Anyone who knows me knows how fond I am of my grandparents. There are no people in this world who are as kind and generous as they are. Also if there were a “Best Hugger On Earth” contest, I’m positive my grandma would win. And yes, I’m sure I’m sort of biased on this topic, but I think the number of completely unrelated people who also lovingly refer to them as “Grandma & Grandpa” totally backs me up on this one. Thinking of my grandparents, who are both in their 80s and still very actively involved in their community, made me think about how libraries can get older adults involved, and what we can do to better serve this ever-growing population group.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 19.8% of North Dakotans were age 60 and over. By 2025, the U.S. Administration on Aging projects those aged 60 and over to comprise nearly 30% of our state’s population. In providing programs and services targeted to older adults, libraries have a great opportunity to connect with this active and involved segment of our communities, and to cultivate a vibrant group of library supporters in the process.
In her book 5-Star Programming and Services for Your 55+ Library Customers, Barbara T. Mates provides some helpful suggestions for developing library programming targeted to older adults:
- Involve older adults in program development. Ask them what sort of library activities they’d be interested in. Ask their opinion on the best time of day to schedule activities. Create a senior advisory board to help with library and activity planning.
- Partner with community groups. There are likely other groups in your community with similar interest in supporting the older adult population. Reach out to them to pool your resources and manpower to carry out your mutual goals and efforts.
- Make sure the program site is accessible for people with low vision, hearing loss, limited mobility and dexterity, and other disabilities to ensure all attendees can participate equally and comfortably.
Mates’s book has a lot of other great information and ideas, and is available for loan through the NDSL online catalog. Here are some other resources to help you get started with developing programming for older adults in your library:
- ALA’s Guidelines for Library and Information Services to Older Adults provides guidance for program development, budgeting, library collections and facilities, outreach services and more.
- WebJunction’s Older Adults & Seniors topic page highlights programming ideas from public libraries around the country, including additional web links and helpful resources.
Have you planned and implemented programs for older adults in your library? Share your experiences with us!