Creative Age

In Virginia Beach, we have started a weekly program, Tuesdays @ Two, in the afternoon for older adults, though we’re letting people self-select to attend based on the time of day.  Attendance fluctuates with the weather, but this week has been warm and we had 19 people. 

I took the opportunity to experiment.  One inspiration was Gene Cohen’s The Creative Age, which is about much more than the arts but does talk about how his “Liberation Phase” inspires older artists.  I prepared to talk about artists who changed style or methods as they aged, especially how they dealt with disabilities, like Renoir who had rheumatoid arthritis. 

Another inspiration was the movie, In Winter Still, that I saw in the ALA exhibits last summer.  An excerpt is at This is a fictional story about Claude Monet.  The movie went over very well and so did my presentation.  We then proceeded to “paint” a mural with colored paper and glue sticks and everyone got really into it as you can see. 

painting with paper

painting with paper

February 12, 2009 at 5:25 pm Leave a comment

New Study on Postsecondary Participation Among Older Adults

Diantha Schull writes:

Lifelong Access Colleagues,

With the turn of the New Year, we are all focusing on the key roles that libraries can play in the lives of 50+ adults, especially in the context of increased longevity and worsened economic conditions.  A new study by the American Council on Education underscores the importance of post-secondary education opportunities for older adults.    This study may be helpful to you as you consider lifelong learning programs in 2009 at your library.   It may also be helpful in framing the issues for your conversations with Trustees, colleagues and community partners.

Best wishes for 2009!

January 16, 2009 at 10:44 pm 4 comments

New England Lifelong Access Libraries Institute–Winding Down and Moving Forward

This post discusses the final presentations at the New England Lifelong Access Libraries Institute in Newton, MA, 12/1-2/2008. Speakers included Margie E. Lachman, Michelle Eberle, Carol Greenfield, and Hagar Shirman.

Continue Reading December 23, 2008 at 7:26 pm Leave a comment

Notes from the New England Lifelong Access Libraries Institute, Part 4

This post describes presentations by Stephen Ristau, Nancy Aberman and Robert Tietze.

Continue Reading December 17, 2008 at 8:58 pm Leave a comment

Notes from the New England Lifelong Access Libraries Institute, Part 3

This is the third of a series of posts describing the New England Lifelong Access Libraries Institute which took place in Newton, Massachusetts. Presentations by Sharon Sokoloff, Doug Lord, and Shelley Quezada are discussed.

Continue Reading December 12, 2008 at 9:39 pm Leave a comment

Notes from the New England Lifelong Access Libraries Institute, Part 2

This is the second of several posts about the New England Lifelong Access Libraries Institute, and discusses presentations by Diantha Schull and Susan Irving.

Continue Reading December 9, 2008 at 6:41 pm Leave a comment

Something’s Growing in New England: Notes from the New England Lifelong Access Libraries Institute, Part 1

This post tells of the opening session of the New England Lifelong Access Libraries Institute, Newton, MA, 12/1-2/08. It includes highlights from a presentation on Active Wisdom by Mary Catherine Bateson.

Continue Reading December 7, 2008 at 6:26 am Leave a comment

Lifelong Access Librarians Share Ideas & Enthusiasm

LFF’s Lifelong Access Libraries Program Manager Diantha Schull writes:

I’ve been delighted and amazed by the creativity and energy of the Lifelong Access librarians I’ve had the chance to speak with recently, all of whom are eager to find new approaches to working with 50+ adults. These librarians are clearly ahead of the professional curve with their Advisory Councils, Partnerships, Community Conversations, and a variety of other programs.

Over the past several months I’ve led several programs on 50+ services, including one in Louisville, as part of the joint National Diversity/Kentucky Librarian Association Annual Conference, and another in Massachusetts as part of the Massachusetts Librarians Association Annual Conference. At each of these meetings I’ve had the opportunity to present with Lifelong Access Fellows and other librarians who have received training in the Lifelong Access Framework.   Nancy Aberman of the Reading Public Library and Kate Cosgrove of the New Haven Free Public Library spoke at the Massachusetts event; Susan Irving of the Louisville Free Public Library spoke at the Kentucky event.   All these presenters were great!  And they are doing great things in their libraries—one of my favorite series is the “Live Wires” program developed at the Reading Library in Massachusetts.

The most recent program I led was titled “Library Services for a New Age—Transforming Libraries into Centers for Boomer Learning and Community Participation,” a special program during the New York Library Association’s Annual Conference in Saratoga Springs. The event, on November 7, included my presentation  “50+ Services:  Challenges and Opportunities for Librarians,” followed by presentations from two Lifelong Access Libraries Fellows:  Brigid Cahalan, recently appointed  Older Adult Services Specialist for New York Public Library, and Mark Donnelly, Outreach Librarian, Special Services.

