Transforming Life After 50 in California – Update

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

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


Entry filed under: Posts by Lifelong Fellows. Tags: , .

Library Services for a New Age: Transforming Libraries into Centers for Boomer Learning and Community Lifelong Fellow promotes “life-long” library

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