of Computing – Internet security – Photography – Social Networking 24Indiana State Library04/14/14
    25. 25. Discussion • Please work with one or two colleagues sitting next to you. • What classes do you already offer? What classes would you like to offer? • Write down some notes to share with the group. 04/14/14 Indiana State Library 25
    26. 26. Marketing It's sad to grow old, but nice to ripen. Brigitte Bardot
    27. 27. Traditional • Newsletters • Newspapers • Church / Synagogue Bulletins • Radio 27Indiana State Library04/14/14
    28. 28. Modern • Websites • Email Newsletters • Social Networking • Text / Mobile Marketing 28Indiana State Library04/14/14
    29. 29. Local Connections Grandchildren don't make a man feel old; it's the knowledge that he's married to a grandmother. G. Norman Collie
    30. 30. Collaboration • Don’t forget Outreach! – Leave the library and go talk to people. • Trade newsletter space with other organizations • Senior Community Fair – Opportunity to spotlight services and organizations – Great beginning for Advisory Board 30Indiana State Library04/14/14
    31. 31. Discussion • Please work with one or two colleagues sitting next to you. • List some external organizations that your library partners with for programming. • Write down some notes to share with the group. 04/14/14 Indiana State Library 31
    32. 32. Reference resources on late adulthood None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm. Henry David Thoreau
    33. 33. Indiana Agencies • Family and Social Services, Division on Aging – – Includes listing of regional agencies • Leading Age Indiana – • Indiana Association of Area Agencies on Aging – 33Indiana State Library04/14/14
    34. 34. National Organizations • American Association of Retired Persons – • Federal Administration on Aging – • EPA Age Initiative – 34Indiana State Library04/14/14
    35. 35. Senior Spaces  Old Bridge Public Library, NJ   Tempe Public Library, AZ   Cuyahoga Public Library, OH  35Indiana State Library04/14/14
    36. 36. Sources • Kleiman, Allan. Serving Seniors With Panache, Lyrasis Workshop, October 26, 2009. • Kleiman, Allan. Senior Spaces: The Library Place for Baby Boomers, Older Adults & Their Families. World Library And Information Congress: 74th IFLA General Conference And Council, 10-14 August 2008. Québec, Canada • A closer look at Gadget Ownership. June 28, 2012. Ownership.aspx • Generations and Their Gadgets. February 3, 2011. • Growing Old in America: Expectations vs. Reality. June 29, 2009. • Older Adults and Internet Use. June 6, 2012. • Serving Seniors: A Resource Manual for Missouri Libraries. 11/1/2009 • New York Times - New Old Age Blog. 36Indiana State Library04/14/14
    37. 37. Thank You! Shauna Borger Indiana State Library Professional Development Office Supervisor 317-232-3718