Campaign for Older Adult Library Patrons

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We ended the 2008 Lifelong Access Institute (see following post) with Fellows sharing their “elevator pitches” to key stakeholder groups- their management and staff, advisory or governing bodies, and to older adult library patrons themselves. Here is what we heard from the 2008 participants:

Making the case to the community:
“Public libraries are essential in helping individuals and communities navigate an ever more complex culture with less and less social social services. If we can successfully engage boomers, they can help ensure that libraries evolve in relevant and cost effective ways for future generations to come and sustain a democratic society of informed, engaged and skilled citizens. Can we count on you to support our library initiative?”

Making the case to potential partners:
“You know we have health information. And because we’re neutral ground and have trained librarians, the information can be trusted. But, did you know the library is also a brain health center? We stimulate minds, connect generations and collect legacies of wisdom. We can reduce unnecessary emergency room visits with information, by reducing loneliness and keeping minds active. Let’s talk about how we can partner.”

Making the case to colleagues and/or the board:
“We’re reaching out to a new and expanded population.This group has high expectations for themselves and for what library services they feel they should be offered. We have such a strong infrastructure for youth services, and we should be bringing an equally strong commitment to our adults as well. This advocacy is important because it has long-term implications due to longer life spans. This is a way to cultivate a powerful advocacy through votes, money, and influence.”

Carolyn Caywood, 2008 Lifelong Fellow and librarian at the Bayside Special Services Library in Virginia Beach, prepared this 3-minute overview of her Lifelong Libraries project for the Virginia Beach Public Library management team:

Senior Services Plan

Slide 1 Image: Whistler’s Mother at 67
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* What assumptions do we have about “seniors”? [feedback from audience]

* We need to get past these assumptions and explore possibilities, see positive aspects of aging. What can we as library users hope for, as we grow older?

Slide 2 Image: Westminster Canterbury Calendar

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* Life after 65 has changed. Boomers are better educated, more diverse, and more likely to live through their 70s than any previous generation. But Boomers will not use libraries and reading in the same ways that their parents did.

* Life for older adults can be a time of liberation, creativity, wisdom, and community-building. Libraries are uniquely qualified to facilitate these positive aspects of aging.

* The large population who will “age in place” in Virginia Beach will drive public policy decisions about land use, transportation, and tax revenues. We must engage these older adults in support of City services rather than in competition with other service needs.

* Boomers are predicted to work in retirement and we need to adapt our expectations of volunteering and part time jobs to take advantage of their expertise. We need to support “re-careering” aspirations in addition to leisure reading and lifelong learning.

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