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

Library Services for a New Age: Transforming Libraries into Centers for Boomer Learning and Community

Diantha Schull writes:

On October 1, I was delighted to work with Susan Irving, 2006 Lifelong Access Fellow, and Hagar Shirman, LFF’s Massachusetts EqualAccess Program Manager, to offer a preconference on Library Services for a New Age: Transforming Libraries into Centers for Boomer Learning and Community at the National Diversity in Libraries Conference co-sponsored by the Kentucky Library Association, KSMA, SELA, and the Association of Research Libraries.   Held in Louisvile, Kentucky,  the preconference attracted a diverse and motivated group, including adult program specialists, branch managers, library trustees, public reference librarians and academic librarians from such locations as Baton Rouge, Louisville, Atlanta, Lexington and Scott County Library in Georgetown, Kentucky.   Participants contributed throughout the session, discussing the need for new approaches to working with active older adults and exchanging ideas for programs, partnerships and “branding.”

Lifelong Access Fellow Susan Irving gave an exceptional presentation on the work she has lead in Louisville as Manager of the St. Matthews Eline Library.   She described the beginnings of the program, when she attended her first meeting of the Kentucky Elder Readiness Initiative and her participation in the 2006 Lifelong Access Institute.  From there, she worked with leaders of 4 local organizations that were already using the library on a regular basis, to design and experiment with programs that would engage older adults from across the community.    She outlined the programming philosophy—innovate, inform, involve—and showed examples of the program series that have evolved over two years, including “Aging Well” Programs, “Community Conversations,” “Puzzle Play” and “Want to Talk About It?”.   Each program involves a partner organization.  According to Susan, the library now has more partners than it can accommodate, and a waiting list besides.   She believes that programming for boomers has given her library and her community “an anchor” that continues to grow.

We know many other Lifelong Access Fellows are organizing programs to inform colleagues about Lifelong Access.  Please let us know if you are presenting or participating in workshops about 50+ services!

October 7, 2008 at 8:33 pm Leave a comment

Second Annual Positive Aging Conference: 11/12/08

The Second Annual National Positive Aging Conference will be held Nov. 12, 2008, at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and will focus on “Achieving Purpose, Meaning and Vitality in the Second Half of Life.”

The conference, co-sponsored by AARP, will be broadcast online in order to promote community conversations at affiliated sites across the country. Participants will be encouraged to respond to speaker remarks and discuss strategies to promote positive aging in their respective communities. Organizations are welcome to host an online site broadcast to engage their community in this discussion.

The 2nd Annual Positive Aging conference will feature Richard Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute?; Richard Leider, author of Something to Live For and founder of The Purpose Project; Harry R. Moody, Director of Academic Affairs for AARP; and Dan Buettner, explorer, educator, and author of The Blue Zone: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who Live the Longest.

For more information about attending the Positive Aging conference, hosting a site, or sponsorship opportunities, go to this web page or contact Beth Somerville at

October 3, 2008 at 4:54 pm Leave a comment

Lifelong Access Ideas in Action in Fayetteville, AR

2008 Lifelong Access Fellow Michele Raine, Manager of Reference Services at the Fayetteville Public Library, writes:

It’s been two months since we were in Chapel Hill together, and I can say that I’ve thought about something we learned there at least once a week since then.  I’m not much of a blogger, but I wanted to share some of what’s happened at the Fayetteville Public Library based on our experiences at the LFF Lifelong Access Institute.

The first change after the LFF Institute was that the library began partnering with the Arkansas Yoga Center to offer free yoga classes at the library. (If you read Vogue magazine, you might have seen the article about the Arkansas Yoga Center in the September 2008 issue.)  We now offer three classes a month, and they are filled through November!  Dr. Nussbaum’s program on brain health was a call to action for me, not only for physical activity, but mental activity.

The second big change in my department since LFF has been my attitude toward roles for volunteers.  I don’t know if you remember my reaction to Jill Friedman Fixler’s discussion on developing meaningful experiences at the library for our volunteers.  Faced with expanding daily tasks and shrinking staff, I was resistant. I think I said something like, “but who will call the holds?”  However, I met with our volunteer manager and in September we began a program called “Reading Road Show for Adults.”  We already had one for kids that took storytime to Head Start centers, but now the Road Show book club meets at the Senior Center once a month.

The Road Show is completely organized and led by volunteers.  Library staff simply checks out a book club kit to volunteers, and off they go.  I also shopped the idea of a walking club organized and led by volunteers. Our library is across the street from the trailhead to one of the city’s walking trails and two blocks from the historic square, which seem like nice walking destinations. I’ll keep you posted on both initiatives.

Finally, we won a PBS grant for a series of programs on social entrepreneurship that will take place in November.  We’ve invited a former winner of the Purpose Prize, Jose-Pablo Fernandez, to come and be the keynote speaker for that series, and I wouldn’t have heard of the Purpose Prize without LFF!

Hope all are enjoying a healthy and productive fall.

October 3, 2008 at 4:38 pm 2 comments

The Next Chapter: A 50+ Resource Fair in NYC

2007 Lifelong Access Fellow Brigid Cahalan, Older Adult Services Specialist at the New York Public Library, writes:

Since participating as a Fellow in the 2007 Lifelong Access Institute, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the question of how libraries can contribute to enhancing the lives of active older adults in the community. What tools can we provide to promote civic engagement, healthy aging, and creativity and growth throughout the lifespan?

The New York Public Library has been in a process of transformation, and as part of the changes I’ve been appointed to a newly-created position–Older Adults Services Specialist. I was delighted to learn of my new role, and look forward to putting into practice many of the lessons from the Institute, as well as learning from the experiences of other Fellows–past, present, and future.

NYPL’s Mid-Manhattan Library will be hosting a resource fair entitled The Next Chapter: A 50+ Resource Fair on Saturday, September 27, 2008 from 10 A.M.-3 P.M.  (Click here to see the flyer – PDF, 1 pg).  Seventeen organizations that focus on volunteering and education for New York City’s 50+ population will be sending literature and staffing resource tables. In an adjoining room, representatives from each will have 10 minutes each to speak about the opportunities they can provide.

And yes, there will  be Wii! A library page will be present to give attendees an opportunity to try some of the sports-related Nintendo Wii game products such as bowling, golf and tennis.

Take a look at the flyer to see which organizations will be coming and, of course, if you’re in New York City that day, stop by!

September 19, 2008 at 5:16 pm 3 comments

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