Brigid gave a wonderful presentation that summarized her most important take-aways from the Lifelong Access Libraries Institute in Chapel Hill and the ways in which she has applied these new concepts and practices at NYPL.  (See her “Next Chapter” post on this blog).   Brigid is a born speaker!  No wonder her work is getting so much traction at NYPL—she has spoken to retired librarians in the New York area, to directors and staff of all the branches, and at meetings of various city agencies considering ways to strengthen senior centers and other city services for older adults.   Mark Donnelly also captivated the audience with his descriptions of intergenerational oral history projects he is working on with a variety of schools and agencies in the borough of Queens.

The attendance at this program in Saratoga is an indication of the amount of interest across the library community in work with 50+ adults. We expected an audience of 30 or so, but 175 attended, with some standing and others sitting in the hallway outside the room.  Participants represented libraries all across New York State, from the North Country near the Canadian border to the Chattauqua area in Western New York, to Long Island and Staten Island and the Hudson Valley.   Whatever their size or type of service area, libraries across the Empire state are gearing up for the new generation of active older adults.

The next event will be the New England Lifelong Access Libraries Institute in Newton, Massachusetts, on December 1-2.   I am especially looking forward to the chance to hear three “Stories from the Field” along with brief reports on state-based initiatives to support active older adult services in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Stayed tuned . . .

November 25, 2008 at 5:28 pm 1 comment

Lifelong Fellow promotes “life-long” library

2006 Lifelong Leadership Institute Fellow and new Tualatin Public Library Director, Abigail Elder, has made the news again. Congratulations and continue the great work, Abigail!

October 22, 2008 at 1:54 pm Leave a comment

Transforming Life After 50 in California – Update

Based on the frequency of my blogging, you might think nothing pertinent to the Lifelong Access Leadership Institute that I attended in 2006 had happened in California…but that’s only because I’m not a very active blogger — we’ve actually been making great strides.

As you may know, based on the 2006 LFF institute I had attended, the California State Library, under the leadership of our State Librarian, Susan Hildreth, designed and launched our own statewide Transforming Life After 50: Public Libraries and Baby Boomers initiative in the summer of 2007. The purpose of our LSTA-funded initiative was to transfer much of what we had learned at the LFF institute to public libraries here in California and assist them in redefining, engaging, creating and delivering new and innovative services to our state’s growing population of active, older adults. A population, by the way, that is expected to grow more than twice as fast as California’s total population, increasing 112% from 1990 to 2020 (8.5 million people)! Our California initiative began with a webcast by national marketing expert, Matt Thornhill, and an invitation to libraries throughout the state from Susan Hildreth to apply to attend a intensive 3-day training later that fall.

Forty-four public library jurisdictions were selected and participated in the Transforming Life After 50 training institute in Pasadena, California in November 2007. The institute was made possible through a partnership between the California State Library, Libraries for the Future, and the California Library Association. Presentations were given by leaders from the fields of health, education, social science, spirituality and aging — including folks like Judy Goggin and Paul Nussbaum as well as other experts from California — sharing many of the concepts we had been introduced to at the LFF institute. The California institute also provided training in community assessment and the utilization of customized assessment tools that had been designed specifically for this project and its target population.

Following the training, participating libraries had the opportunity to undertake a community assessment of their own local boomer populations. Libraries were provided with technical assistance and up to $1,000 reimbursement for costs associated with this activity. Forty libraries commenced the local assessments and thirty were able to successfully complete their assessments in the time allotted (a little over 5 months). These thirty libraries were then eligible to submit a targeted grant proposal of up to $20,000 that would address the opportunities and needs thus identified by their local assessment.  Twenty-six libraries submitted proposals and 24 have now been awarded 2008/09 LSTA funding. (For a complete list of grant recipients go here.)

These targeted grants are intended to enable library jurisdictions to implement promising practices as well as test, refine and help disseminate models. An array of approaches will be undertaken by these funded libraries, including creating new physical and/or virtual spaces and outreach approaches; offering new programs that support specific knowledge, skills and interests of boomers; and forming partnerships that expand the library’s capacity to reach this significant population group.  The specific programs to be implemented range from the creation of a Volunteer Toolkit that will pilot new volunteer opportunities that more accurately reflect boomer interests; a Boomer Information Zone that will provide a dedicated space and resources for boomer networking and re-careering; to Taming Technology forums that will allow users to experiment with and evaluate new technologies.

We’ll keep you posted as these projects unfold and let you know what are the lessons learned, promising practices identified and new solutions discovered. We are also currently building a website where all this information and more will be posted.  We’ll be sure to share that URL just as soon as it is available.  Looking forward to hearing from others as we build and grow this community of lifelong access libraries together!

Suzanne Flint
Library Programs Consultant
California State Library
900 N Street, Suite 500
Sacramento, CA 95814

October 17, 2008 at 3:42 pm Leave a comment

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