Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My new job!

I am happy to announce that I have just started as a full time Librarian in the Pasco County Library System. I graduated last April with an M.S. in Library and Information Studies from Florida State University and had been working as a part-time reference Librarian in Hillsborough County. I will miss my friends in Hillsborough, but I am very excited about my new position. I may be posting to this blog less than usual for a few weeks, as I adapt to my long commute and new job.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Resources for Intergenerational Programs

While looking through the resources in the Creating Aging Friendly Communities conference, I came across a reference to United Generations Ontario. This non-profit organization is "... dedicated to promoting the effectiveness and efficiency of other registered Canadian charities involved in providing benefits to members of different generations - children, youth, their parents and people of their parents' generation, seniors and other older adults." They provide a free pdf called Connecting Generations Toolkit: Best Practices in Intergenerational Programing.

This toolkit lists the benefits of intergenerational programs, such as:

  • emotional support
  • social role development
  • mental stimulation
  • understanding the needs of other generations

This toolkit also provides tips and recommendations about how to successfully create partnerships with other organizations to provide intergenerational programming. There is also a database of resources. However, the links to many of the websites and pdf files are not working through their search page. Here are some useful resources that I did find through the site:

Intergenerational Programs and Aging - with great program examples, resource links, and research about intergenerational programs (from Penn State University College of Agriculture Sciences).

Strengthening Families and Communities by Sharing Life Stories

Bridging the Gap

Tried and True: A Guide to Successful Intergenerational Activities at Shared Site Programs

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Monday, February 18, 2008

"Creating Aging-Friendly Communities" Conference Begins

The Creating Aging-Friendly Communities online conference website has opened up and the live conference events will be starting this week. For more information about this conference, please see a previous post. I have started to explore the site and have found many policy and research papers available, a list of organizations interested in aging-friendly issues, discussion board areas, and a searchable list of participants to encourage networking. There are several librarians already signed in to the conference, including Allan Kleiman of Senior Spaces and Satia Orange, Director of the Office for Literacy & Outreach Services of the American Library Association. I am glad to see librarians participating and networking at this conference. I will probably be only participating asynchronously, due to my schedule, but I hope to blog about some of the presentations.

Unfortunately, this free conference has had so many people interested, that the organizers have had to limit registrations. However, the organizers have promised that all of the content from the conference will be made available to the general public after the conference.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Fighting Stereotypes

In a previous post, I mentioned that we need to consider how we name and market our programs for older adults. Recent articles show that many senior centers are changing their names to avoid using aging labels, in order to be more attractive to older adults. I came across a post about a "senior center" called Vitalize! Wellness Centre. This center describes itself as "... a successful aging center that takes a holistic approach to aging by focusing on the tenets of successful aging: physical, intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and vocational wellness."

This aging center does more than just have a catchy name to attract older adults. It successfully makes its programming intriguing and in doing so, it defies any negative stereotypes about programming for seniors. Their lifelong learning classes are called "hungry mind" classes. Concepts used in their marketing video include empowerment, independence, lifelong learning, community, fun, friends, and purpose.
Here is a Youtube video promoting this wellness center:

"Mather's—More Than a Café" is also "thinking outside the box". These cafes are provided by Mather LifeWays, which is a not-for-profit organization. Here is how they describe the cafés:

“Our Cafés are special places where older adults reenergize, explore, connect, and enjoy.

Reenergize by strength training, practicing tai chi, or taking a yoga class.

Explore the world through lifelong learning adventures and taking line-dancing, piano, pottery, chess, and computer classes. Attend book readings and signings as well as important lectures about identity theft and tax laws. Take a day trip to an exciting area event, like Broadway in Chicago!

Connect with neighbors in your community who sharre mutual interests. Gain free access to area information."

Note that this center provides classes, author signings, a place to socialize, a place to meet people with similar interests, and local information about the area. Libraries are currently providing most or all of these activities and services for older adults. We need to develop successful marketing campaigns - like these created by non-profit organizations - to highlight our services for older adults.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

What is in a name?

When I started this blog, I wanted to come up with a name that would be short and catchy. I realized that the term "older adults" is more widely accepted - for example the American Library Association has a "Services to Older Adults" page. However, I do not feel that there is a negative association to the word "senior" - at least with members of the "Greatest Generation".

Boomers, on the other hand, may not be happy with the term "senior". Recently I have read several articles that state that Boomers are very sensitive about activities and places that are labeled "senior". Allison Rupp wrote an article in the Casper Star Tribune about the trend for senior centers to change their name to better attract Boomers who are in their 50's. In Butler County Ohio, Tiffany Latta (of Hamilton Journal News) wrote that the local "Senior Citizens, Inc." group had changed their name to "Partners in Prime". The idea was to remove the "senior citizen" label, which may have some negative connotations for some older adults.

This idea was discussed by Dave Schleck in a recent Daily Press article. Mr. Schleck quoted author Chuck Underwood, who is the author of "The Generational Imperative: Understanding Generational Differences in the American Workplace, Marketplace, And Living Room."

Here is Chuck Underwood's list of seven words that one should not use in marketing to Boomers:

  • senior
  • retiree
  • aging
  • golden years
  • silver years
  • mature
  • prime time
This is quite a list. We may have to be creative with how we label our programs and how we market them to older adults. I think that "lifelong learning" may be a good term to use to describe library programs for older adults. What do you all think? What terms do you use for older adult programs at your library?

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