Libraries Innovate to Serve Older Adults

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Some people claim that 70 is the new 50. Whether or not that is true, data clearly show an increase in the number of Americans over age 65. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that the number of older Americans will nearly double by the year 2050. Between advances in health care and increased expectations for continued engagement in the public sphere, today’s aging population is more active than ever. Library programming reflects this shift, particularly in public libraries where seniors are already dedicated consumers of library services.

In 2014, with funding from an Institute for Museum and Library Services grant, the Lifetime Arts Affiliate Network launched a multi-year project with dozens of public libraries to provide arts instruction for older Americans. As a member of this network, Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) introduced Creative Aging, a series of in-house and on-location arts workshops that teach everything from painting to poetry to dance. Each BPL series culminates with a showcase of the work created during the workshops. The Living Room at Santa Monica Public Library was created with funding from a Library Services and Technology Act grant and is intended to reengage Baby Boomers with the library through programming, classes, performances, and a physical space to gather. With a full calendar of activities across all of its branches, the Living Room promotes the library as a public square, connecting adults with each other and with opportunities to discover, watch, listen, discuss, and grow together.

Springfield Greene County Library celebrates lifelong learning but also recognizes that some of their community’s older members are not able to come to the library. Thus, it brings its Stories for Life programming to senior centers across the county and engages participants with stories, poetry, games, and local history. The monthly programs honor the voice and experience of seniors, stimulate memory, and connect people through the power of written and spoken words. How does your library innovate to serve older patrons? Let us know! Email: futureoflibraries@ala.org.

Learn more about how libraries are innovating in response to societal trends on the Libraries Transform website.

Visit ALA's Center for the Future of Libraries for an indepth view into the impact of societal trends on libraries.

Center for the Future of Libraries

The Center for the Future of Libraries works to identify trends relevant to libraries and the communities they serve; promote futuring and innovation techniques to help librarians and library professionals shape their future; and build connections with experts and innovative thinkers to help libraries address emerging issues. Learn more at www.ala.org/libraryofthefuture.

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