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

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

What comes to your mind when you think: Retirement?

Well, retirement as we know it is passing away, since many who “retire” nowadays have 20, 30, or more years of active living ahead. How about this: “A new stage of life opening up between the end of midlife and the arrival of true old age.” It has a nice ring to it, no? Stephen Ristau gave us this new definition of work in later life, and used the term encore career to describe it.  Mr. Ristau wears many hats which gives him a multi-faceted perspective–besides  doing consulting work for public and nonprofit organizations  he is a trained marriage and family therapist, a parent educator, and a practicing spiritual director.  He discussed organizations such as Civic Ventures which provide information and support for those seeking a new meaningful opportunity in the latter half of their lives. Ristau also discussed findings of the MetLife/Civic Ventures Encore Career Survey survey.cfm and the Career Transition Service Leadership Feasibility Study

After lunch, the group was treated to another of the “Stories from the Field,” this time from Nancy Aberman from the Reading (MA) Public Library. They started by using grant funds from Libraries for the Future to train librarians to adapt traditional services, while adopting new services for active older adults. Collaboration with the nearby Burbank YMCA resulted in an information fair held at the library, Active Bodies, Active Minds, at which 20 local organizations exhibited. They branded Reading Library’s activities for the 55+ population Live Wires: Boomers and Beyond and adopted a jumper cable logo. Focus groups were formed and asked what they want–they said PROGRAMS. So, the library presents two programs each month: a morning program entitled Coffee and More with a variety of speakers and time for social interaction afterwards (and coffee, of course); and an evening program which could be a film showing followed by a facilitated discussion, or an author presentation or book discussion.  A few of the fascinating topics that have been covered in the morning sessions are: Legal Issues for Boomers and Beyond; The Harmonious Home (reduce clutter without stress); Decorating Tips; Oral History and Genealogy; Elderhostel; and Boston’s Ballparks and Arenas. Ms. Aberman ended with The Top Five Things to Remember about Providing Services to Older Adults: 5. Don’t call people over 50 “seniors”. 4. Do your homework and make no assumptions. 3. If you show them a good time, they’ll be back. 2. Food is good; free stuff is even better. 1. It’s not rocket science. They will be happy and you’ll be fine!

Robert Tietze, Executive Director of Philadelphia Experience Corps  spoke next about Intergenerational Programming: The Next Frontier. Experience Corps is a program, currently in 23 cities, that matches adults over 55 with elementary school students in need of help with reading. Studies and focus groups indicate that this program contributes significantly to students’ accomplishments and enhances quality of life for the volunteers. Tietze spoke about demographics of the older volunteer, and noted that today’s older Americans have better education and more financial resources than previous generations. Older volunteers already contribute more time to their community than other age cohorts, and the volunteer pool increases dramatically when people are directly asked to volunteer–an important lesson for librarians!

Be sure to take a look at the Lifelong Access Libraries Initiative website for all the powerpoints and lots more background and supporting information on the presentations.

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Notes from the New England Lifelong Access Libraries Institute, Part 3 New England Lifelong Access Libraries Institute–Winding Down and Moving Forward

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